Late September saw Amine Kabbaj, executive director of the Marrakech Biennale, announce via Le Monde that the upcoming edition was put on hold following sponsorship withdrawal. With several financial concerns rising to the surface – Le Monde reported that the budget for the 2018 edition had a deficit of €250,000, as compared to the budget of the previous edition at €900,000, while other reports released by key figures in the organisation have indicated they have yet to receive wages – fair organisers admit they were unable to raise enough money to forge ahead.
While plans to resume the fair are in place for 2020, with sustained cultural activity until then, the repercussions of the sudden cancellation have have a wider reaching effect. Touria El Glaoui, founding director of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair – which just held its fifth edition in London – is due to launch the first continental African edition of the fair in February, having scheduled it to coincide with the Marrakech Biennale. Additionally, over the summer, it was announced that the 17th edition of the International Film Festival of Marrakech, due to run in December, had been cancelled.
The Marrakech Biennale was founded in 2004 by Vanessa Branson. While hopes are high, a formal return will remain dependent on sponsorship, indicated Kabbaj.
For more information, visit Marrakechbiennale.org.