The fourth annual Future Fair closed recently. How has the fair grown in your eyes? What stood out to you this year?

Rebeca Laliberte: Every edition is unique in its own way. There was a special groundswell of activity in Chelsea that week, given the proximity of four concurrent fairs. We saw spirited attendance and a real sense of camaraderie among dealers on the show floor all week. 

This year we introduced a number of new initiatives that contributed to the overall feeling of growth for the fair. Working with a curatorial committee positively impacted the diversity of the presentations, highlighting a wider spectrum of artistic mediums than previously. 

We saw spirited attendance and a real sense of camaraderie among dealers on the show floor all week.

We collaborated with Less Than Half on the Matronage Salon, an on-site talks lounge presenting intimate conversations between dealers, collectors, and industry experts on various topics. We also partnered with Virreina’s Loma Serena, an artist residency based in Santander, Colombia, to offer the inaugural Future Fair Artist Prize, juried by Constanza Valenzuela and Jack Radley of ACOMPI. Angela Fang Zirbes, presenting with Hashimoto Contemporary, was awarded the one-month residency taking place in the fall. 

It’s really inspiring for us to witness how the platform can open opportunities, collaborations, and connections far beyond the fair week. This applies to the participating dealers and artists especially, but also to the various curators, advisors, collectors, and other visitors who coalesce throughout the week to participate in the openings, events, tours, and panel discussions.

Future Fair 2024, VIP Preview, conversation of visitors
Future Fair 2024, VIP Preview. Photo by Keenon Perry.
Future Fair 2024, VIP Preview, exhibition view
Future Fair 2024, VIP Preview. Photo by Keenon Perry.
Rachel Mijares Fick and Rebeca Laliberte, Future Fair founders.
Rachel Mijares Fick and Rebeca Laliberte, Future Fair founders. Photo by Keenon Perry.

How did you meet your cofounder Rachel Mijares Fick? What made you decide to put Future Fair together?

Rebeca Laliberte: Rachel and I first met around 12 years ago in New York City when I was an exhibitor at a fair she worked with at the time. Our paths crossed again later in Basel, Switzerland, and we stayed in touch until I moved to New York from London after a short stint in Stockholm in 2016. By then, Rachel had been discussing with dealers and artists in her network the need for more optionality in the fair circuit.

It’s really inspiring for us to witness how the platform can open opportunities, collaborations, and connections far beyond the fair week.

In 2018, we began working on Future Fair, united by a deep respect and appreciation for the work dealers do to platform their artists and a desire to build something of our own after many years in various positions in the industry. Our goal today is exactly what it was then: to create an intimate and approachable fair experience that showcases new voices, offers diverse perspectives, and helps usher in a new generation of dealers and artists.

Future Fair 2024, VIP Preview, community
Future Fair 2024 VIP Preview. Photo by Keenon Perry.
Future Fair 2024, VIP Preview, people viewing
Future Fair 2024, VIP Preview. Photo by Keenon Perry.

Tell us about your unique business model that views galleries as shareholders. Founding galleries are included in a profit-sharing plan with the company for the first four years, splitting 35% of the fair’s profits. How did you come up with the idea, and what has the feedback been from the gallery community over the years?

Rebeca Laliberte: We started the fair with a completely grassroots model; Future Fair does not have any outside investors or backers. The profit-sharing initiative was born out of a desire to reinvest in our founding galleries, acknowledging their trust and early investment in us in 2019.

Over the four-year program, the Pay-It-Forward segment of the model became a crucial facet. This initiative allowed founding galleries to contribute to a fund that provided grants to emerging galleries participating in the fair. In 2020, we expanded this same concept by inviting any exhibiting gallery to apply for or contribute to a community-supported grant fund. 

This year, the Curatorial Committee collaborated with us to nominate galleries and evaluate presentation proposals during the selection process. This broadened our reach, as well as the creative scope and direction of the 2024 edition in a hugely positive way.

This community-funded grant creates a reciprocal loop, enabling more established galleries to uplift younger and new voices. It’s given us the opportunity to work with many dealers early on in their journeys. The fair blends dealers and artists at different stages of their careers, making the overall experience more dynamic and interesting for everyone involved.

Tell us more about your relationship with the exhibiting galleries. This year, the Future Fair featured over sixty galleries from ten countries. Can you share more about the application process? How do you find and select them?

Rebeca Laliberte: We’ve worked with many of the galleries participating in this edition for several years now. Some are returning from last year, while others are new to Future Fair and may even be exhibiting in the US for the first time. We work closely with the galleries during the onboarding process to allocate exhibition spaces that best suit their proposed presentations. If we feel other artists in their roster would fit well within the show’s direction, we’ll suggest modifications.

There are countless institutions, galleries, and independent dealers and curators today advocating for gender equality in the industry. We’ve seen many positive shifts in this aspect in the last few years.

The bulk of our year-round work involves scouting galleries and artists we feel define our current moment. We attend numerous gallery openings and fairs worldwide and meet or connect with dealers in person, at events, through word of mouth, and online, including Instagram. Dealers and colleagues in our network often refer us to new galleries that could be a good fit for the fair. 

This year, the Curatorial Committee collaborated with us to nominate galleries and evaluate presentation proposals during the selection process. This broadened our reach, as well as the creative scope and direction of the 2024 edition in a hugely positive way. 

Future Fair has been instrumental in promoting gender equality in the art industry. This year, 75% of the exhibitors were women-owned galleries, a testament to the platform’s commitment to empowering women in the industry. Could you highlight some of the galleries and artists that stood out this year and share why they are worth learning more about?

There are countless institutions, galleries, and independent dealers and curators today advocating for gender equality in the industry. We’ve seen many positive shifts in this aspect in the last few years.

We’re proud to work with an ever-increasing number of savvy female dealers with discerning curatorial taste. To name a few who presented in this past edition: Elijah Wheat Showroom (New York), presenting artist Beck Lowry; Red Arrow (Nashville) with Karen Seapker; Asya Geisberg Gallery (New York) with Angelina Gualdoni; newcube with a quartet of female Vienna-based artists—Arang Choi, Yuma Radne, Reihaneh Hosseini and Eva Jurková; Massey Klein (New York) with a solo presentation by Martine Johannal and IRL (New York) with Adèle Apron and Eliza Wagener. 

Future Fair 2024, VIP Preview, people waiting outside
Future Fair 2024, VIP Preview. Photo by Keenon Perry.

Featured photo of Rebeca Laliberte by Keenon Perry.