Answers for Artists: A Guide to Basic Legal Issues for Artists


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History of Answers for Artists

Answers for Artists was a resource first created in conjunction with the aim to help artists from non-English speaking backgrounds understand the law.

In February 2006, Arts Law held the inaugural Multicultural Arts Law Week in partnership with Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV), Victorian Multicultural Commission and City of Yarra in Melbourne. Multicultural Arts Law Week involved a week of free seminars, workshops and advice clinics on legal issues relevant to the multicultural communities in Melbourne.

The vibrant sessions covered issues such as copyright, employment, contracts, running an organisation or festival, community cultural issues, legal issues for new and emerging communities, business issues and liability, risk management and insurance. The sessions were held in the Fitzroy Town Hall and the attendees came from a variety of cultural backgrounds and arts sectors.

The attendees ranged from hip hop artists of African heritage, writers involved in the large Melbourne Greek community, young singers, filmmakers, artists running festivals and many others. One participant noted that, ‘The art and law move together as a pair, it is very complex and diverse.’ By the end of the week it was clear that there was a need for arts related legal resources for culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD).

Robyn Ayres, Arts Law’s Executive Director said, ‘The initial impetus to develop a resource for artists from CALD backgrounds came after we provided the multicultural Arts Law workshops in Melbourne in 2006. We then consulted with CALD representatives in Victoria and found there was overwhelming support for the development of an Arts Law resource in a number of languages. The initial proposal was for a series of comics but after further consultations with community representatives in both Sydney and Melbourne we realised that a text-based publication with lots of case studies would be better. We talked to representatives in the African, Islamic and Chinese communities as well as organisations which represent or work with multicultural communities’.

Following this feedback, and with the assistance of the Victorian Law Foundation and MAV, Arts Law released Answers for Artists: a guide to basic legal issues in Chinese, Arabic and English. Arts Law benefited from the assistance of student volunteer Winni Ho who assisted with the Chinese version. Mel Donat, Arts Law Administrative Officer, did an enormous amount of work dealing with the designers, the translators from Global Translations and the printers. As Robyn says, ‘It was Mel who actually pulled the whole thing together.’

The first edition of Answers for Artists was sent to arts organisations, multicultural organisations, community groups and government agencies around Australia. It was extremely well received, and since this initial edition the publication has been regularly updated to reflect the current law and issues of the time. Due to funding constraints the current edition is only available in English, but with hopes that Arts Law will be able to re-release multi-lingual versions in the future.

We hope Answers for Artists does exactly what the title states and provides artists with the answers to their basic questions about copyright, moral rights, contracts, liability and insurance.