In the world of visual arts, it may sometimes be thought that formal agreements are unnecessary because they might restrain the creative processes or indicate a lack of trust.
But conversations in which important things are decided are open to interpretation or misunderstanding unless they are formally recorded. Although in theory a verbal agreement may be legally enforceable, in practice it cannot be relied on because of problems of evidence. The advantages of having a signed written contract will usually easily outweigh the risks of not having one. A contract can be drawn up by either an artist or an exhibition organiser.
The following checklist takes the form of a number of headings that both artist and exhibition organiser need to consider and negotiate around whilst they plan the exhibition. In this way, the checklist can act as a comparison to any document provided by the gallery itself, and to identify the areas where specific negotiation needs to take place.
1. Who are the parties to the exhibition agreement?
2. What is the purpose of this agreement - to hold an exhibition showing of particular works, so list them in an appendix.
3. What is the nature, scope and intention of the exhibition?
4. Where will the exhibition be shown?
5. When will the exhibition be open to the public?
6. When will the preview take place?
7. Will the exhibition tour?
8. Who will deliver the works to the venue and return them afterwards to the artist?
9. Who is installing and de-installing the exhibition?
10. Who is taking care of loss, damage and insurance?
11. How will works for exhibition be selected?
12. Publicity and promotion
13. What fees and expenses are due to be paid?
14. Will work be for sale?
15. Copyright and reproduction rights
16. Moral rights
17. Who owns the work?
18. Who is sponsoring the exhibition?
19. Governing law - what jurisdiction
20. Force Majeure
21. Can you change the agreement?
22. Whole agreement?
23. Appendices - The List of works and Tour schedule form an integral part of the agreement.
24. How can the agreement be terminated?
25. When should it be signed?
The full version of this checklist is at Artists' Newsletter