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Arts Court: SAW Video. Photo by Greggory Clark.

Artists’ Legal Services Ottawa to host arts law conference in honour of its 5th anniversary

By Byron Pascoe on April 25, 2018

Byron Pascoe is an Ottawa-based entertainment lawyer with Edwards PC, Creative Law. Byron works with musicians, video content producers, and authors, among other creative professionals and businesses. He’s a former television producer who grew up in Nepean, now lives in Stittsville, and works out of Westboro.


Byron has been a board member of Artists’ Legal Services Ottawa since 2015.

Since 2013, Artists’ Legal Services Ottawa (ALSO) has organized several free legal information sessions annually, for artists in the national capital region, on topics from copyright to contracts, tax to labour issues.

In its fifth year, ALSO’s working board of directors, composed of lawyers and artists, has decided that instead of hosting a few sessions, they will focus on one conference. The purpose is to assemble many more speakers and legal topics relevant to artists, from photographers to visual artists, musicians to filmmakers, and everyone in between.

While many artists turn to legal services after they feel they have been… handled badly, to put it mildly, legal information is power. There’s no reason an artist should be negatively impacted because they didn’t understand what lawyers might describe as the legal basics on topics from copyright to contracts. Free proactive legal information, from blogs to presentations, can play a small role in ensuring that artists’ rights are preserved, protected, and respected, and the likelihood for disputes and being handled badly are significantly reduced.

Access to justice has therefore been a key theme of ALSO since day one, and will continue to be into the future.

For a dose of this proactive legal information, this conference exists and is taking place on Saturday, May 5 at Arts Court (2 Daly Avenue).

The program commences at 10am, and the morning will include a welcome from ALSO co-founder Tanya Woods, the Chief Impact Office of Kind Village.

Penny McCann, media artist and outgoing Director of SAW Video. Photo by Eric Walker.

The morning also includes a key note address from Penny McCann, media artist and outgoing Director of SAW Video. The title of her address is Precarity and Persistence: Navigating a Career in the Arts. “My keynote will focus on a 25+ year career in the arts in Ottawa, keeping body and soul together as an administrator while persisting as a filmmaker,” says McCann, who will also be showing one of her short films during her address. The conference almost directly coincides with her departure from SAW Video, after joining in 2004.

There will also be sessions covering artist considerations with respect to three areas of law. Chantal Beaupré (Avocats Lister-Beaupré Lawyers) and Karine Dion (Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP) will speak about labour and employment issues for artists. Jason Kim (HazloLaw Business Lawyers) and Sarwar Qureshi, CPA, CA (Paterson & Company) will speak about tax issues for artists. Entertainment and estates lawyer William Devonish will speak about succession planning for artists. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way—to distribute your IP Assets. What a will can do and who should do it,” is how Devonish describes his important session.

The afternoon includes a mentorship lunch which includes opportunity to speak directly with the speakers and other mentors.

The focus of afternoon sessions is on arts practice areas. Adam M. Tracey (Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP) and Matthew Estabrooks (Gowling WLG), and visual artist and poet Komi Olaf will lead the fine arts stream. I will be joined by entertainment lawyer and ALSO President Lyndra Griffith, as well as JUNO award winner Kellylee Evans for the music stream. My colleague Mark Edwards (Edwards PC, Creative Law), Film Commissioner Bruce Harvey (Ottawa Film Office), and filmmaker and ALSO board member Max McGuire will lead the media arts stream session.
After some closing remarks, including from Howard Knopf (Moffat & Co.) speaking about upcoming copyright law changes, there will be a reception and networking event, in part to celebrate ALSO’s fifth year, and to encourage more collaborations among our city’s arts community.

Thanks in part to funding received by the City of Ottawa, ticket prices were reduced to $25, includes taxes, and are available, until they sell out, by heading to artscourt.ca/events/also-arts-law-conference.


The ALSO Arts Law Conference takes place on Saturday May 5, from 10am-6pm, at Arts Court (2 Daly Avenue). Admission is $25. For more information, visit www.artslawottawa.ca.