Being an artist or arts organization in today’s day and age is hard. It just is.
The money is gone and the industry is constantly shifting in a way that makes the already insanely difficult and vulnerable process of creating, even more stressful and uncertain.
BAC Grants is dedicated to providing as much support as we can to artists and organizations in our community. Often this support takes the shape of a grant awarded through one of our programs (linked here for more information.)
When we have a minute or two, however, we like to put artists in contact with resources that might make the harrowing journey just a little bit easier.
One such resource is legal counsel.
Whether you’re an individual artist who has questions about copyright law or drafting a contract, or an organization with questions about obtaining or maintaining not-for-profit status, legal counsel is a supremely important tool to have in your proverbial belt. Depending on your financial status, however, legal counsel might seem like it’s outside of your economic reach.
In cases like those, there are options.
First, one can investigate Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. According to their website, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts “is the pioneer in arts-related legal aid and educational programs about the legal and business issues that affect artist and arts organizations.” VLA is a great organization to have on your side as you traverse the murky and tempestuous waters of New York arts and culture. Information about their many programs and who to contact is available on their website (linked above.)
If you’re looking for a more “do it yourself/hands on” approach, there are a bunch of arts organizations who have collated informational resources for your convenience. The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (from whom BAC receives the funding for our Brooklyn Arts Fund grant) and New York Foundation for the Arts are just a couple of examples of such organizations. Their resource pages are linked here, and are open for your perusal at any time.
In the end, the saying “law is too important to leave it to the lawyers” is inescapably true. It’s important to be as educated as you can about your rights as an individual artist or arts organization, in order to best advocate for yourself in this tough industry.
We at BAC Grants hope that you find these resources to be helpful, and as always, we are at your disposal, should you have any questions.
Sophie Kurtze is new to the role of Grants Assistant with Brooklyn Arts Council, after completing a year-long Arts Administration internship with The Juilliard School Drama Division. A jack of all theatre trades, Sophie is a Technical Collaborator with the New York Neo-Futurists, as well as a freelance producer and sound designer. If she has a minute to spare, you can probably find her watching a BBC documentary on YouTube. Sophie holds a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, where she primarily studied Theatre Production and Human Rights.