ARTRIGHT is a project established to promote professional practice and business acumen in the South African visual arts community.

Legal Matters

ARTRIGHT provides you with basic contracts to help you run your art business. 

These simple contracts have been developed in consultation with industry experts and are reviewed from time to time by Toby Orford Art Law and by Lorna Ferguson Attorneys at Law. Toby Orford, a maritime law specialist, began collecting art on his return to South Africa and has added art and cultural property legal consulting to his forte. Lorna has more than two decades of experience as an art museum director and international contemporary art curator and consultant. Get their contact details in our Useful Contacts section.

Remember that these contracts are generic. They cover the most common contracts and agreements used in the visual arts community but they do not and will not cover all your contractual needs. For more specific contracts or for contracts that are drafted specifically for your needs, you are advised to seek professional advice.

Examples of the contracts and agreements are:

  •      - Sale of a 2D artwork
  •      - Consignment Agreement
  •      - Artist - Gallery Agreement
  •      - Contract to Commission an Artwork

What is a contract?

Contracts are legal agreements between two or more parties that can be upheld in court. A written contract stipulates the terms and conditions of an arrangement. The terms of the agreement are agreed on before the business begins with the contract being signed. This avoids potential conflicts when disagreements do arise. 

Why use a contract when you go into an agreement?

By using contracts you prevent disagreements and possible financial losses during later stages of a business relationship. When disagreements arise the contract is consulted to find the initial agreement. Contracts help guide you through the negotiation processes. If you and your business partners are still in disagreement after you have consulted your contracts, you can decide to go for mediation or arbitration or you can decide to go to small claims court or court. 

Contracts can help prevent disagreements and unnecessary, unwanted and expensive legal proceedings.

If you feel comfortable with a business arrangement, it is best to put it in writing. Contracts become even more important if you do not feel entirely comfortable with the business arrangement. If you do not want to use contracts, you should read though them because their contents will help you understand what you should be discussing when you go into a business relationship.

Consider the case of John Problem's exhibition:
John had an exhibition. Initially John was excited about the exhibition, but by end of the exhibition, the business side of it made him very unhappy: John was under the impression that the gallery would frame his work at their expense, that they would organise a press release and that, at the opening, they would provide the wine and snacks. It turned out that, although the gallery would organise all these things, John would have to pay for them at some point. This meant that a lot of John's profit went straight back to expenses for the exhibition. This disheartened and angered John and his relationship with the gallery owner was damaged. He would never have another exhibition at that gallery. Eventually John realised that a contract would have helped him in two ways: Firstly, he would have been clear about the business relationship and secondly, he would have been able to demand that the agreement be upheld if the gallery owner broke it. Next time, John will use a contract.

Terms & Conditions

Before you use the contracts please read through our Terms & Conditions of use.