Dear Editors

I must apologise for not having produced my regular column this month – the first time in three years. The fact is that we’ve been under so much pressure at Artlaw that there’s been no time to sit down and write.

I was wondering whether you would publish this letter in place of my column to tell readers what we’ve been doing and why we need their support?

Artlaw Services has been fully operational for nearly two years, working from our offices at 358 Strand with a full-time staff of four, plus a newly recruited office junior through Manpower Services Commission. The office is now receiving an average of 100 cases and requests for assistance per month, and so far this year 750 clients received advice and help through the office or through our panel of volunteer lawyers.

Artlaw Services has received funding from a number of bodies including the Gulbenkian Foundation, Arts Council of Great Britain, Welsh Arts Council, and the Crafts Council, but it has always been our intention that the organisation should become self-supporting. At this time of the year all funded arts organisations have to spend a lot of time working on fund-raising for the coming financial year. At Artlaw we have reached a stage where the organisation has become sufficiently established to have set up schemes which will eventually, we hope, produce the income required to support the operation. However, we have not yet reached this point and I am taking this opportunity to outline some of the things we are currently working on.

CONFERENCE-Legal change for the Visual Arts?
This is taking place on Friday 4th January 1980 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. It will be a very intensive day with about twenty-five different speakers taking part and we will be airing such subjects as: income tax, VAT, national insurance and social security, copyright, charities, resale royalty and moral rights, art in public places and tax incentives for art purchases and donations. A brochure is available from Janet Tod at the office (Tel. 01-240 0610).

We have in preparation a series of booklets for artists and art administrators on artist and tax, artist and copyright, artist and studio, and setting up art organisations. These will be sold at a low price, but will also have an added purpose in producing some income for the publication of further books. Our first publication, the collected Artlaw Articles from
Art Monthly, sells very well and we have now produced a second expanded edition containing all of the articles up to March 1979, which costs £1 and is available from the office.

Throughout the past year we have been running workshops for artists and administrators all over the country covering subjects such as setting up a studio, selling work, exhibiting, taxation, social security and other legal practicalities of working as an artist or administrator. We have also given numerous lectures in art schools which we believe to be a very constructive part of our work.

This is one of the main elements of our efforts to achieve a truly independent self-supporting organisation. Artlaw arose out of needs expressed by the arts community, and it exists to meet those needs. It is therefore essential that the closest possible contact be maintained between Artlaw Services and the people for whom we work.

The subscription scheme works rather like membership of the A.A. (Automobile Association) – you hope that you aren’t going to need it, but it’s good to know it’s there. Our current subscription rate is £10 per annum and a brochure giving details is available from the office. Legal help through the office is free, but we ask all clients to become subscribers. We would like to encourage subscription by people who support our work and want Artlaw to continue to exist, and we will be making substantial efforts in the future to explain that this type of subscription will become the life-blood of Artlaw. Subscribers receive a number of additional benefits including:

  • 25% discount on purchase of publications;
  • 25% discount on registration fees for Artlaw events and priority booking;
  • Access to the office library;
  • Mailing of all information about Artlaw Services;
  • Referral to lawyers with an expertise in artlaw;

I am therefore taking the opportunity of using this space to ask Art Monthly readers to subscribe and also to attend the Conference in January.

As you know, I have recently interviewed a number of artists about their experiences of legal issues in relation to their work and this is to be one of my next Artlaw Columns. ‘Normal service’ will be resumed next month, by which time I hope that we will have completed all the necessary work for the coming financial year which has prevented me from producing my column this month.

With best wishes,
Yours sincerely,

© Henry Lydiate 1979.


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This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material. The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.