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Heather Hubbs on NADA’s Latest Initiative: New York Gallery Open

Photography: Emily Assiran for Observer

NADA has announced a new initiative created to bring visitors, collectors, curators, and critics back into the galleries, non-profits and alternative art spaces of New York City: it’s called the New York Gallery Open.

Through this initiative, NADA aims to cultivate a renewed sense of energy, viewership and patronage within these critical spaces and build stronger relationships with the public, cultivating new audiences both locally and internationally.

As the Official Online Partner, Evrim Oralkan of Collecteurs sat down with NADA’s Director, Heather Hubbs to discuss this exciting new initiative.

Evrim Oralkan: I know that producing alternative models for the public to engage with contemporary art is central to NADA’s mission. Can you talk about the vision behind the New York Gallery Open, which is, in many ways, the natural evolution of NADA’s New York fair.

Heather Hubbs: As a membership organization for galleries, NADA has always provided year-round programming to support its members, so when we knew that NADA New York was not going to happen, we decided to develop an initiative that would bring a condensed version of this type of programming to that same week in March. New York City has always had this great public resource of art galleries that are free and open to the public year-round, and in many ways, we are treating the existing exhibitions at galleries in the city as a type of fair. We are using this opportunity to offer and promote tours of galleries, artist talks, dinners in galleries and other special events, all aimed at increasing the visibility and foot-traffic for participating galleries.

EO: Both NADA and Collecteurs understand how local is challenged by the current landscape and I think we also share a similar vision which is rooted in supporting these local ecosystems and projecting them to global audiences. We find our partnership very exciting for this reason. We not only have an opportunity to create an offline experience to nurture NADA’s members at their New York gallery spaces, but we can also create a unique digital experience to make the local cultural ecosystem relevant to audiences that are not in New York. Can you share your thoughts?

HH: Yes, this idea of making the local arts ecosystem relevant to a global audience is very closely linked to the fair model. Just as it’s always vital to make the fair appealing and relevant to a broad global audience, we are extending that logic to the gallery ecosystem in New York City, and the online partnership with Collecteurs really supports this extended reach. It’s important for the art public to understand that all of these galleries participating in the fairs also have a life in their gallery spaces where they mount phenomenal exhibitions year-round, and that there is a completely unique experience to be had when visiting each gallery and its surrounding neighborhood.

**EO: Galleries also rely on other cultural partners in their neighborhoods to attract audiences collectively. I think it is clear that this ecosystem needs to be nurtured, preserved and promoted. What does NADA’s New York Gallery Open offer for these local ecosystems?
HH: Part of this new initiative, the New York Gallery Open, is to have NADA Member gallery owners take visitors on tours to other galleries nearby to highlight the camaraderie and more overtly open the doors to this tight-knit community. NADA has always had a strong sense of community and this is a moment where galleries are really seeing the value in supporting each other and their neighboring small businesses. Spending the day in a neighborhood like the Lower East Side, visiting galleries and stopping at other small businesses along the way is an experience unrivaled by that of a mega gallery, and preserving these types of experiences is vital to the arts ecosystem more broadly.

EO: This idea of galleries welcoming visitors and collectively exhibiting is exciting, especially given the histories of some of these gallery spaces.  I know NADA’s own building at 47 Canal has an interesting story to tell. Can you tell us a little bit about what was going on there before NADA?

HH: The gallery 47 Canal was in this space before we were. They moved into this space in 2010 and opened with a solo show of Michele Abeles. A couple of years ago, they subletted the space to Mathew Gallery from Berlin. Mathew is now across the street, and 47 Canal moved to Grand Street. Canada was on Chrystie Street, in the same building where our office used to be, then Broome St, and now they are heading over to Lispenard. Fierman gallery is in a space on Henry Street and before he was there, Chapter NY, Bureau, and Dispatch were there, and before that Bozidar Brazda ran a program out of that same space. So, many of these spaces have great history.

For more information on NADA’s New York Gallery Open, please visit:

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