Art Basel reaches outside art trade for new chief officers of growth and digital

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Art Basel has announced the hiring of two new senior officers tasked with expanding business and strengthening the art fair brand’s year-round presence.

For the newly created role of chief growth officer, Art Basel has tapped Hayley Romer, most recently the publisher and chief revenue officer of major US magazine and media platform The Atlantic. Romer, who is based in New York, will “focus on enhancing and innovating Art Basel’s offering at its world-class shows and year-round platforms, creating new opportunities within and beyond the arts ecosystem”, according to a press statement.

Romer has been a regular speaker at international business and cultural conferences over the years, holding forth on topics such as corporate responsibility, climate change and racial equity at Davos, the Aspen Ideas Festival and SXSW, among other events. She starts in the new position this month.

Craig Hepburn will join Art Basel in October as chief digital officer. He will oversee a technology-centric strategy that aims to “complement and amplify Art Basel’s physical shows, creating new formats and experiences that serve galleries, artists, and collectors,” with a mandate to “engage ever broader cultural audiences”, according to a press statement. He will be based in Basel.

Hepburn was most recently the head of digital for the Union of European Football Associations (Uefa), where he led the launch of Uefa’s first online-streaming, direct-to-consumer platform, UEFA.tv. He also has “extensive expertise in Web3 and generative AI”, the press statement notes.

Noah Horowitz, Art Basel’s chief executive, says that Hepburn’s imminent arrival has no connection to rumours that the art fair brand intends to launch an ongoing digital-sales platform. “At present there are no plans” for this, he says.

The hires were announced roughly two months after Art Basel’s primary competitor, Frieze, announced the acquisitions of the Armory Show and Expo Chicago, significantly increasing its US art fair footprint. The rival fair brands will stage back-to-back shows in London and Paris next month (Frieze London and Frieze Masters, 11-15 October, and Paris+ par Art Basel, 18-22 October).

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