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.
The arts community has faced unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, not knowing when we may all return to showing our work in public spaces. During this uncertainty, we know most presenters are committed to the principle of fairness in their relationships with freelance artists, designers, curators, and others. Some have developed their own internal practices regarding payment for cancelled or delayed contracts, in light of recent events, but they are not always consistent from one organization to another. We recognize and appreciate that the Media Arts Network of Ontario (MANO) and the Media Arts Alliance (IMAA) have issued a Statement of Solidarity, which fosters a community of mutual support and respect, and we welcome all opportunities to work in partnership with presenting organizations as the situation evolves.
With this in mind, CARFAC, RAAV, and Copyright Visual Arts developed Recommended practices for paying artists during the COVID-19 crisis, which were designed to help the visual and media arts community establish standard procedures for paying artists for cancelled opportunities and new online engagements. We 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. We continue to add to these guidelines, and new recommendations are found below. We cannot cover every possible scenario, so we encourage artists and presenters to contact us with your questions. These guidelines respond to the circumstances of COVID-19, and we remain open to discussion with artists and presenters to further develop these rates.