Theatre artists are accustomed to receiving applause from appreciative audiences. However, any theatre insider will tell you that what happens behind the scenes is equally as important as what happens onstage. We take a backstage look at how theatre companies insure aspects of their business to make sure surprises are only left for the audience.
Tenant vs landlord
Whether a theatre company present plays, musicals, ballets or children’s shows, there’s one thing they all have in common…they need venues to present their work. This could be at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Art, Royal Alexandra Theatre, Jubilee Auditorium or at your local community centre. In all of these cases, the organization presenting its work rents or leases a performance venue. The type of rental agreement varies depending on the situation.
For example, a regional theatre company based out of one theatre usually signs a long-term lease to operate out of the same theatre. In contrast, an organization that produces a travelling production will negotiate short-term rentals in venues in the cities it visits. In all of these cases, theatre companies purchase commercial insurance packages that include commercial tenants legal liability.
This type of coverage will protect a theatre company’s property at the performance venue, such as sets, costumes, lighting and sound equipment. Commercial tenants legal liability insurance will also provide coverage for the theatre company if it is found liable for damages to the venue or its property, such as causing a fire backstage. Likewise, the owner of a performance venue is responsible for providing commercial insurance to provide coverage for any damages to tenant property. They are also responsible for the liability coverage for their ushers, bartenders and stage crew.
If a mishap should occur onstage, such as a set piece falling and injuring a performer, either the theatre company, or the venue’s commercial general liability insurance will respond. The insurance package of whoever is deemed liable will be the insurance utilized.
What happens when the show can’t go on?
What if a fire or severe storm prevented a theatre company from performing its shows as scheduled? In these instances, business interruption insurance can reimburse ticket holders and sponsors, and pay employees their scheduled wages. Keep in mind, this type of coverage will only respond if the type of incident is listed on the policy as a clause. For example, if storm or flood coverage is not included in a theatre company’s business interruption policy, the policy will not reimburse any lost earnings.
Many theatre companies rent their sets, props and costumes from specialty businesses located around the world. It is often more affordable to rent these items rather than to create them and have them sit in storage after the production is over. Theatre organizations will purchase all risk coverage (subject to policy conditions) to protect items on the road as they make their way from other locations. This protects the contents from collisions, vandalism, fire and theft.
The next time you find yourself at the theatre, whether you are watching your local Shakespeare thespians in action, or celebrating the holidays at The Nutcracker, remember that your applause expresses your appreciation for the all-around efforts to put on the show, including securing appropriate insurance. For more information on business insurance, contact your local commercial BrokerLink broker.