CARFAC organizes first Canadian conference for arts lawyers
Arts lawyers from across the country will meet in Ottawa tomorrow for the first conference in Canada dedicated to legal issues affecting artists.
Organized by CARFAC (Canadian Artists Representation/Le Front des Artistes Canadiens), Art + Law will take piggyback on the organization’s annual conference for visual artists, and run June 8 through June 10.
“A lot of the questions that we get in our office are from artists who are asking about business practices that they come across in their career, and quite often the questions they have are about legal issues — anything from contracts to what to do if their copyrighted images are being used against their wishes, or if they’re getting audited by Revenue Canada,” CARFAC executive director April Britsky told the Straight by phone from Ottawa. “Quite often artists don’t make a lot of money, so hiring a lawyer isn’t always in their reach.”
In a news release, CARFAC noted that half of visual artists earn less than $8,000 per year, and that providing legal services to low-income clients is challenging for lawyers working in the highly specialized area.
One session of the conference will bring together arts lawyers who volunteer to run clinics for artists, in cities including Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax. Other sessions will include panels on copyright, labour law, and artist’s resale rights, which CARFAC is currently lobbying for.
“We are hoping, from the legal side, that future events might happen, and that more information will be shared across the legal community, because there is no national association for arts lawyers,” said Britsky. We’re hoping that they can continue to develop contacts and work more closely with artist associations.… And we’re hoping that artists will have a better sense of where they can go when they run into issues.”
Britsky said there were more than 130 delegates registered to attend the event, including two lawyers and two artists from B.C.