2.3 Best practice standards for publicly funded exhibitions

The following best practice standards are for non-selling exhibitions in publicly funded galleries where the art work is owned by the practitioner. The principles are relevant to any gallery operating in the public sphere and for a wide range of exhibition types.


Policy statements

  • For the guidance of practitioners, gallery staff, and boards of management, publicly funded galleries should have publicly available documents that provide accurate and transparent information about their policies in relation to exhibition, the payment of fees and any cost sharing arrangements.   


Written contracts or agreements

  • A written exhibition contract or agreement between the organisation and practitioner should be used as per the funding agreement that the organisation has with the funding body. Sample agreements can be found on the Arts Law Centre of Australia website.   
  • The contract should make the expectations of each party clear.
  • The contract should detail fee payments clearly identifying the artists’ fee, production fee and other fees where appropriate.
  • The contract should identify the dates, location and title of the exhibition.
  • The contact should include a full and detailed list of art works loaned including any preferred working for attribution or, if for new commissioned work (non-acquisition) an artist proposal.   
  • The contract should include timeline for the delivery of art work and other supporting material such as images, statements and biography.
  • In the case of a gallery hosting an exhibition organised by a third party, the separate obligations and responsibilities of each of these parties should be identified through a contract between these parties. These separate obligations and responsibilities (publicity, catalogue, invitations, fees, insurance, freight, duty of care, etc.) should also be communicated in writing to the practitioner/s.   
  • Amendments to any contract or agreement should only be made in writing with the agreement of both parties.


Payment of fees to practitioners

  • For existing works practitioners should be paid an artist loan fee for the use of art work in curated, non-selling public exhibitions where the art work is existing and owned by the practitioner.   
  • If a gallery/organisation is commissioning new work by the practitioners, they should be paid an artist fee and a materials fee for the production pf the work. The payment of fees should be standard practice and not dependent on grant funding for a particular practitioner, exhibition or tour.   
  • If an artists’ work from a private collection or as part of an inter-gallery or inter museum loan is being borrowed by a gallery or museum gallery, the exhibiting gallery/museum should notify the artist of this loan and its inclusion in the exhibition program.  
  • If the practitioner retains copyright of the artwork they should also be paid a copyright fee related to the exhibition of the work and inclusion of images of the work in any promotional material. Practitioners are entitled to set the conditions for reproduction of images of their art work, including the payment of licence fees, other than for ‘Fair Dealing’ and other exemptions under the Copyright Act. However, practitioners may wish to grant certain uses of images of their art work without fee to publicise the exhibition.   
  • In addition, the gallery should also pay other fees for associated services such as artist talks, workshops, specific promotional appearances, travel costs, etc. 
  • The contract should specify the date by which payment of the fee/s can be expected.
  • For other types of exhibitions such as awards, prizes and competition finalist exhibitions (where work is not offered for sale), fundraising exhibitions or student work exhibitions practitioners generally are not paid. However, this is something that needs to be addressed by the industry particularly where the exhibition is being toured or the gallery is charging an entry fee. It is recommended that an artist fee is paid for these types of exhibitions.   


Tax status

  • Both the gallery and the practitioner should identify if they are ABN and GST registered. A party which is GST registered must supply a GST compliant tax invoice for goods and services provided. 


Transport and installation

  • The gallery or exhibition organiser should pay for freight and transit insurance of art works both to the gallery and from the gallery back to the practitioner, unless otherwise agreed in writing with the practitioner. 
  • The practitioner should provide detailed packing or repacking instructions where this will assist in the safe handling of their art work.
  • The gallery should meet the costs of installation of the art work in the gallery unless this is particularly difficult or unusual. In that case the costs and requirements should be negotiated and agreed in writing with the practitioner in advance, including any potential damage that might occur to the gallery during installation and exhibition of the art work. A condition report on the gallery before and after installation may be required.   
  • The cost of restitution of the venue after removal of the installation should be borne by the gallery. If there is unanticipated damage, this should be covered by the gallery or through the gallery’s insurance policy. 
  • For audio-visual and performance work, prior agreement should be reached between the gallery and the practitioner on the art work’s duration, frequency, timing and public notification of that timing. 
  • Galleries and/or organisations should insure the work whilst in the gallery space and during installation and de-installation. If the gallery or organisation is also organising the transport of the work then they should also be responsible for insuring the work whilst in transit. 

Exhibition costs

  • The gallery or exhibition organiser should cover all of the exhibition costs for a curated, non-selling exhibition including publicity and marketing activities, catalogue and invitations, freight and transit insurance to the gallery, unpacking and condition reporting, installation, opening event, insurance in the gallery, staffing, repacking, freight and transit insurance to the exhibitor.   
  • Any costs to the practitioner, including income foregone or licence fees waived, should be negotiated without duress and agreed to in writing by the practitioner and the gallery in advance. 
  • Practitioners may reasonably be asked to cover late changes instigated by the practitioner to a publication such as a catalogue. This does not include instances where the gallery/organisation has incorrectly credited an art work or practitioner.   


Sales enquiries

  • Sales enquiries arising from a non-selling exhibition should be referred by the gallery to the practitioner or the practitioner’s representative dealer, agent or gallery. 


  • Public galleries should carry an insurance policy that comprehensively protects works in their care, custody and control both in the gallery and in transit. 
  • The gallery should maintain comprehensive insurance for the full value of the art work as agreed in the schedule.
  • It should be noted that some galleries carry limited insurance due to the high cost of premiums. While undesirable, if this is the case, the gallery should inform the practitioner of any risk. 
  • The gallery should insure the works both in the gallery and in transit. 
  • The gallery should take full responsibility for the health and safety of those who work near or are viewing the work. 
  • The gallery should take full responsibility for public liability and for insuring the practitioner while he/she is creating and installing the work on-site.   


Duty of care

  • The gallery and or exhibition organiser should exercise diligence and care when handling, storing, displaying, packing and transporting the art work, and undertake to supply suitable display mechanisms, security, lighting, fire prevention and environmental controls. 
  • To ensure public access to the art work, the gallery should take responsibility for ensuring that technical equipment, lighting etc. is fully functional during the hours agreed. 
  • For new media/digital works the gallery should deal with technical breakdowns promptly and notify the practitioner of malfunctions if the problem can only be rectified with the practitioner’s assistance.   
  • The gallery exhibiting the art work should assess the art work and document its condition on arrival noting its insured value and any special conservation requirements. 
  • The gallery has the right to question the stated value of an art work and seek independent valuation from at least two qualified valuers if the value attributed appears unrealistically high for insurance purposes. 
  • Should an art work be damaged, the gallery should consult with its insurer and/or the practitioner or art work owner. The decision on how and if to repair a damaged work should be negotiated with the practitioner. The gallery should cover the costs of repair unless the art work, at the practitioner’s request, has been presented in a manner that precludes the gallery from caring for the art work properly. 
  • Should the damage be beyond repair, the practitioner should be paid the full insured price of the art work and, if the insurer agrees, the damaged art work should be returned to the creator. 
  • In a situation where decay or deterioration is an intrinsic and stated characteristic of the art work, any deterioration should not be subject to repair or compensation. Permission from the practitioner should be sought if the gallery or exhibition organiser wants to reframe or remount the art work. The gallery should return the art work to the practitioner in its original frame or mount unless otherwise agreed.

Freedom of expression

  • The gallery should endorse freedom of expression by participating in public discourse and supporting any practitioner whose practice is being impugned through restrictive suppression of expression rhetoric.   
  • The gallery should develop a charter of practice for addressing freedom of expression which would include anticipating or dealing with public outcry. This could take the form of:   
    • endorsing a statement of principles in relation to support for a practitioner’s right to artistic expression
    • putting in place consultation or reference groups to encourage informed public debate
    • developing guidelines and practices which can be called upon, if required, to address anticipated or actual expression of public concern about the content or form of an exhibited work. 
    • being willing to support and foster art/craft/design which may be considered risky. 
  • The gallery should establish a set of guidelines that aim to deal with any controversial issues associated with an exhibition in a way that limits damage to the practitioner’s reputation or exposure of the practitioner to unreasonable pressure or media attention.
  • The gallery should work in partnership with the practitioner to address or deal with the controversy.
  • If the gallery intends to apply any warning or other advice to audience members about art work in an exhibition, the purpose and wording of this should be agreed with the practitioner before such notice is applied. The practitioner should have the right to withdraw from the exhibition if they do not agree with this notice.
  • If an art work is withdrawn from exhibition by the gallery, for any reason, the practitioner should be notified immediately, and reasons provided for the withdrawal. A gallery which withdraws art work from an exhibition may be breaking its contract with the practitioner and therefore withdrawal of art work from an exhibition should only be done where it is absolutely necessary. Galleries should predetermine what these situations might be and develop a risk management strategy which it implements to avoid withdrawal of art work after it has been accepted for exhibition. If the gallery chooses to withdraw the artwork any payments due should be made to the practitioner.
  • Galleries may decide to seek classification from the Classification Board for artworks or catalogues as a clear mechanism for providing choice to audiences.
  • If occasion arises, the gallery should have a list of appropriate art and legal experts who can be called together to advise on appropriate action at short notice.   

Media and promotion

  • Prior to the exhibition, the gallery and the practitioner should agree on the extent and nature of the promotional activity to be undertaken by the gallery and the practitioner’s degree of participation in the promotional activity.   
  • Practitioners should receive a specified number of complimentary copies of an exhibition catalogue or other published materials, for example a percentage (2-5%) of the print run for a monograph, or 1-2 complimentary copies for a large group exhibition.   


Copyright and moral rights

  • The gallery must appropriately attribute the creator of the art work and must not alter or do anything that would compromise the integrity of the art work or permit anyone else to do so while the art work is in the gallery’s care. 
  • The gallery or exhibition organiser should respect the copyright of the practitioner and ensure that these rights are respected by all parties and the general public. 
  • All uses of a practitioner’s copyright by the gallery should be negotiated with the practitioner or their copyright agent and documented in a written licence agreement. 
  • If the practitioner retains copyright of the artwork they should also be paid a copyright fee related to the exhibition of the work and inclusion of images of the work in any promotional material. Practitioners are entitled to set the conditions for reproduction of images of their art work, including the payment of licence fees, other than for ‘Fair Dealing’ and other exemptions under the Copyright Act. However, practitioners may wish to grant certain uses of images of their art work without fee to publicise the exhibition.   
  • All commercial uses of art work by the gallery should be negotiated separately and attract a licence fee – for example, for the production of merchandise such as postcards or t-shirts. 
  • A gallery which reproduces art work on a website should investigate and establish procedures that limit external reproduction and protect the practitioner’s copyright as far as possible. 
  • Except in line with copyright law exemptions, taking photographs of art work should not be allowed without the written permission of the practitioner.   
  • The gallery should refer all external enquiries regarding the reproduction of the practitioner’s images to the practitioner or their copyright agent. 
  • The gallery should not use its documentation for any purpose other than archival and research purposes and should request permission from the practitioner to reproduce work for any other purpose.   



  • Where a sponsor/s is involved in an exhibition, the gallery should inform exhibitors of the sponsor’s involvement and the nature of its business interests prior to seeking confirmation of participation. Equally, practitioners should identify in their initial discussions and contract negotiations any sponsors they would not want to be associated with.    


  • When disputes occur, the practitioner and gallery should agree to follow a process that involves in the first instance, meeting to attempt resolution; then if not resolved, seeking the services of a mediator or mediation service; and only then if not resolved, seeking arbitration or commencing litigation. 

Obligations of the practitioner

  • The practitioner should supply the gallery with a full descriptive list of art works in the exhibition, including a description of their condition. This list should be checked by the gallery against the art works delivered within a specified number of days, signed and a copy returned to the practitioner as a receipt. 
  • The practitioner should ensure that the gallery has sufficient information to correctly install and describe the art work. 
  • The practitioner should supply accurate biographical information to the gallery.
  • If the practitioner has a representing gallery the gallery should be credited. The requirements of the representing gallery should be relayed to the public gallery by the practitioner. If the gallery neglects to do this any costs required to remedy the error should be borne by the gallery.   
  • The practitioner and the gallery should consult regarding any health and safety implications of the art work and the practitioner should respect the gallery’s recommendation for the safe display of the art work. 
  • The practitioner should be responsible for their own documentation of the art work while it is on exhibition. The gallery should provide the practitioner with reasonable access to undertake this documentation. 
  • The gallery may need to know whether the art work has been shown before and how recently, and whether in close proximity to the exhibiting gallery, because the aim of the exhibition may be to break new ground or show new art work. Therefore, the practitioner should inform the gallery of any other exhibitions of his or her art work occurring in the immediate period prior to the exhibition.

Considerations for events and projects in public spaces

  • Practitioners and organisations working in the public space will have additional considerations to negotiate which often means longer lead times necessary for implementing site specific projects and/or activities. 
  • Similarly to working with public institutions, practitioners and organisations should develop contracts which include outlining fees, detailing liabilities and relevant insurances, transport, installation/de-installation, media and promotion, duty of care, copyright and other associated project and exhibition costs, however they will also need to comply with state and local government guidelines and considerations. 
  • Whether practitioners or organisations are looking at developing a project in a public space there are certain permissions or permits they must get from local or state government. These can sometimes have a cost attached so the project should be budgeted accordingly. Projects in public spaces can vary from occupying parks, streets or roads to presenting performances or music. Matters which may have to be considered are things like accessibility, noise, building structures on thoroughfares, traffic controls, health and security. Each Local Government Area (LGA) has different event application forms and guidelines that practitioners will need to complete. Council permissions will need to be applied for prior to the event or project. 
  • Any additional costs that may arise in exhibiting art work in a public space should be covered by the organisation managing the event/project.