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Pro Bono Update


"Dancing is like water, it floats away" -Merce Cunningham

EASL's Pro Bono Steering Committee Members Elissa Hecker and Carol Steinberg collaborated with the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) to present a day long Saturday program on Legal Issues for Dance Companies in February, which generated unprecedented excitement and appreciation among the attendees and the panelists. The beauty of this program was that high level attorneys and innovators in the dance world donated their precious time to speak to the attendees about pressing legal issues that confront the dance community (see the program below for a list of speakers). Many of the attendees had been learning to enhance their professional development through NYFA's BUILD program, and were ready and eager for the legal advice that was given so creatively and generously. The attendance was terrific, and the feedback showed that the dance companies and choreographers who attended were grateful for the rich program (and want more).

Judith Prowda, joined by the Martha Graham Center's Artistic Director, Janet Eilber, gave the keynote address about the Martha Graham litigation and its lessons for dance companies today. The discussion highlighted the importance of determining ownership of the dance, having appropriate contracts to reflect this key decision, and protecting the legacy of the choreographer. The panels that followed on licensing and trusts and estates issues covered these key issues. The licensing panel, consisting of attorneys and an innovator in digital distribution of dance, provided essential legal information to the attendees in practical language. The next panel focused on protecting the legacy of the choreographer in a casual, yet extremely informative manner. Subsequent panels covered basics of setting up and running a business, with an exciting discussion of the pros and cons of using not-for-profit companies and, in the alternative, for-profit models for dance companies. The day concluded with a panel focused on using social media to maximize fan bases and audience attendance. Each panel found its unique and fascinating way to reach the attendees.

Feedback from those who attended showed that they greatly appreciated the advice they were given, and they want more. Their reaction highlights the need for more pro bono work to continue this wonderful process. For example, one attendee said that she needs pro bono counsel to work with her company on an ongoing basis. Another said that she learned so much and now has more questions (a good sign). More than one panelist said that this was the most enjoyable program they had been on or attended. Lane Harwell, Executive Director of Dance NYC (the service organization for the dance community) said, "It was a pleasure to be a part of this extraordinary event - so valuable to the dance community as it navigates legal hurdles and opportunities. Thank goodness there are lawyers out there who want to help! "

Kathy Kim, another Member of the Pro Bono Steering Committee and Stephanie Spangler, an EASL member, also worked behind the scenes with Caroline Camp of NYFA to make this event a success. NYFA's Peter Cobb, attorney, saxophone player, and Program Officer, provided magnanimous and invaluable support.
The attendees want more. Working with the dance community is an exciting and satisfying way to do pro bono work. Please be on the lookout for opportunities to participate through your email, the EASL Listserv, and/or the EASL Blog.

You will find this work as satisfying and enjoyable as we do.

*Introductory Remarks*
Michael Royce, Executive Director, NYFA
Peter Cobb, Program Officer, NYFA Learning/NYFA Consults, BUILD
Carol J. Steinberg, Esq., Co-Chair, EASL Pro Bono Committee; School of Visual Arts

* The Martha Graham Case: Determining Who Owns a Dance*
Judith B. Prowda, Chair, EASL Section, Senior Lecturer, Sotheby's Institute of Art, Law Office of Judith B. Prowda
Janet Eilber, Artistic Director, Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance

* Licensing: Contracting with Collaborators and Other Artists*
Cory Greenberg, Esq., Director of Operations & Special Projects, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Marc Kirschner, Founder and General Manager, TenduTV
Christine A. Pepe, Esq., American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP), Director of Legal Affairs

* Trusts and Estates: Protecting Your Legacy*
Timothy J. DeBaets, Esq., Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams and Sheppard
Jean Davidson, Executive Director, New York Live Arts, (Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co. and Dance Theater Workshop Re-imagined.)
Terence Dougherty, Board Director and Corporate Secretary of New York Live Arts (Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company Re-imagined); General Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union; Commissioner of the Women's Refugee Commission
Daniel Scott, Esq., Chadbourne & Parke LLP

* Business Entities and Accounting: Innovative Solutions*
Innes Smolansky, Esq., Law Office of Innes Smolansky
Lesley F. Rosenthal, Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Lane Harwell, Director, Dance/NYC
Brian S. Perkis, CPA

* How You Can Use Social Media to Build Your Brand and Avoid Some Legal Problems Along the Way*
Elissa D. Hecker, Esq., Co-Chair, EASL Pro Bono Committee; Law Office of Elissa D. Hecker
Erik Gensler, President, Capacity Interactive Inc.
Andrew Berger, Counsel: Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse & Hirschtritt LLP

The Pro Bono Committee's Speakers Bureau also co-sponsored an event with Local 802, a member of the American Federation of Musicians, for a seminar on Legal Issues for Musicians. Christine Pepe, Director of Legal Affairs of the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) and EASL's Music Committee Co-Chair, provided the attendees with a helpful overview of copyright law and the components involved when musicians are taking steps to protect their own work or properly use the other artists' works. Harvey Mars, in-house counsel from Local 802, complemented this seminar by discussing legal issues commonly encountered by musicians in the union, such as the topic of practicing music in one's residence with unwelcoming neighbors.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 18, 2011 10:32 AM.

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