26 June

Arts Law inspires the formation of French organisation le Barreau des Arts

My time at Arts Law inspired me to create le Barreau des Arts, a Paris-based not-for-profit aimed at providing specialised legal advice to French artists.

In a time when the closing of borders seems to be an overused tool to curb the spread of the epidemic, our commitment to the arts community must remain consistent and persistent. The arts community has been particularly affected by the pandemic, we therefore must reaffirm that when it comes to strengthening value and respect for arts and culture, national borders become irrelevant, as the arts community spans the entire globe.

This year marks two years after completing my internship at Arts Law’s office in Woolloomooloo. In these two years, the inspiration I received through Arts Law has been channelled into the successful fruition of its French counterpart, le Barreau des Arts. I am pleased to announce that French artists now have a blossoming, and trusted, source of advice dedicated to them, as Australian artists do with Arts Law.

Working outside my normal work hours, and with the help of my co-founder and friends, we met with countless lawyers, artists and government officials. We were also honoured to receive the Louvre’s Lens’ grant and to enter into a partnership with the Paris Bar.  With the growing support we received, we decided it was time for French artists to become awakened to their rights, that it was time to embolden and empower the arts community. We then began our search to find lawyers who were trained and specialised (and mostly who were willing) to provide artists with quality pro bono legal advice.

I admit, at times the process has been met with several challenges and with the reluctance of some institutions which saw this project as too disruptive or too idealistic. We were met with scepticism from some law firms and authorities who cautiously viewed our proposal, even more so when conducted by unknown, young and overly enthusiastic graduate lawyers…

However, with the strong support of legal professionals including the Paris Bar, the winds of change that have begun to blow and convert the law industry’s view regarding pro bono work, and the general enthusiasm for the project, le Barreau des Arts was born. Throughout this process, and still to this day, I was consistently reminded of the reality that Arts Law created for Australian artists, providing empowerment to artists and creative communities. This was the reality we were building. This is the reality we will continue to create for French artists.  

Although there have been struggles along the way, our journey has been full of excitement and is among one of the most enjoyable endeavours of my life. We have a highly competent team, we have increasing demand from artists, a growing interest from lawyers to offer their time pro bono and we are working closely with volunteer IP Masters students to help with the project. While we still have a long way to go, such as raising funds, implementing a stronger IT system, developing collaborations and reaching a broader audience, le Barreau des Arts, following its Australian counterpart Arts Law, is on a clear path towards providing further value, respect and empowerment to the arts community.

Lucie Tréguier, Presidente, Barreau des Arts

Le Barreau des Arts team in Paris, France.

While international borders are closed and we are physically distant, the global arts community is as connected as ever. Arts Law is thrilled to have been the inspiration behind le Barreau des Arts but this is far from the first time our work has crossed international boundaries.

Since 2007 Indigenous representatives for Arts Law together with Robyn Ayres the CEO, have travelled to Geneva, Switzerland to participate at the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee meeting on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. The aim of this work is to protect Indigenous and First Nations peoples’ cultural and intellectual property.

Late last year Arts Law hosted a representative from the Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC), a not-for-profit organisation that acts as a voice for Canada’s professional visual artists. This was an invaluable opportunity to exchange experiences and models for engagement.

In 2019 we also hosted several Maori colleagues seeking to establish a legal service similar to Artists in the Black in New Zealand.

Arts Law is also in the process of hosting an intern from Papua New Guinea as part of the Australia Council’s International Arts Leaders program.  Scheduled to start earlier this year, the placement has been postponed until the borders re-open.

The driving force behind this work with our international partners and friends is our overarching purpose: strengthening value and respect for arts and culture to make a better world.  We believe le Barreau des Arts will make the world better for French artists and wish them bonne chance for their future.

IMAGE: Photo by slon_dot_pics from Pexels