Stuff You Don’t Think About – Relation Between Insurance And Ability To Hang Art

Lately I have been seeing articles in The Guardian that are calling attention to overlooked aspects of creative practice that have big impacts if conditions start to change. A couple weeks ago it was the impact the dwindling number of piano tuners and technicians can have on the ability to present live performance. More recently, I saw an article about how changes in policies by Australian insurer, QBE, may limit and prohibit visual artists from painting murals and even hanging art in galleries.

This is a subject you don’t normally think about in relation to creative practice, but it seems pretty obvious that artists probably want to be protected from injury when they climb into a scissor lift or scale scaffolding.  I don’t know anything about Australian law so there may be stricter requirements to have the insurance than residents in other countries may imagine.

The article notes that in the last decade that the  National Association for the Visual Arts has been providing the policies through the insurer QBE, there haven’t been any public liability claims related to working at heights.

QBE will no longer cover artists working at heights of more than five metres, and those working at lower heights face extra premiums of up to $600 per annum.

The carve-outs would effectively prevent artists doing public art and mural projects or installing their own work in galleries, according to Penelope Benton from the National Association for the Visual Arts (Nava).


The carve-outs would also affect professional art installers, and emerging artists and curators, who generally install their own work.

I would be interested to know if anyone sees the possibility of a similar situation emerging in their country.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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