Case Studies

Confident contracting: Arts Law provides clear advice on commission contracts

An Indigenous artist was commissioned to paint a large mural. The commission contract set out the terms of the agreement to design, create and install the artwork. As the artist felt he needed some legal advice, he approached Arts Law.

Essentially, the artist wanted assurance that the contract did not include any unusual or unfair terms. In particular, the artist wanted to know whether he would be responsible for damage caused during installation and who was responsible for paying for the materials. The artist had already agreed to pay for paints and other materials, so just wanted to be sure that the contract reflected that.

The artist accessed Arts Law’s document review service. The process of sending through the contract for review was straightforward and quick.

One of Arts Law’s pro bono solicitors, Lucinda Edwards, reviewed the contract and found the contract to be fair and balanced. She thought that the contract made reasonable requests of the artist and had adequate protections for the artist. And even though the artist would supply his own materials to complete the work, the fee provided for in the contract was generous. She suggested that a clause should be included in the agreement which made it clear that the artist would not be responsible for any damage caused during installation.

Having received legal advice, the artist could confidently ask for that clause to be included. The contract now clearly says that the artist is not responsible for damage and allows the artist to supervise the installation of the work.

The artist told us that he was happy with the service that Arts Law provided. Arts Law empowered the artist go ahead with the project, safe in the knowledge that his rights and interests were protected. He knew that his concerns were properly addressed by the terms of the contract.

Lucinda had this to say about the process:

It was my job as a lawyer to assess the contract as a whole and advise the artist on his rights and obligations. Luckily for him, there were no major issues – it was overall a fairly balanced and fair agreement.

In terms of managing the specific risk that concerned the artist, we agreed that the best thing to do was to add a clause into the contract which made it crystal clear that the artist wasn’t responsible for damage to the artwork during installation. That gave the artist peace of mind and it meant that the contract was clear about who had financial responsibility for any damage incurred.

Other useful case studies on protecting your rights when being commissioned to create a public artwork:

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