Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts Continue to Support Creative Community

This week (the week of April 19) was supposed to be our favorite week of the year here at the Copyright Alliance. We were going to celebrate World IP Week with our wonderful friends at the many Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLAs) groups across the country. For the past two years we have partnered with numerous VLAs to host fun and educational workshops in their cities to help educate the creative community on copyright. Unfortunately, like many other celebrations, we had to cancel these in-person events due to COVID-19. And although the national pandemic might prevent us from hosting these workshops, it can’t stop us from celebrating all the wonderful work these VLAs do on a daily basis and what they are doing to help their creative communities during this difficult time.

The Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts has implemented initiatives to assist local artists, which includes waiving all artist membership and administrative fees, prioritizing the placement of legal cases that need immediate attention, coordinating with other legal services providers locally and across the country to better assist those in need, and transitioning their educational workshops and free legal clinics to online platforms. It has also compiled a regularly updated online compilation of COVID-19 related resources for artists and non-profits here.

The Ella Project based in New Orleans, Louisiana has moved all of its legal clinics to a virtual environment and they are prioritizing applicants who are seeking government/grant relief. It’s also sharing many relief resources vis Facebook and Twitter, including the Jazz Road Quick Assist Fund for jazz artists who have lost work due to COVID-19. If you are a jazz artist and wish to learn more, click here.

Georgia Lawyers for the Arts (GLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance and educational programming to artists and arts organizations. GLA offers access to educational seminars, an in-house resource library, and a network of over 1,000 volunteer and member attorneys to provide legal assistance to artists of all disciplines. On April 21, it will be hosting a virtual seminar for World IP Day titled: 2019 Copyright Year in Review, The Year in Review and What it Means for Artists.

The Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston has a mission to strengthen a vibrant arts community by providing quality direct legal and business services and ongoing educational programs to the artists and cultural organizations within Massachusetts. In addition, it has assembled an emergency response panel of large law firms that are ready and willing to advise artists and arts organizations on contracts, insurance, and labor and employment issues that are particularly relevant and concerning during this unprecedented time. The VLA is also waiving its service fees for artists and organizations suffering financial hardship due to the Coronavirus.

The Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville is a 501(c)(3) organization that leverages and unites the unique resources of the arts and business communities to create a thriving, sustainable creative culture in Nashville. They have put together a thorough emergency response resources page. It has also put together multiple quick guides regarding unemployment assistance and insurance here. In addition, it is diligently recruiting volunteer lawyers and professionals ready to assist clients and provide important resources.

Lawyers for the Creative Arts in Chicago created a Brief Service Response Center to provide general advice by telephone on issues relating to cancelations. The Response Center is open for individual artists and managers of arts organizations affected by the Coronavirus crisis. Its Coronavirus resource list can be found here and includes information on helpful webinars, relief funds, the CARES Act, and more.

Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA) provides legal and accounting services to artists and art nonprofits. Currently, TALA is waiving the membership fee for artists and arts organizations suffering financial hardship due to the Coronavirus. To learn more, or to find out if you qualify, click here. In addition, TALA has a Coronavirus resource list and SBA loans and unemployment information available here.

The Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts in St. Louis, Missouri supports the region’s creative community by providing free legal and accounting assistance, along with a wide variety of affordable educational programs, to creators. Recently, it shifted its spring educational programs to free Zoom webinars. You can check out the resources on Artist Relief Funds, the CARES Act, and more on their website.

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in New York (VLA) is celebrating its 50th year in providing legal assistance and education to New York artists and state arts and cultural organizations. In response to COVID-19, VLA has assembled a robust resources page that includes information on funding, legal resources, and health and mental health resources. It also provides many on-demand educational webinars, including one on the CARES Act. On April 23, it will celebrate World IP Day with a program titled: Lamps, Amps, and Registration Stamps: Intellectual Property Protections for Functional Design.

Springboard for the Arts located in Minnesota is an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists. Springboard also has a Coronavirus resources page, which includes resources for individuals, organizations, as well as basic needs and legal support. It’s also offering a personal emergency relief fund for artists in Minnesota. Learn how to apply or donate to the fund to help individual artists.

California Lawyers for the Arts (CLA) provides education, representation, and dispute resolution to their creative community. CLA is offering more educational programs online on a sliding scale basis ranging from free to “pay what you can.” The Lawyer Referral Services, California Inventors Assistance Program, and Arts Arbitration and Mediation Services will continue to operate via telephone, email and digital communications. Legal clinics are being organized to take place through telephone instead of in-person consultations. You can also refer to CLA’s emergency resources page.

Colorado Business Committee for the Arts has been compiling a resources list, which includes information on relief funds, legal and financial resources, webinars, and more. In addition, it offers a compilation page for visual arts and cultural experiences during the Coronavirus so that the arts can remain a part of our everyday lives.

Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (PVLA) has put together a COVID-19 Information Page on their website, and is continuing to provide pro bono legal referrals and services to members of the Philadelphia arts & cultural community. They have also been working with other arts organizations in the Philadelphia area to put together educational programming for artists and arts organizations impacted by the virus. They’re hopeful that their continued collective efforts can help to support our nation’s struggling creative sector.

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts has a put together a resource guide for creators. The document is useful for creatives who need COVID related information/guidance related to employment/unemployment concerns, healthcare, creditor issues, insurance, taxes, and contracts. This document is meant for all Marylanders, both individual artists/creatives and arts/creative businesses and nonprofits.

Coincidentally, the week of April 19 is also Volunteer Appreciation week. To all the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts groups that are working diligently to support their creative communities during this unprecedented time, I want to say THANK YOU. We truly appreciate your passion and dedication to the arts.

For information on more creator assistance groups, you can visit this directory.

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