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Insurance at an Exhibition - An update!

On November 21, 2011, I wrote a post on ASK Harriete titled, No Insurance at an Exhibition...What Shall I Do?  It sparked considerable debate...and now an update!

The post concluded that exhibition sponsors should provide insurance covering participating work during an exhibition.  This is simply a minimum professional standard. Yes, there are exceptions, but this conclusion should apply to exhibitions sponsored by larger organizations and exhibitions open to nationwide or international participants.  Such "professional" level exhibitions should adhere to professional standards that are discernibly higher than a local trunk show.


Everready Working Woman by Harriete Estel Berman is a autobiographical appliance.72
Everready Working Woman © 1984
Autobiographical sculpture in the form
of a domestic appliance.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

The post was inspired by a reader and my own personal and professional experience. More than once, I have had to say to a friend or respected colleague, "I will be in your show, but only if there is insurance."



Wishing that an exhibition offered insurance doesn't make it happen.
Wishing that you didn't have to make hard choices doesn't solve the problem.

Perhaps just as importantly, raising a difficult issue for public discussion may not solve all problems, but it certainly raises awareness. Questioning perceived problems early may cause sponsors to take a second look.

The original post revolved around two shows for an upcoming SNAG Conference. 

FIVE WEEKS LATER- good news!

ScottsdaleCultural CouncilSNAG has been in talks with the Scottsdale Cultural Council for many weeks about the insurance issue at the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts.  The Cultural Council just informed SNAG that the exhibitions in the atrium of the SCPA WILL be covered by their insurance. Ultimately SNAG learned that the Risk Manager did not understand what would be produced at the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts site.

SNAG logo 2012 FINAL revised mediumI have also learned that all SNAG-sponsored exhibitions are covered by insurance.

The two exhibitions (under discussion) are not SNAG-sponsored exhibitions; they are independently produced to occur concurrently with the conference to take advantage of the huge audience.

None of this was related to SNAG's budget, it was never a financial issue.

This is all good news but demonstrates how important it is to establish clear expectations about professional standards. This is not about making anyone into a bad guy. No one is a villain. Discussion and advocacy for standards are not about policing enforcement. Each artist and maker has responsibility for advocacy in their community.

Wishes may apply to magic lanterns, blowing out candles, or Santa Claus.
Goals take sweat, tears, working through frustrations, and sometimes hard decisions.



Establish a clear goal that exhibitions in which your artwork will be displayed should have insurance.  Artists/makers should be especially concerned when shipping their work to a remote location where it will be unpacked, installed, displayed, then un-installed, and repacked by someone other than themselves.

In a recent lecture at the San Francisco Metal Arts Guild symposium Forging Communities, Brigitte Martin said, "Setting a goal will lead you and direct you toward the place you want to end up."

Raise your expectations, . . .  and then you will find opportunities that meet your expectations.


This post was updated on February 18, 2022.

Magic lanterns exhibition poster from 1889