February 2010: Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts

by THE ARTISTS FORUM

Artist of the Month     >    2010 Artists


ARTIST PROFILE

NAME: Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
LOCATION: 1 East 53rd Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10022
ORIGIN: New York, NY
ART: Law
MAIN GENRE: Legals Services for Artists and Arts Organizations
ARTS AFFILIATIONS: New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and many others.


INTERVIEW

Please describe your organization’s artistic themes
Established in 1969, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) is the foremost resource for members of the arts community seeking information and representation on legal and business matters. VLA offers educational programs; access to pro bono legal representation and counseling, and alternative dispute resolution services, VLA is an advocate for the arts community.

Please describe your organization’s creative process
VLA believes that individual artists and arts organizations deserve access to dedicated legal representation and ongoing advocacy to ensure that their voices are heard and their interests are protected. VLA also believes that members of the arts community should understand certain legal and business matters to protect themselves and their work. To achieve these goals, VLA provides pro bono legal representation and educational programming to low-income individual artists and nonprofit organizations. Additionally, VLA offers a range of other services such as legal counseling, advocacy, and alternative dispute resolution services to the entire arts community, and it assists in the training of lawyers in arts and entertainment law.

What are your organization’s artistic goals?
VLA serves artists and arts organizations in every discipline, including: acting, animation, architecture, bookmaking, choreography, composition, costume design, craft and folk arts, dance, directing, fashion, film, graphic design, installation art, literary arts, modeling, multi-media, music, photography, playwriting, poetry, printmaking, screenwriting, sculpture, songwriting, theater, three-dimensional design, video arts, video game design, visual arts, and web design.

Tell us about your organization’s programming
VLA’s programming is three-fold:

I. Legal Services VLA’s Department of Legal Services provides access to different services:
1. The Art Law Line, a free legal hotline;
2. The VLA Legal Clinic;
3. In-House Legal Services;
4. Pro bono placements for low-income artists and nonprofit arts organizations with one of more than 1,350 volunteer attorneys; and
5. Co-Representation where the attorneys on VLA’s staff work alongside volunteer attorneys in firms on projects and cases.

Additionally, MediateArt offers three services in an objective, supportive forum at a nominal cost: mediation (dispute resolution), contract negotiation, and negotiation counseling. Respectively, these services assist artists and arts organizations in resolving arts-related disputes, in forming mutually agreeable arrangements among collaborators, and in preparing for a negotiation.


II. Education
VLA plays an important role in educating individual artists, arts professionals within arts and cultural institutions, attorneys, students, and the general public about legal and business issues that affect artists and their creative endeavors. Our classes are often an artist’s first exposure to VLA. This programming plays a fundamental role in helping artists and arts organizations identify the important legal and business issues they face, and teaching them how to protect themselves and their artistic endeavors. Our Department of Education offers a wide variety of discipline-specific and general educational programs at its office and on location for law firms and art, cultural, and service organizations. VLA is also certified by the New York State Bar Continuing Legal Education Board as an accredited provider of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses and programs. Accordingly, VLA provides CLE classes at its office, and privately for law firms at their offices. VLA also custom designs courses, including CLE classes, upon request. http://www.vlany.org/education/workshops.php


III. Advocacy
From its inception, VLA has played an important role as an advocate on behalf of the arts community in different ways. VLA’s involvement includes participating in litigation, making public statements about matters of interest to the arts community, and making recommendations on pending legislation.

What advice could you give to emerging artists?
VLA provides pro bono legal representation and educational programming to low-income individual artists and nonprofit organizations. Additionally, VLA offers well as a range of other services such as legal counseling, advocacy, and alternative dispute resolution services to the entire arts community, and it assists in the training of lawyers in arts and entertainment law.

How can one get involved with or join your organization?
VLA provides not only an invaluable resource for artists and arts organizations in the New York City area but also an exciting opportunity for attorneys to interact with artists in the community and contribute meaningfully to their work. There are many ways in which attorneys can get involved with VLA.

VLA also offers year long memberships to Law Firms and Corporations as well as Organizations and individuals. Everyone who is a VLA Member is entitled to enjoy:

• Discounts on VLA seminars, workshops, publications, and MediateArt services
• Reduced consultation and case list referral fees for eligible matters
• Access to VLA clinic appointments for appropriate matters
• Invitations to all Member Events

WEBSITE: vlany.org
                  

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