United Kingdom/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.1 Visual and applied arts

Artists in the UK now receive "Artists' Resale Rights" by which they will benefit from a proportion of the profits made when their works are resold. In 1996 the EU Commission proposed and then adopted (in 2001) a Directive that all Member states introduce this right into their domestic laws by 2006. Though generally opposed by UK based auction houses, the UK Parliament eventually legislated to give living artists this right and, by 2012, the right will be given to the estates of artists who have died within the previous 70 years.

When renting or managing studios where artists are working, there are many other regulations apart from the Health and Safety at Work Act (see chapter 5.2) that need to be observed (such as the Building Regulations Act of 1976 and the Fire Precautions Act of 1971) in addition to insurance, leasing and contracting obligations. Many studio complexes will not insure the personal or creative contents of each individual studio, thus this becomes the responsibility of the renting artist. Public Liability insurance is essential when undertaking any workshops or art activities involving members of the public, be it in a community centre, an outdoor park or school. Without insurance cover, if a person becomes injured or equipment is broken, the artist can be held personally accountable.

The Occupiers Liability Act 1957 specifies that the building or construction where art is displayed has the correct insurance cover against fire, theft and flood; that any artworks are insured against theft, loss or damage and that the safety of audiences or visitors is safeguarded. Artists often find they have to take out their own exhibition insurance where owners or administrators of premises do not.

European Union moves to increase VAT on art sales to 5% from 2.5%, have been resisted for years by dealers and collectors in the UK who fear the dominant position in the UK market will be lost.


Chapter published: 15-04-2011


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