A good friend of mine opened a café and I had my paintings/giclees* exhibited there. Last week she had a fire. Most of my work was either destroyed or damaged. My husband also had photography work there and it was smoke damaged. She was under the impression that her business partner had upgraded their insurance to include the art work (mine was not the only one) and other new equipment that they had acquired. Guess he didn’t. Am I without recourse? Thank You.
By the way, I did have one small piece which was a watercolor framed under glass. The glass protected the painting so that was good.
Wow, very sorry to hear about your work and your friend's business setback. This illustrates the importance of a contract. The primary reason for a contract is not enforcement but to give both parties a checklist of things to do and verify. If both you and the cafe owner had taken a few moments initially to look over and discuss the issues typically itemized in a contract (including insurance), perhaps this situation would have a better outcome.
There are two sample contracts in the Professional Guidelines that can be downloaded for free. Either contract can easily be modified to suit both parties and adapted to the circumstances. It shouldn't be an adversarial discussion but contracts do oblige both parties to consider "what if" problems.
The Consignment Contract focuses more on retail sales and representation.
The Exhibition Contract is designed for a situation where retail sales are not the primary focus.
Here is a link to the one page handout in the Professional Guidelines which is useful for preliminary discussions when showing your work at any venue. Print it out and keep this on your desk so that you know which topics are already available for your reference.
One more issue. In any scenario where artwork may be exhibited, (especially in an unsupervised environment such as a restaurant where it may be touched), I would fill out a Condition Report before the work is installed. This way if it is returned damaged in any way, you have documentation of its prior condition.
Despite all this documentation, the primary focus is always to establish a good working relationship. On occasion we all take calculated risks for an exhibition opportunity, so clarifying responsibilities ahead of time tends to be helpful for all parties as events unfold. It is unfortunate that this one turned out so badly.
If anyone has another suggestion, please leave a comment. I'd like to hear what you have to say. Maybe there is another solution that I didn't consider.