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Artists and Insurance

If, like me, you are entering into the Armadale Hills Open Studio Arts Trail this September you might be wondering about the quagmire of legalities around insurance in connection with your art. This year’s entry form now open and online (until 31 May) states “Participating artists will need to ensure their studios are fully covered by appropriate Public Liability Insurance ($10,000,000 limit) and proof of insurance in the form of a Certificate of Currency will be required upon payment of the registration fee, by 5pm AWST on Friday 18 June 2021.” So I made a start on understanding the legal languages and carefully worded policies and discovered that there are many organisations that can help you.

I investigated some local and national Australian organisations. Please keep in mind that information offered here is by no means from a legal perspective and I am not trained in legal speak so I cannot offer you advice on the individual policies, just a listing of what the different organisations offer and how much it costs. Reading through the policies proved difficult and was a bit overwhelming I must admit. Arts Law, a government organisation, offers legal advice and services to artists for free or at low cost. They also have an information page all about the basics of arts and its insurance which proved very helpful in understanding things.

For insurance purposes NAVA (National Association for the Visual Arts) wants you to be a member of the organisation first, which is a yearly fee. The membership comes with invitations to events, exhibitions, art journals and information useful to artists published on their website. Only the ‘premium plus’ membership includes insurance and it costs $298 on application. The application requires a CV and personal work history details as an artist to assess whether you qualify for their insurance. If you get rejected by the assessment you will have to pay them a $20 administration fee which they deduct from your refund of the upfront payment. They do offer 6 types of insurance with this package though: Public Liability, Products Liability, Professional Indemnity Extension, Property in Custody or Control, Tenants liability and Personal Accident.

FORM is an independent, non-profit organisation based in Perth. The organisation designs and delivers programs that build and offer skills in creative thinking, learning and cultural tourism, for the betterment of Western Australia’s cultural, social and economic wellbeing. They offer memberships that include Indemnity, Public and Product Liability insurance. It also gets you invited to events, offers discounts and participation in exclusive events. Their artists/craftsperson subscription costs $220 a year.

Artsource is another WA art membership organisation, one of the longest running in the State. They offer a wide range of services to artists including studio licences, creative experiences, cultural enrichment, professional development, and support for artist-run social enterprises; they also develop strategic partnerships with online arts marketing platforms, live streaming and online services and insurance. Their Max Membership, which you need for their insurance service, varies in price depending on how often you want to pay but the yearly cost is $340 a year.  The insurances they offer as part of this package are Public Liability, Products Liability, Tenants Liability, Property in Physical and Legal Control, Professional Indemnity and Personal Accident.

In the end I settled on Duck For Cover which is a non for profit Australian organisation that offers insurance for performers and artists. This is all that they do and proved to be the least troublesome in cost or effort.  It was started by performers who wanted individual public liability insurance. They have an insurance broker (Steadfast IRS Pty Ltd) and are underwritten by (Allianz) for the purpose of supporting performers and artists.  I selected the visual artist category (note: they don’t cover jewellery, metal work, photography, film making, animation, prop and set making/design, large installations, graphic design, costume/fashion design, floristry or flower arranging and woodwork sadly) and I paid an upfront application fee of $71 which covers me for Public and Products Liability insurance (to the value of up to $30,000,000) until October this year upon approval.

The small amount of research into the insurance for artists has shown me that it is good value being part of an organisation like Artsource, NAVA and Form because it connects you with the local and national art scene. For professional outlook, networking reasons as well as potential art job and exhibition opportunities it is worth considering being members.  It is a good idea to evaluate and define what you are positioning yourself as, the scope of your ambitions as an artist and what you are willing to enrol yourself into before subscribing to anything, insurance wise or other.  Read the fine print on everything, get advice and good luck!


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