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Davis, Alison --- "Support for artists in rural, regional and remote communities" [2001] AltLawJl 31; (2001) 26(2) Alternative Law Journal 94

Community Legal Centres: Support for artists in rural, regional and remote communities

ALISON DAVIS[*] describes the work and services offered by the Arts Law Centre.

Arts Law is the national community legal centre for the arts, providing free preliminary legal advice to artists and arts organisations. Its services are available from anywhere in Australia and are accessible even to the most remote and isolated communities.

It plays a key role for artists and arts organisations by providing legal advice on all aspects of their arts practice. In addition to providing legal advice, Arts Law produces sample contracts, offers a national lecture and seminar program on legal issues in all arts sectors, provides referrals to arts lawyers, publishes a quarterly newsletter, Art+Law, and provides information on its website. Arts Law also plays a significant advocacy role, promoting and protecting the rights and interests of artists.

Artists and arts organisations can access free preliminary telephone legal advice by calling Arts Law’s toll free number (see below). This means that artists with access to a telephone, anywhere in Australia, are able to call Arts Law and speak to a legal officer about their particular query or concern. In the past year Arts Law has provided legal advice to more than 2000 artists, a significant proportion of whom are from regional areas of Australia.

If a caller requires more involved advice, such as a contract review, Arts Law encourages the caller, where appropriate, to subscribe. Subscribers have access to Arts Law’s regular legal advice night service, which involves a face-to-face or telephone consultation with an industry-experienced lawyer. If unable to provide assistance, Arts Law offers referrals to lawyers throughout Australia with expertise in the area.

Arts Law also publishes a variety of free information sheets on legal issues in the arts, sells a range of sample contracts and seminar papers and publishes and distributes to subscribers a quarterly newsletter, Art+Law. The newsletter includes articles on a wide range of legal issues affecting artists such as ‘Selling Art on the Internet’, ‘Moral Rights and Indigenous Artists’, and ‘Understanding Contracts’.

Arts Law’s website, at <>, contains a range of free information sheets and articles on legal issues in the arts. These offer practical advice to artists about how to protect their rights. We recognises that many callers are in remote areas, and by making material available on our website, we try to ensure that anyone with access to the Internet, irrespective of their location, can easily obtain free, written information.

Arts Law also seeks to address the difficulties that many isolated communities face in accessing information on legal issues through its program of seminars and lectures. Since 1998, we have conducted regional tours of Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. In 2000, in conjunction with Charles Sturt University, we presented a one-day workshop in Wagga Wagga on ‘Copyright and Ownership in the New Millennium’. Other regional activities have included workshops on legal issues for visual artists in Pularumpi on Melville Island, participation in a one-day conference on censorship in Wollongong and participation in the National Independent Electronic Labels Conference in Newcastle.

Arts Law has a long history of working with Indigenous artists and art communities, and plays a significant role in providing legal advice and educational seminars to the Indigenous arts sector in consultation with bodies such as the National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association (NIAAA) and regional and community Indigenous arts organisations. We recognise that it is important to develop an ongoing dialogue with Indigenous communities in order to learn about their concerns and priorities.

For more information on Arts Law or to obtain legal advice call 02 9356 2566 or from outside Sydney 1800 221 457, fax us 02 9358 6475 or email Check the website at <>.

[*] Alison Davis is Legal Officer, Arts Law Centre of Australia.

© 2001 Alison Davis

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