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Bringing Together Arts, Culture, and the Law

Posted by Joan Goshgarian
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Bringing Together Arts, Culture, and the Law

“It’s easy for me to be passionate about producing beautiful photography. It’s a lot harder to get excited about the mundane details of running my photography business. This conference was an excellent source of information on legal details that are an important part of any artist’s business. Although it would be impossible to get all the answers in one day, I now have a better idea of the questions to ask. I also made connections with other artists and organizations that can help me strengthen my business.”  ~ Becky Field, Photographer, Concord, NH

 

So begins the feedback from the attendees at the Arts, Culture, and Law Conference that the New Hampshire Business Committee for the Arts (NHBCA) sponsored in June along with the New Hampshire Departments Cultural Resources and Justice, the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits, and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) School of Law. The conference was designed for members of the arts and cultural industry, artists and organizations and board members, as well as legal professionals interested in cultural issues.

 

I was involved with this conference because the NHBCA started the Lawyers for the Arts/New Hampshire program in 1991 with our member law firms to offer arts-related legal assistance on a no-fee basis to artists and organizations.

In 2002, the NHBCA established a relationship with the UNH School of Law (then known as the Franklin Pierce Law Center) in Concord to refer these artists and arts organizations to the on-site clinic at their school.

 

The clinic is student-staffed and faculty-supervised, and in general assists people in civil matters who are unable to pay. In addition, UNH School of Law is a specialist in intellectual property matters and has a history of assisting those with issues in a variety of creative fields. Since the inception of the Lawyers for the Arts hundreds of artists and arts organizations have used this service.

 

In conjunction with the beginnings of the Lawyers for the Arts program, the NHBCA member law firms also created a booklet “Incorporation and Tax Exemption for New Hampshire Arts and Other Nonprofit Organizations: An Introductory Guide.” They responded to our request for this publication because we all have a demonstrated belief in and commitment to the importance of the arts and entire nonprofit community in New Hampshire.

 

The full-day Arts, Culture, and Law Conference featured more than a dozen panels discussing the presentation, “The IP Dialogues: Copyright Done Right and Gone Wrong.” A dozen other 60- and 90-minute panel sessions took place over the course of the conference; included those with representatives from the legal profession as well as from arts, museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions. Panelists gave short introductions to the topics being discussed, with the bulk of each session devoted to answering questions from attendees.

 

Session topics included: “Art and Culture Get Down to Business”; “Artist and Institutional Relationships”;” Content Creation and Distribution in a New Media World”; and “Copyright and the Performing Arts.”

 

In addition, table topic discussions facilitated by leaders from the legal and cultural communities occurred during lunch. Cathy Green, chair of the board of the UNH School of Law welcomed the attendees, and New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney provided closing remarks that highlighted his appearance at the United States Supreme Court with the importance and symbolism of the arts.

 

At the end of the day the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce hosted a reception at the conference site and included its artist networking group which is part of the Creative Concord initiative. Lawyers, artists, conference attendees, and sponsors sipped wine, sampled hors d’oeuvres and shared the day’s insights. The music of the guest harpists and the art exhibits on the walls at UNH added to the energized gathering.

 

McGowan Fine Art Gallery owner Sarah Chaffee wrote, “I can’t say enough about how valuable that Art, Culture & the Law Conference is/was. I used information that I took away from the seminar on copyright the very next day. One of my artists thanked me for being so knowledgeable and standing up for her rights!”

 

With feedback like this, of course we will organize the third annual Arts, Culture, and the Law Conference!

 

*This was originally posted on ARTSblog.

 

*Photo courtesy of Alex E. Proimos

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