On 12 December 2017, an official ceremony was held at the Gouvernement building (the Provincial Government building) in Maastricht to sign a new contract that would allow the TEFAF organization to continue to hold its event at the MECC.
A new contract was not strictly necessary, given that the old contract expires in 2020. However, at the request of the Province of Limburg and the Municipality of Maastricht, negotiations were started in the spring of 2017 to re-evaluate the current contract and draft a new one with two important additions: a substantive partnership for the Maastricht region and a ten-year collaboration.
Over the next few years, the Province of Limburg will invest several million euros in TEFAF via the MECC, which hosts the event. In addition, a daily flight to a European hub from Maastricht-Aachen Airport will be established in 2019 to improve Maastricht’s international accessibility. TEFAF will also be given permanent access to the historic building De Hoofdwacht, located on Vrijthof square in the heart of Maastricht. This building can be used to host exhibitions and other activities organized by TEFAF. A special TEFAF Academy will also be established in collaboration with Maastricht University and the cultural programme surrounding the art and antiques fair will be expanded in the years to come.
‘I was pleased that the Maastricht region was open to partnering with us,’ says Nanne Dekking, chair of TEFAF. ‘TEFAF has had a strong pre-sence in Maastricht for years, but this takes things one step further. We now have partners who are willing to invest, to brainstorm, and to shoulder the burden together. It’s a great feeling and extremely important. I truly believe in dynamics like this. A ten-year contract is an impressive feat and entirely new for us. It’s a way to demonstrate our loyalty. Maastricht is now presenting itself as a host. It’s a city with a strong international focus. There are plenty of other European cities that would love to host TEFAF, but Maastricht is perfect for us. It’s an interesting city to visit, but it’s not New York or Paris, which have lots of attractions that could distract visitors and draw them away from the fair. We need a compact environment that encourages people to come back to TEFAF. In other words: a high-quality city without too many distractions. Maastricht fits the bill perfectly.’The Province of Limburg took charge of the negotiations, at the initiative of Twan Beurskens, member of the Provincial Executive of Limburg, responsible for Economic Affairs. ‘This partnership aligns perfectly with our current policy. We act as a co-investor when interesting companies or international events come to our region.’
According to John Aarts, one of Maastricht’s municipal executive committee chairs, the extra efforts undertaken by the province and the municipality align with previous investments in the continued modernization and expansion of the MECC building. ‘TEFAF is an important client for the MECC and we certainly took their wishes into consideration in our plans for the building. All construction work must be completed before TEFAF 2021.’ Both the Province of Limburg and the Municipality of Maastricht make extensive use of TEFAF to invite business and administrative partners. ‘Very few people decline an invitation to TEFAF,’ says Twan Beurskens. ‘The same is true of André Rieu’s summer concerts on Vrijthof square. These are our top two internatio-nal events that draw visitors from around the world.’
General Manager Guido Derks of the Province of Limburg chaired the TEFAF discussions together with MECC director Rob van de Wiele, represented by CEO Patrick van Maris. ‘Both parties were extremely satisfied with the discussions. It was agreed that I would attend board meetings twice a year to represent the region as a discussion partner and to help create an even stronger international event in the future.’