by Adrian Flores
Under the Personal Property Securities Act, which came into effect on January 30, 2012, and is administered under the Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia, art works consigned to a gallery are considered an asset of the gallery unless they are registered with the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR).
The Arts Law Centre and The National Association of Visual Arts (NAVA), both in Sydney, are worried many artists aren’t aware they need to register their artwork to retain ownership.
“It’s not necessarily hot on an artist’s agenda,” says Tamara Winikoff, Executive Director of NAVA.
Previously, artists retained ownership of their work on consignment to a gallery.
The cost of registration is $7.50 with the gallery to which the artist has consigned work. Registration needs to be renewed every seven years.
Ms Winikoff has mixed feelings about the PPSR.
“It does have a possible benefit, in that we are constantly trying to improve the business practices in our industry,” she says.
But the process may be difficult for some artists. Every cost to artists on a small income has an impact.
“It’s not only the cost; they also have to remember that after seven years they’ve got to renew their registration,” Ms Winikoff says.
Ms Winikoff is planning an information forum, in consultation with the Arts Law Centre, on how to better spread the word on the PPSR and she is encouraging artists to register.
“Personal property laws before the register were convoluted and needed clarification,” says Evan Hughes, Director of the Ray Hughes Art Gallery in Paddington. “The register is fantastic in clearing some grey areas of property law.”
But Mr Hughes says that the PPSR had not been advertised well and needed wider exposure.
“There should be more communication between government, artists and dealers,” he says.
Robert Enemark, an artist based in Stanmore, was unaware that he would have lost all his artwork consigned to a gallery in Crows Nest that went broke in December last year, if the gallery had gone under after the PPSR came into effect.
“I’m going to be a lot more aware of the situation now because I wasn’t before,” he says. “It just hasn’t been publicised. Galleries would like it to be publicised because it makes them accountable.”