"We'd always wanted to have an online platform, but Covid-19 fast-tracked our plans," says Roberta Coci, one part of the all-woman Latitudes team. It includes Lucy MacGarry, who runs the online platform with Coci. Co-founders Makgati Molebatsi and Nokwazi Zimu are involved in the physical fair.
Coci says going digital has changed the art landscape. "Now that there are no barriers like heavy travel costs for exhibitors to come to a physical fair, we have access to many more galleries, artists and sellers on the continent and globally. At a physical fair you have spatial restrictions, which limit the number of exhibitors you can host.
"To put it in perspective, on Nelson Mandela Square we had space for 24 sellers, whereas we already have 140 sellers on our online platform, with more being added on a weekly basis. When it comes to audience, we also have a much broader reach and can target buyers across the globe. What's more, we are gaining so much rich data on who our buyers are and what art they're interested in, which is allowing us to fine-tune our strategy and ensure value for our sellers."
Latitudes represents more than 400 artists on the site. "We're proud that emerging artist Cinthia Binene Sifa sold out her first body of work on the site within three weeks of the launch. There's only one piece remaining of her second body of work. This proves to us that the landscape is shifting and that our aim to create a platform that gives equal agency to independent artists, galleries, curators, not-for-profit organisations and studios was well-timed," says Coci.