The world has changed more in the last 6 months than arguably any other time in recent memory, thanks to the ramifications of the devastating coronavirus.

Of all the sectors hit, the arts have been hit hardest. Even after the opening up of hospitality in the summer, live performances have been still very much seen as a risky endeavour.

As a result, thousands of venues across the country have been forced to shut their doors; some temporarily, others indefinitely.

In an attempt to salvage something from this most unfortunate of situations the industry at large has pivoted to an online streaming and broadcast model.

At first, this was seen as a way of the sector helping people through lockdown and very little money was changing hands but now that we’ve moved through lockdown 2.0 and are looking to the world beyond the time for freebies needs to end if the sector has any hope.

Everyone from rock stars to orchestras and choirs has started to adapt to the idea of performing remotely, but what kind of implications does this have on insurance?

Orchestras and choirs

With online orchestral performance, many of the same risks apply during closed-door performances as with audiences present, which can lead to orchestral insurance claims: instruments might be damaged in transit to a venue or stolen, a performer might have been running late due to a travel delay. But there are several additional covers that will need to be considered.

Cyber insurance, for example, will cover the orchestra in case of a systems outage that prevents live streaming, a data privacy breach which could affect reputation and prevent subscribers, or a hack that will render them unable to deliver content an audience has already paid for.

Media liability provides financial protection around media content and advertising, including websites, blogs, and social media, an important channel for promoting performances.

You need to ensure you are fully protected against claims of copyright, libel or slander, defamation, or professional negligence.

Finally, there’s also the videographer to consider in this situation, as if they don’t have the right professional indemnity insurance it can lead to serious problems.

Virtual Performance Package Policy

We work with an insurer who has created a new product specifically for performing arts groups who are now producing live performances who need cover for cancellation cover, e.g. for non-appearance of a key performer.

The product also provides the opportunity to include cyber cover for outages or technical failure as mentioned above, for clients without an existing cyber policy.

There is unfortunately no cover for cancellation due to coronavirus, but the premium is returnable in certain circumstances – a benefit not normally available on cancellation policies.

Outreach and education work

Alongside performances, many orchestras are working hard to maintain outreach programmes, often working with children and vulnerable people.

More insurance considerations will need to be made for orchestras and choirs doing community outreach work online, as any time they are working with the public they are putting themselves at risk of a claim.

Where there are socially-distanced live events, no matter how small, it’s important to ensure the right liability insurance is in place, with risk assessments and a health & safety policy demonstrating awareness of and compliance with COVID-19 safety precautions.

For more specific information, be sure to check out our guide on “Working With Young People in the Arts.”

It’s worth noting that specialist insurance brokers exist to make lives easier for those in the performing arts.

Whereas a conventional insurance broker will offer you a generic package of cover, these firms know their given sectors inside-out and know exactly what cover is needed.

For example, most performers will require some form of media liability cover as mentioned above, to cover themselves in cases of slander, libel or defamation and because they might be playing music written by other parties. Specialist brokers provide advice focussed to your needs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

It’s a bold new world and we’re all still adapting to it, but as long as you are willing to roll with the punches and turn to more specialist insurance brokers to help you with your queries, you should be able to step into the new, new normal with confidence.

Image: Volha Werasen /