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Art commissioning

Preparation - Risk assessments

Art often exists in a public space where, unlike a gallery or museum for example, we have very little control over how people might interact with the work. In certain cases this may present problems in terms of potential for injury or damage if a large piece of sculpture or a glass fronted picture is not properly installed, or child climbs it and falls. As we are spending public money we also need to be aware of the possibility that the project may not be completed or may turn out to be not what we expected. There is concern over increasing risk aversity in the public sector at the moment but we have a responsibility to consider it and good risk management should enable creativity rather than stifle it.

Risk Assessment - avoiding problems

The risk assessment is a way of identifying potential problems in advance and considering how likely it is that any of these problems may happen, what the impact might be and what you can do to reduce the risk. Its actually a very useful way of looking at things objectively and finding out how to make the project happen - and happen safely.

In practical terms the risk assessment will determine what level of insurance will be necessary which needs to be determined before drawing up the contract. The four types of insurance involved are

Each department should have its own risk assessment template. You should be properly trained to carry out a risk assessment. Check who has responsibility for this in your department.

Often artists will not have any insurance, let alone high levels of cover. Always prepare your artist for the request to arrange this cover, even if you are planning to reimburse these costs.

Always come back to the risk assessment and check you are fully covered.

If the outcome of the risk assessment is below the Hampshire County Council standard requirements of £10m Public Liability Insurance, £10m Employers Liability Insurance and £5m Professional Indemnity Insurance, you must send the risk assessment to Legal Practice - Insurance who will advise you.

Again, it would be useful to talk to the artist, colleagues with commissioning experience or other specialists connected with the site for the work.


It is often preferred that where possible, we use our own contractors to install the work. This element helps to reduce the risk. Be clear about this with the artist up front, but do make provision in the budget for using contractors and for having the artist present on the day.


Work by Tina Wallbridge

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