Melbourne Art Fair is a seminal fixture on the Australasian cultural calendar, and the headline event of Melbourne Art Week. Stimulating critical and commercial attention for galleries and their artists for over 30 years, the biennial fair supports and promotes Australasian living artists through the staging of a world-class platform for contemporary art, showcasing iconic and new works by artists from the region’s most respected galleries.
Despite engaged to promote the traditional 2020 fair, the impact of COVID-19 on all events in Melbourne quickly meant a shift was required and as such, Melbourne Art Fair: Viewing Rooms was born, in partnership with Ocula.com. Instead of encouraging visitors to gather in a fair environment, we quickly adapted our campaign in the context of online art viewing, sales and engagement within the arts community and beyond.
A major part of the campaign involved an announcement of the free virtual fair and ensuring the correct messaging being sympathetic to the unusual circumstances while also maintaining the prestige of the fair. This was done by an announcement of the virtual fair and the benefits this afforded the art community; keeping them connected in the challenging time, making art accessible, and broadening the reach of the fair. The one week digital fair also involved two days of VIP viewing for those subscribe to the MAF database, and the inclusion of this in our press campaign also increased subscribers.
Our campaign placed the best galleries of the region at the fore and leveraged the digital and free nature of the fair to expand its reach beyond what a physical fair could offer. Communications Collective worked with a variety of media to promote the message of the virtual fair taking place as well as uncovering trends in the online art world, such as the need for prices to feature on digital platforms to help initiate the conversation between buyer and collector. We also promoted and participated in the wider Viewing Rooms program that featured a series of talks and studio visits. Communications Collective held a webinar looking at the intersection of art and design featuring panellists Pascale Gomes-McNabb, Sally Ross, Roger Nelson and Lucy Feagins, moderated by Genevieve Brannigan.
Although COVID-19 swept the news, we secured more than 30 pieces of coverage including multiple stories in The Age as well as arts and lifestyle media including Art Collector, Art Guide, Vogue Living, Time Out, RUSSH, The Design Files and more to encourage a diverse audience to engage with art. The outcome of our strategy saw over 11,000 unique users access the digital fair, a fantastic result for Melbourne Art Foundation. We look forward to working with MAF again for the rescheduled physical fair in 2021.
Webinar development; and
Pictured is Yeah, 2013, by Jon Campbell, image courtesy of Gertrude Contemporary.