Meet the Innovators: Rachel Mijares Fick and Rebeca Laliberte

March 22, 2024

The Future Fair co-founders discuss our new partnership, and more, for the Arcual Blog.

Future Fair was co-founded by Rachel Mijares Fick and Rebeca Laliberte in 2020, with an emphasis on meaningful innovation and collaboration that moves artists and galleries forward. At the launch of Future Fair's Digital Companion, powered by Arcual, we sat down with the pair to learn more.

What was the inspiration behind Future Fair?

RMF: The inspiration for Future Fair came out of countless conversations with art dealer friends who were looking for optionality in the New York art fair landscape, something tailored for them and their needs. Their previous options had been too large – leaving their presentations overlooked; too expensive – creating too much pressure on the galleries; and too exclusive – favoring nepotism over diversifying the fair.

Thankfully, a lot of these issues have changed since those early conversations back in 2018. I do believe that because Future Fair tackled these topics head-on from inception, it was a driving part of the momentum that we’ve seen shift in the industry.

How is Future Fair different to other art fairs?

RCL: Future Fair offers the opportunity to explore exciting galleries and artists from around the world, many of whom are making their debut in New York City or the US. We invest our time in scouting unheard voices that are ripe for opportunity.

We built Future Fair to provide an intimate, curated exhibition platform of the highest quality, from production to the artwork on view. We prioritize transparency, offering exhibitors booths at cost price and providing insight into how their investment is utilized. Additionally, initiatives such as our Pay-It-Forward and Community Supported Grant Funds play a pivotal role in our efforts to introduce new voices every year.

What is most exciting you about this fourth edition of the fair?

RCL: This year marks an exciting milestone for Future Fair with the introduction of our inaugural Curatorial Committee. Comprising three esteemed art professionals — Independent Curator Anne-Laure Lemaitre, Friends of the High Line Curator and co-founder of ACOMPI Constanza Valenzuela, and Art & Culture Writer Osman Can Yerebakan, — each brings diverse perspectives and insights to the table. The process has been tremendously positive, enriching the gallery selection process and broadening the artistic direction of the upcoming edition. By leveraging the expertise of the committee, the upcoming edition seeks to present a lineup that not only resonates with the current market, but also pushes boundaries and anticipates future trends. We’re excited to see how their contributions shape the fair and anticipate that our audiences will gain new insights and perspectives on the direction of contemporary art today.

New York seems to be an integral part of Future Fair's identity. Do you think it’s important that art fairs create positive dialogues with the environments around them?

RCL: Absolutely! The relationship between art fairs and their host environments is crucial. New York has the highest concentration of galleries, institutions and art organizations, artists and collectors in the world. The city’s dynamic atmosphere has always fostered a culture of experimentation and innovation. We’re continuously inspired by the spirit of New York dealers and artists who embody this willingness and desire to push boundaries and explore new models. Over 35% of our exhibitors are New York-based galleries, and at Future Fair, we want to nurture that creativity, and bring that attitude and entrepreneurial ethos of New York’s art community to the forefront.

What are some of the challenges facing emerging artists and galleries today?

RMF: For both artists and galleries, overhead is the largest challenge. Thankfully, for all of time, artists have been creative enough to know how to face these challenges and make their work despite it. For galleries, this means being nimble to the market and needing the awareness as to when to scale up and when to scale back. Fairs remain an integral part of galleries putting their artists in front of large audiences which leads to opportunities. There is a delicate dance for galleries to know when to invest and how much in fairs.

Can technology solve some of these issues?

RCL: Technology offers a powerful solution for galleries and artists grappling with overhead costs such as rent and day-to-day expenses. Digital tools can exponentially broaden their audience, creating more flexibility to operate outside major art hub cities. This expanded reach enables galleries sand artists to cultivate relationships with collectors and collaborators worldwide, transcending the confines of a gallery or an artist studio.

Galleries are increasingly exploring digital tools and platforms to empower artists with greater control and transparency in their careers. This shift facilitates transnational dialogue among artists, galleries, and collectors and enriches the global art community. Technology has already played a vital role in democratizing and diversifying the art world, furthering access and transparency while inviting a more diverse range of participants.

There are over 60 international exhibitors at Future Fair this year. What connects these galleries?

RCL: They share a profound passion and fascination for art, grounded in their belief in its transformative power to provoke thought, inspire and enrich lives. Despite their geographical diversity, they are united by a deep commitment to advancing the careers of the artists they represent and contributing to the cultural landscape.

Can you tease something visitors to the fair should look out for this year?

RMF: I encourage visitors to allow their own internal curatorial eye to lead them toward discovering dialog across borders. We are fortunate to work with artists and dealers from several states, countries, and continents. It is an exciting opportunity to see the discourse that overlaps across cultures. What is relevant and meaningful to artists right now, no matter where they hail from?

Looking to the future, what does the art community need more of?

RMF: While I appreciate my studied background in Western art history, learning to shed its internalized perspective has been one of the most significant shifts in my own approach to art viewing. I hope that we can collectively continue to both lean on and let go of the guidebooks we were originally given.

What's next for the Future Fair team?

RMF: Future Fair is ready to continue trail-blazing our reach both online and in person. We are so thrilled to partner with Arcual, their core values in supporting artists and galleries through new modalities align with our own.

Why is Future Fair's partnership with Arcual on Digital Companion important?

RCL and RMF: In today’s rapidly evolving art market landscape, we recognize the pivotal role that digital tools and technologies can play in shaping the success of small business galleries and their artists. We are thrilled to partner with Arcual’s innovative team to deliver digital solutions that open up new avenues for exploration, sales, and collaboration for dealers, artists, and collectors alike. Our collaboration will introduce a bespoke Digital Companion of the fair in May, allowing a wider audience to discover artists and engage with their work. The initiative will also provide access to a Digital Dossier, offering dealers, artists and collectors a comprehensive record of an artwork’s provenance and authenticity, ensuring its legacy for the future.

As our partnership evolves over the coming years, we are steadfast in our commitment to introduce digital solutions that align with our shared mission of championing small business galleries and their artists.

Photograph by Keenon Perry.

Continue your browsing journey and purchase artworks by visiting Future Fair’s Digital Companion, open April 24 - May 25, 2024.