Arts Law’s new free sample Indigenous Artist and Art Centre Agreement is a great resource for Indigenous artists creating artworks at Indigenous art centres. In this article, Serena Armstrong looks at who might use the agreement and how to use it.
Who can use the Indigenous Artist and Art Centre Agreement?
The agreement has been drafted to help Indigenous artists and art centres understand what they have to do when they are dealing with each other. If the agreement is completed and signed then it creates a legally binding agreement setting out what the artist and art centre have to do. It is most suitable where an Indigenous artist is providing artwork, such as paintings, carvings and weavings, to an Indigenous art centre on a commission basis. The commission is the percentage of the sale price that the art centre keeps when the work is sold.
Often it will be the art centre that prepares the agreement and fills in the details and then sits down with the artist to discuss the agreement. The artist should get legal advice before signing the agreement to be sure that it means what the artist understands it to mean.
Why do I need a written agreement?
Arts Law encourages artists and art centres to use written agreements as they can help avoid disputes by clearly setting what the artists and the art centre staff are expected to do. For example, the agreement will state when the artist gets paid, how much they get paid and what they need to do if they want to look at the art centre’s accounts for sale of that artist’s work. This can help avoid arguments about money business.
The agreement sets out what the art centre has to do, such as providing somewhere for the artist to work, storing the artworks in a safe place and creating detailed catalogue entries and authentication forms about the finished artworks. The agreement also sets out what the artist must do, including letting the art centre know if the artist is moving to another community. If the agreement is an exclusive agreement then the artist must tell the art centre if anyone is trying to buy the artist’s work and must not sell the work directly to the buyer.
Where do I get it and how do I use it?
The agreement is in word format. It can be purchased from our website and saved to your computer. You can then type in the details, such as the name of the art centre and the artist, and how much commission the art centre can take. If you prefer, you can have a copy faxed to you and can handwrite the details. If you are having trouble purchasing the agreement, call Arts Law on 02 9356 2566 (within Sydney) or 1800 221 457 (tollfree outside Sydney).
What do I need to think about before I fill in the agreement?
The two biggest things to work out before filling in the agreement are:
- is the art centre the exclusive or non-exclusive dealer for sales of the work directly from the artist to the buyer? If the agreement is exclusive then the artist can only sell the works through the art centre and cannot sell the works directly to other buyers or galleries;
- does the art centre buy the artist’s works outright at a fixed price or does the art centre give the artist a commission when the work is sold. The agreement has been developed only for use in the commission arrangement, although if you call Arts Law it can be modified so that an upfront advance on the commission is paid by the art centre to the artist.
How do I know it has been filled in correctly?
Once you have completed all the details for the agreement but before anyone signs the agreement, get in touch with Arts Law and we can arrange for a lawyer to check the agreement is correct before it is signed. Once it has been signed it is legally binding and if you want to change it you should ask Arts Law about how to do this.
Serena Armstrong was a solicitor at Arts Law.