Apr
24

A Mega Twist to the Summer Art Festival: SeaFair

It’s almost summer- and you know what that means?  Summer art fair season is almost here!  I have spent the last few hours on this rainy Saturday morning wading through 8 pages of possible art festivals PR Chicago helped us identify as shows The IAE might consider attending. From high end to the smallest ones,  I am an active attendee of summer art festivals but work them? Now, that is a whole other matter. That is going to take another cup of coffee to decide how much of my summer fun will include working” the booth”. The joys of launching a business!

Anyway, as I flipped through yesterdays email I had yet to read, coincidentally I discovered an innovative twist to the summer festival waiting for me- SeaFair.  Seems like the universe is telling me this is the subject matter I am going to be forced to ponder today.

So what is SeaFair you ask?  It’s a specially built $30 million art exhibition- a floating “megayacht” art fair. Like the gambling boats in the river, SeaFair stays tied to the dock and serves food and drinks while patrons shop for art.  Each deck is loaded with art exhibition booths- but before you get too excited. Take a seat. SeaFair is probably not for the start up art business. $10K will just barely get you through the door with a 200 square foot booth.  Of course if you book it 180 days in advance you can get a 25% discount- which certainly helps.

SeaFair’s packaging is brilliant. It’s the paradigm shift here, really, that is sparkling bright in the water.  But don’t be too bedazzled by their $30 million “megayacht”.  Their business idea is transformed THROUGH the glitter of the word “megayacht”. Octopus, a megayacht owned by Paul Allen, the co-Founder of Microsoft, cost $200 million.  What $30 million for a yacht buys them is just enough of the glitter they need  to execute the idea. It always comes down to how to cost effectively execute the idea. Always.

Their idea hinges on the fact that if your wealthy (or wish you were) and want to spend a day going to an art fair, wouldn’t it be a better experience to be on a yacht?  And the art community, of course, wants to hang with the rich and famous too- or at least be in the same room with their credit cards. SeaFair offers artists a sophisticated atmosphere to meet potential clients. Although they claim that artists will meet “thousands of pre-qualified attendees and potential collectors each week” seems a bit of a stretch for a boat this size, for a few days of exhibition. Of course their docking locations are good to draw the audience they seek. SeaFair will dock in Newport RI from Sept 2-5 and then in Miami Beach from Dec 9-12.

SeaFair has been developed by well known art festival creators International Fine Art Expositions (IFAE).  In 2001 IFAE owners David and Lee Ann Lester sold IFAE for 18 million to dmg world media. dmg produces 260 public shows and trade exhibitions worldwide and a diverse mix of conferences, publications, and online services. dmg has shows and publications in North American, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East, operating out of 33 offices in nine different countries. A major newspaper publisher, dmg owns the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, and numerous newspapers throughout the United Kingdom. Significant holdings in the art and antiques sector include Antique Trade Gazette (UK), Antique Week (US), the Original Miami Beach Antiques Show (US), and more than 100 regional art and antiques fairs and events in the United States, United Kingdom, and France.

Despite dmg’s mega star studded influence as stake holders, IFAE founders David and Lee Ann Lester continue to be the face of IFAE. Their charge is to help dmg begin to launch international exhibitions.   “It is an important step in our long-term strategy to add international events of such outstanding caliber to the growing dmg world media art and antiques portfolio,” said Mark Carr, executive vice president of the art and antiques division. “We are especially pleased that David and Lee Ann Lester have chosen us as their business partners and that they have agreed to head our new group specializing in prestigious international fairs in future years.”

“Clearly, there is an ongoing consolidation and realignment at every level within the international art and antiques markets,” said David Lester. He further noted, “It is increasingly difficult for smaller independent firms such as IFAE to have the necessary resources to make a significant impact in today’s increasingly competitive international markets. Through this partnership with dmg world media, our fairs will now have substantial new resources available to create even more global marketing power for our clients.”

“Our art and antiques sector will continue to aggressively seek new opportunities and venues throughout the world,” noted Mark Carr. “We believe the demand for first quality art and antiques fairs exist elsewhere, and we will encourage and enable this new group to launch new shows to serve international art and antiques dealers in the coming years.”

This, of course, makes the portability of SeaFair even that much more brilliant. Clearly the real hope behind SeaFair is to help reinvigorate a number of different markets and potentially art markets all around the world. SeaFair can serve as both a portable marketing and sales vehicle, attracting new artists who will pay for the boat through exhibition fees and large scale collectors around the planet with whom they can forge new relationships for international level exhibitions. Simply brilliant.

SeaFair and IFAE founders, David and Lee Ann Lester,  had this to say about their new floating project.  “The Show provides an interactive experience for artists and artisans with current and prospective clients,” said David Lester. “Collectors can directly view contemporary art, glass and jewelry in a luxurious shipboard environment. This innovative program offers artists and artisans an upscale platform and direct channel to sell their works and meet new collectors.”

Regional gallery owners are invited aboard to meet with participating artists and view their work, making possible future gallery representation. A series of onboard lectures and seminars are included in the SeaFair experience. They also boast a sophisticated marketing and promotional strategy that they will help coordinate with key local press, museums, collectors and designers to enhance sales for each participating artist. Advertising is conducted through local and regional publications and broadcast outlets, as well as direct mail to demographically pre-qualified attendees. Commercials will air on such outlets as CNN, CNBC and FOX Business News, and color advertising inserts would be placed in Manhattan and regional editions of the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

So, if your art career is in the perfect spot to leverage this opportunity and you can afford to, contact: Heidi Marie Grassley at hgrassley@ifae.com or call 239-949-5411 ext.103. You can also download the application here.

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