SINGAPORE ASIAN ART CENTRE Fortune Cookie Projects, a curatorial and art consulting service set up in 2006 by Mary Dinaburg and her partner Howard Rutkowski, has recently established their headquarters in Singapore.
The decision to open an office in Asia is a reflection of the rise of Asian art and the importance of Asian collectors in the world market, they said.
“All the international art world knows that Asia is beginning to be a major player and will be even more so,” Dinaburg said. “Galleries, artists, museums want to be in this part of the world, but they don’t know it, so for us it’s a perfect opportunity to work with them, to be their outpost.”
Singapore’s advantages: financial hub, English language, free port facility, space
While the partners considered several locations, including Shanghai and Hong Kong, they say they finally decided on Singapore because of its central geographical position in the region and its wide use of English. But most importantly, it is a financial hub for private wealth, and the city is setting up a free port with what Rutkowski called a “Fort Knox-like,” state-of-the-art facility to house works from all over the world.
Right now, the only other free ports for art are in Zurich and Geneva, he said. With a gross floor area of approximately 22,500 square meters, or more than 242,000 square feet, for Phase 1 (and an additional 24,000 square meters for Phase 2, to be completed in 2011), the Singapore FreePort will include showrooms, workshops, photo studios and private offices. Due to be completed toward the end of next year, it will be directly accessible to Changi Airport.
“The FreePort is a huge asset to the development of the art market here,” Rutkowski said. “There will be huge, secure warehouses, with no duty or taxes paid; a place for people to park their art safely for as long as they want and in total confidentiality.
“We also felt Singapore was a better place to set up shop than Hong Kong, because it has a much better infrastructure in terms of museums and exhibition spaces. Hong Kong doesn’t have space. When we did the Julian Schnabel show we had to transform office space, because major contemporary artworks, such as his, require proper presentation.”
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