Art Basel is calling off a new initiative for which it planned to invite hundreds of arts professionals, scholars, and thought leaders in the fields of science, technology, and finance, among other industries, to Abu Dhabi for a three-day event that would have addressed global issues such as sustainability and artificial intelligence. The art fair cited the short timeline to organize the think tank as the reason for its cancelation—Art Basel only announced the program—which was slated to take place in February 2020—in September.
Dubbed Art Basel Inside, the program was being organized by Art Basel’s department of business initiatives and partnerships and hosted by its parent company the MCH Group in partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism. Curator and art historian Marc-Olivier Wahler was tapped to lead the summit, which revealed that it planned to charge $15,000 per participant. According to Art Basel, the admission would have gone toward meals and accommodations.
In a statement provided to Artforum, Art Basel said the decision to nix the event was made jointly by the parties involved. “The concept of Art Basel Inside and the building of communities in the art world is something we strongly continue to believe in and that we have been developing over the years,” the statement read. “Art Basel Inside in Abu Dhabi in February 2020 was always an ambitious project on quite a short timeline. Despite a lot of excitement for the project, support from our partners, and incredibly hard work by the team, we were not able to move forward with Art Basel Inside.”