The biennial Melbourne Art Fair has been cancelled six months ahead of its August opening at the Royal Exhibition Building after several major galleries withdrew their applications to participate.

The announcement came yesterday from Anna Pappas, gallerist and Chairperson of the not-for-profit Melbourne Art Foundation, following a decision from the Melbourne Art Foundation Board.

In a statement yesterday, Pappas said, “This week, a number of high profile galleries no longer felt able to make the required commitment to the 2016 Fair and withdrew their applications for exhibition spaces.”

The Foundation expressed plans for “a new and expanded vision” for this year’s fair, for which it required “the full support of our constituents in order to generate national interest, support satellite events and attract international collectors.”

In an interview with Sydney Morning Herald, gallerist Di Tanzer explains while she was part of the art fair since its inception, she is now focussing on interstate and international fairs.

“It costs a lot, it’s almost the same cost to go down the end of the road to go overseas,” Tanzer says.

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Gallerist Beverley Knight, and former chairwoman of Australian Commercial Galleries Association from which the art fair was founded in 1988, told The Australian it was too expensive to be involved this year.

“If you were accepted to be in the fair on Wednesday you had to pay 30 per cent,” she says. “It would have cost us $45,000. It’s a lot of money, and you want to see a good fair with marketing, professional staff and it just wasn’t happening.”