Monday, September 29, 2008

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts- MediateArt

I have previously mentioned Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, but here is specific information on a program that deals with work contract and condition disputes.

MediateArt: VLA's alternative dispute resolution, contract negotiation, and negotiation counseling program.

MediateArt, a VLA program since 1998, offers artists and arts organizations three services in an objective, supportive forum at a nominal cost: Mediation (dispute resolution), contract negotiation, and negotiation counseling. Respectively, these services assist artists and arts organizations in resolving arts-related disputes, in forming mutually agreeable arrangements among collaborators, and in preparing for a negotiation.

Artists have used MediateArt's services successfully for many types of matters: For example, resolving disagreements about intellectual property ownership, such as who owns the name of a band or film footage; working out the business terms, including compensation, credit and control, between a lyricist and composer for an opera; and working through differing opinions about the proposed services of a web-design project.

MediateArt's Mediation (Dispute Resolution) service offers a process for artists to resolve their differences with the assistance of neutral mediators. This service, an alternative to engaging legal representation to begin an adversarial process seeking a remedy, can resolve disputes without the significant time, cost, and resources involved in the type of process that may lead to litigation. Mediation is not an adversarial process resulting in winners and losers. Instead, our process empowers artists to resolve their own disagreements by coming to resolutions through win-win and creative solutions to these disputes. Through this effective model, we regularly help artists restore business and creative relationships that once seemed irreparable.

MediateArt's Contract Negotiation service assists artists and arts organizations in working though the terms and conditions of a prospective or existing relationship with the ultimate goal of expressing that relationship in writing. Among other things, this service provides a forum for artists to discuss and work through their mutual expectations, how the project is going to proceed, what will happen if the project does not occur as anticipated, and who is going to own and control the creative output. The two VLA-trained facilitators will assist in moving the discussion forward and focusing the participants on the critical issues. The end goal of the process is to produce a written agreement formalizing the terms and conditions of the working relationship.

MediateArt's Negotiation Counseling service helps artists analyze business opportunities and prospective collaborations in advance of creating a written agreement with another party. Negotiation Counseling may be useful for artists in several different contexts including artists who have negotiations that have stalled because of a lack of business skills, artists who are working with others without a written agreement, artists who would like assistance in analyzing an opportunity that has been presented to them, and artists who are preparing for mediation.

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