The Red Dot Art Fair, which was set to run May 3-6 at the 82 Mercer event space in Soho, has been cancelled. Harvey Fung, one of 82 Mercer’s partners, told The Observer that the fair’s director, George Billis, had failed to reach an agreement with the unions whose workers help build walls and provide various other services that were being done at the space. Having proof of such agreements prior to events is standard procedure at the venue. And so 82 Mercer, with no evidence of an agreement and fearing protests outside its doors, pulled the plug.
When we spoke with Mr. Billis this morning, though he said no agreement had been reached with the carpenter’s union and the Teamsters, he was hopeful that the fair would be relocated, but when reached this afternoon he confirmed that it the event was off. “I’m done with this,” he said, and offered no further comment.
This morning, the doors of the venue 82 Mercer were closed shut and had two signs out front that read, “ATTENTION: The Red Dot Art Fair (May 3-6, 2012) has been CANCELLED.” There were neither artworks nor union workers in sight.
There were never any union workers physically at the venue, according to Mr. Fung, who said the show was officially canceled last night.
“Vincent [Fung] and our other partner John have been letting George [Billis] know that he has to somehow show proof that a deal has been made,” said Mr. Fung. “We pushed and pushed.”
“He did mention that he was going to try and get away with it,” said Mr. Fung, of Mr. Billis’s alleged plan to operate without union services. Red Dot has previously held fairs in Miami. A New York edition in 2009, during Armory week in March, was cancelled less than a month before it opened.
Earlier today, Mr. Billis had said about using union workers at the fair, “It’s too expensive…. Ask the unions why they’re trying to push the art fairs out of New York.”
We reached out to the carpenter’s union for a response but our calls have not been returned.