Legal protection for the work of artists, writers and others with creative outputs is sometimes overlooked, especially in small communities. Springboard for the Arts has teamed up with legal personnel out of the Twin Cities to help bridge the gap, offering free clinics in which members of the artistic community can chat with attorneys to get some of their most pressing legal questions answered. Common questions are often related to copyright and trademark law.

Andy Sturdevant, Artist Resources Director Coordinator for Springboard for the Arts’ Minnesota Lawyers for the Arts, is based out of St. Paul, and is integral in organizing clinics, free of charge, to artists in Minnesota. The Daily Journal spoke with Sturdevant regarding the next Virtual Legal Clinic, which is being conducted via Zoom or phone call on Jan. 11.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to host this event virtually?

A: The legal clinics predate my time at Springboard. When I came on staff about 10 years ago, we'd been offering them in-person for a few years, and in that time, we've probably done one or two a year. The pandemic and the shift from in-person events to virtual events almost overnight forced us to reconsider how we're offering these services. And in fact, the move to virtual clinics vastly expanded the pool of artists. Artists who might not be able to travel to the Twin Cities in person can attend without leaving home. And there are always questions about the business and legal side of people's art practice, especially when you find yourself in a situation where your work is being used without your permission or you are confused about a contract you've been presented with.

Q: What is the benefit of hosting the clinics?

A: People can be very intimidated by attorneys! Especially when they're discussing something that's as personal to them as their artwork. The clinics create an opportunity for artists to discuss things like copyright and contracts and business formation with an attorney who spends a lot of their time working with artists, and knows what it means to be a working artist and a small business.

Q: What enables the clinic to be available free of charge?

A: We have a roster of 40 attorneys that volunteer their time to assist Minnesota artists, so the four attorneys are from that pool of attorneys. All of them are small firms and they work with artist clients regularly. We sometimes partner with bar associations or other nonprofits, but this clinic is being presented by Minnesota Lawyers for the Arts, which is a program of Springboard for the Arts.

Q: What can be expected during the clinic?

A: Artists working in any field can register with a question they have about the business side of their artistic practice. The half-hour gives artists a chance to bring particularly vexing questions they've had difficulty with and work through with someone experienced in addressing them.

The problem may not be resolved in that time, but it gives artists a sense for what concrete steps they need to take next.

Q: How many people can register for this clinic?

A: We have 12 slotsopen, with four attorneys.

Q: Will this be a recurring event?

A: Yes! This is the second virtual clinic we've done, and we're planning on many more in coming months.

Q: If an artist is unable to attend, where can they find assistance?

A: Even if you can't attend, Minnesota Lawyers for the Arts has an attorney phone consultation referral service, where you can get on the phone with an attorney to discuss a legal issue related to art. You can learn more at https://springboardforthearts.org/resources-access/legal-assistance/.

To register for the Jan. 11 free virtual legal clinic for creatives, visit Springboard for the Arts’ website and register under the events section athttps://springboardforthearts.org/events/virtual-legal-clinic-2021/.

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