The Arts

The arts – including the visual arts and the performing arts – are based on original, creative works the production of which often requires successfully tackling a complex web of commercial, intellectual property, artistic, and, possibly, First Amendment matters to achieve the maximum benefits for the client.

In the visual arts, the key players – the artists, art dealers and galleries, auction houses, buyers, owners, museums, and other institutions – face a diverse range of matters that all demand proper attention. Depending on the circumstances and the perspective of the client, these issues might include authenticity of provenance; insurance coverage for transporting or loaning works of art; the duties owed by an art gallery or dealer to an artist represented by that gallery, including the risks, duties, and State law protections relevant to consigned artworks and the implications if the dealer or gallery go into bankruptcy; the commercial relationship between an artist and a gallery or dealer; and the rights under copyright conveyed or retained by an artist as part of a commission to create a new work of art or in selling an existing work. Due to the global nature of the art market, counseling also might be needed on non-U.S. laws, such as any of the entitlements comprising the so-called moral rights of artists.

The performing arts, similarly, include multiple layers of commercial and legal issues requiring extensive experience to successfully navigate and achieve the desired creative and business results. One reason is that the creative process in this field, whether for a live dramatic work, a ballet, a musical, or any other similar work, often requires a collaboration among multiple “authors” – for example, productions commonly include a playwright, dramaturg, composer, lyricist, director, choreographer, and costume designer. Successfully producing and presenting a live theatrical production therefore demands completing numerous tasks properly, including agreements for obtaining the necessary intellectual property rights from all of these contributors, agreeing on the economic terms for each of these individuals, securing financing, and identifying and renting the theater(s) for the performances, among many other pre-production activities.

We are experienced in the artistic and business aspects of the art market from all perspectives, and also in assembling and producing live dramatic works, ballets, and other performance works, and in representing the individual creators, financial investors, and performers of those productions. With so many intellectual property matters, commercial terms, risks, and rewards associated with the arts, we provide a unique legal understanding and commercial knowledge for these matters in working to structure arrangements that achieve our clients’ goals and protect their interests. In addition, our other work in entertainment and media enable us to collaborate with our clients in the arts to identify other methods for distributing, marketing, and monetizing their projects and businesses.

We have advised clients on, and negotiated and closed, a diverse range of matters and deals relating to the Arts, including the following:

  • Matters relating to producing live theatrical productions, including dramatic plays, musicals, and ballets
  • Agreements for acquiring live stage rights, including “life story rights” and live stage rights for literary works and motion pictures
  • Agreements with composers and lyricists for composing new music for musicals, ballets, and other “dramatico-musical” works (productions consisting of music and drama)
  • Agreements for acquiring “grand rights” for musical compositions
  • Agreements with talent, including actors, choreographers, designers, directors, and playwrights,
  • Agreements with theaters and other venues for presenting live theatrical productions
  • Agreements for the consignment and sale of artwork, including sales by auction houses, dealers, and galleries, and private sales
  • Agreements for fabricating, printing, and making other reproductions of artwork
  • Representation agreements between artists and galleries or art dealers
  • Artwork commission agreements (including fabrication and installation matters)
  • Lending and exhibiting artwork
  • Copyright, trademark, First Amendment, right of publicity, and other legal matters related to artwork
  • Royalties and other compensation matters for creative talent in the Arts

The firm's creative arts clients have included the following:

  • Live theatrical talent, including:
    • actors,
    • choreographers,
    • designers,
    • directors, and
    • playwrights
  • Producers of live theatrical productions
  • Artists, including:
    • painters
    • multimedia artists
    • photographers
    • sculptors
  • Galleries and art dealers
  • Parties commissioning original artwork
  • Buyers of artwork