Tuesday. 4/5/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Fair dues

We’ve waited, delayed and rescheduled – but now it’s time. Frieze New York will be the first big-name art fair to go ahead in a physical format this week. Yes, it won’t be as big as it could have been, fewer galleries are taking part (64 against the usual 200) and fewer international visitors will be able to attend. But the signals are clear: VIP slots and general attendance tickets are sold out, collectors are flying in from across the US and people are raring to go.

Yet the biggest question surrounding art fairs predates the pandemic. I remember interviewing fair directors in Miami Beach and Los Angeles, and always sneaking in the question at the very end: is there a future for large, global events? At the time, the consensus was mixed. Yes, people felt overwhelmed and calendars were too full but the big global events were the big global events. A year later, the enthusiasm over Frieze’s return speaks volumes. Other small fairs have managed physical editions in the past few months; none carried as much symbolism as this.

All of which is not to say that things will remain unchanged. The environmental challenge is unavoidable now and Frieze board director Victoria Siddall has been instrumental in the creation of the Gallery Climate Coalition, a group of institutions committed to cutting their emissions. And the downsizing of Frieze New York into a new location, The Shed (pictured), not only pleased those who hated the perennial taxi-jams heading into the notoriously hard-to-reach Randall Island; it has also been a chance to show that putting established galleries closer to up-and-comers in a more compact venue can be refreshing and stimulating for collectors. Expect more such hybrid models and evolving concepts for these events going forward. But for now, art fairs are like parties – sometimes, you just have to have a massive one.

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / Northern Ireland

Long divisions

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Northern Ireland Assembly are seeking new leadership after Arlene Foster (pictured) resigned, following a revolt from within her own ranks. Her ousting came over the introduction of a post-Brexit customs border in the Irish Sea, which sparked some of the worst street violence in Northern Ireland since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. And though Foster opposed the border, she was more progressive in accepting reality than most. “The DUP had a dream that Brexit would deliver a border on the island of Ireland rather than one in the sea,” Denis Murray, the BBC’s Ireland correspondent between 1988 and 2008, tells The Monocle Minute. “The current situation has caused a huge amount of anger among hardline unionists. The DUP now runs the risk of embracing its militant Christian roots.” Ironically, Murray says that this could have the opposite effect by turning away centrist voters, which “makes the prospect of a united Ireland more likely”.

Image: Getty Images

Tourism / G20

Direction of travel

Tourism ministers from the G20 nations will today attend a digital summit hosted by Rome. Top of the agenda is likely to be the issue of harmonising vaccine certificates in order to kick-start global travel. The topic was also discussed last week at the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit, which brought together leading industry figures and ministers in Cancun under the theme “Uniting the World for Recovery”.

An estimated 62 million travel and tourism jobs were lost globally in 2020, so business leaders used the summit to pressure governments to unite and help the industry recover. Yet it’s not only governments that are under scrutiny. Hilton CEO, Christopher Nassetta, a speaker at the conference, has come under fire for doubling his pay to $56m (€46m) in 2020, while nearly a quarter of the hotel chain’s workforce were made redundant. Unity of purpose – from governments and the private sector alike – will be essential in getting the tourism industry back on its feet this year.

Image: Shutterstock

Business / USA

In good company

“Purpose” and “impact” are talked about in equal measure as profit in boardrooms these days, often guided by something called ESG: environmental, social and (corporate) governance. For many these days the E and G are clear but it’s in decoding the S that things get messy, according to Frank Cooper III (pictured), global chief marketing officer for Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager. Brands can feel pulled in all directions, as though they must take a position on every issue in society. “From wealth inequality to labour rights and racial equity, it’s just a long list,” says Cooper. “And underlying every item on that list is a moral question. So most business leaders don’t want to tread on that terrain.” Cooper’s advice? Identify social issues that relate to the business in which you operate. For Blackrock, it’s financial literacy and inclusion. “The obvious thing for us is to deal with things around wealth inequality.” Finding your own cause is half the battle.

You can hear the full interview with Blackrock’s Frank Cooper III on Monocle 24’s ‘The Entrepreneurs’, premiering tomorrow.

Image: Alamy

Fashion / UK

Lab of luxury

The University of Cambridge is joining forces with French fashion house Chanel for a new partnership that includes training for Chanel employees and scholarships to support underprivileged students to study for a masters in “sustainability leadership”. The initiative will also attempt to answer key societal problems with three 18-month long “innovation sprints” for a group of experts to explore how the fashion industry and other businesses can reduce carbon emissions and address biodiversity loss. “Many of the solutions required for truly sustainable economies and societies do not yet exist, are not commercially viable or are not yet fully scalable,” says Clare Shine, director and CEO of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. “We believe this initiative will help Chanel in its ongoing efforts to shape the future of luxury and inspire responsible businesses around the world.” And aside from addressing sustainability, it’s good to see major companies putting their money behind actual research and education.

Image: M+ Museum

M24 / The Urbanist

Tall Stories 255: M+ Museum, Hong Kong

Monocle’s Nina Milhaud visits a newly constructed museum space in Hong Kong that aspires to express Asia’s rich visual culture.

Film / London

Entrepreneurs: The Nunhead Gardener

Monocle Films heads to the leafy suburbs of southeast London, where entrepreneurs Peter Milne and Alex Beltran have given up their corporate jobs to set up a charming garden centre.

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