ALAS to Commemorate 30 Years of Helping Artists

Imagine being an artist of any persuasion: Trying to make a name for yourself in your chosen medium, working so hard for the opportunity at a chance to get a break, writing or painting or drawing or sculpting for who knows how long before anything seems like it might pay off.

Now imagine having to fight a lawsuit just when things started to go right for you. Or trying to navigate the murky waters of securing copyright protections for your work.

For 30 years, Artists’ Legal Advice Services in Toronto has been providing free legal service for artists of all types in Ontario. That’s a milestone worth celebrating.

On Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 7:30-10:30 p.m., the organization is hosting an anniversary party at Hugh’s Room on Dundas Street West in Toronto, a party that’s open to the public to help shine a light on the organization’s work.

“Artists’ Legal Advice Services (ALAS) provides free summary legal advice to artists living in Ontario, Canada. For three decades ALAS has been helping artists of all disciplines including actors, musicians, dancers, writers an filmmakers address their legal challenges, including issues relating to contracts, defamation, copyright, trademarks and royalties or other payments,” according to a statement released by the organization.

Take a look around: There are legal issues all over the place for artists, no matter how big or small. In the past week, this very website has detailed legal cases facing Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, Blind Melon and Beyoncé, to name just three. Copyright infringement, royalty payment struggles, trademark issues; these are things musicians in particular have to deal with all the time.

Part of the Artists and Lawyers for the Advancement of Creativity (ALAC), a Canada-wide nonprofit organization made up of lawyers both still in law school and with their own firms or practices, ALAS is an entirely volunteer-led organization of people who volunteer their time “to provide legal advice to artists who may not be able to afford more expensive alternatives.

This year’s party will be hosted by David Baskin, former president and CEO of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency and former counsel to the Canadian Music Publishers Association, now a professor at Ryerson University and host of “Stolen Moments,” a show on Jazz FM.

Scheduled to perform at the event are Craig Caridff, a folk singer from Waterloo; Countermeasure, an award-winning a cappella group; co-host and singer Diem La Fortune, the Toronto-based singer/songwriter who won the Harry Hibbs Award for Perseverance in music and song writing from the Maple Blues Society, and Danny Marks, a founding member of Edward Bear, star of CBC’s radio series the Hum Line and 30-year host of JAZZ FM91’s Saturday night blues show.

Tickets are $30 in advance at $32.50 at the door; if you’re free and have a fondness for creative types making a go of it in the world, consider checking out the event.

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

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