Recommended Practices for Paying Artists

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Recommended Practices for Paying Artists

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Force Majeure—it’s a standard clause we often see in contracts, which aims to provide clarity for anticipating the unforeseen. Fortunately, we rarely need to give this much thought. But what happens when a pandemic or natural disaster forces institutions to close on a national or even global scale, as is the case with the COVID-19 crisis?

Many artists are at different stages of negotiation in their agreements with presenters. Some have signed contracts while others have verbal or more informal agreements in place. In either circumstance, presenters should honour their agreements with artists. We encourage presenters to support artists to the best of their abilities and to consider the financial pressures many self-employed artists are currently facing as much as possible during this time. We urge presenters to consider compensating artists for additional labour that may be involved if they are asked to change the format of their exhibition, screening, presentation, etc. We also recommend that presenters keep their websites and social media channels up-to-date with information about their programming, as circumstances change and evolve.

We are living in extraordinarily challenging times, and we are all in this together. Museums, galleries, artist-run centres, and festivals are also facing unprecedented challenges, not knowing when they may reopen their doors. We know most presenters are committed to the principle of fairness in their relationships with freelance artists, designers, curators, and others. Some of them have developed their own internal practices regarding payment for cancelled or delayed contracts, in light of recent events, but they are not always consistent with other institutions.

With this in mind, the following guidelines are designed to help the visual and media arts community establish procedures for paying artists when exhibitions, screenings, and other opportunities are disrupted due to cancellations or postponements.

CARFAC, RAAV, and Copyright Visual Arts are available to answer questions to the best of our abilities from artists and presenters, as we all contend with unexpected situations related to COVID-19. Please stay connected for updates, as these guidelines continue to evolve.

For more information, visit

For more information about the representative association of visual artists in Quebec, visit

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