The art scene in the U.S. is made even more vibrant with the addition of international artists and performers, but often theaters, galleries, schools, artists, and even the attorneys who advise them can get tripped up on the legal requirements for them to work here. With the ongoing shut-downs and immigration bans in response to COVID-19, planning to bring international artists to the country has been made exponentially more complicated.
Join the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts May 21 for a live online CLE webinar 12-1:30 p.m. to hear from two experienced immigration attorneys, who will provide the procedural and legal options available for artists and performers/entertainers to visit the U.S. All artists, arts organizations, attorneys, and legal professionals are welcome to attend by Zoom video conferencing and engage in Q&A free of charge. Attorneys may receive CLE credit for free in return for a future volunteer pro bono commitment to the VLA, or attend for CLE credit by paid registration without volunteer commitment. Click here for info and to register. 

Public resources in the time of COVID-19 - full list here; how to donate here

For the community at large:
  • Cleveland Pandemic Response (CPR) is a group of organizers and community members who are helping facilitate the exchange of services, donations and volunteer time in Northeast Ohio during the COVID-19 crisis. Residents can request help at
  • Childcare Request from CPR - click here
  • Free child care for essential workers provided by the YMCA of Greater Cleveland - click here
  • The Greater Cleveland Food Bank:
  • Local free meals - click here
  • If your employment situation has changed with the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be eligible for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). To apply for benefits, contact your local SNAP office - click here for Cuyahoga County.
  • Basic needs items for families from Providence House - click here
  • Comcast to offer free broadband to low-income households amid Coronavirus crisis - click here
  • COVID-19 interest-free emergency loans from HFLA of Northeast Ohio - click here
  • If your financial situation has changed with the COVID-19 outreach, you may be eligible for Medicaid. Go to the Medicaid Eligibility website to see if you qualify and start the enrollment process.
  • Many community health clinics offer free services or sliding fees, depending on your ability to pay. In Cuyahoga County, resources include Care Alliance or Neighborhood Family Practice.
  • If you or a member of your family is undocumented, please do not forgo medical help! Learn more about how seeking treatment or preventative care will NOT affect your immigration status by clicking here.
  • Check how your bank is responding to the coronavirus crisis - click here 
For artists and arts groups:

The VLA Mission

  • Facilitate access to legal services for Northeast Ohio artists and arts organizations, including pro bono legal representation and referrals to income-eligible artists and arts organizations in all disciplines
  • Develop educational resources for and build a living network of the region’s lawyers, artists, and arts organizations
  • Advocate for a strong and vibrant arts community

How we serve the community

  • For artists: If you are an artist or arts organization in the Greater Cleveland area seeking free legal assistance, please contact the VLA to submit an application.
  • For the public: The VLA is committed to partnering with local arts and nonprofit organizations to present free, public law-related education programs. Past presentations have focused on topics such as leasing, gallery agreements, sales, and intellectual property protection. If you have an idea for an educational program, please let us know!
  • For attorneys: We are currently seeking attorneys to join the VLA Committee to help us carry out our mission. If you are interested in joining the VLA, please submit your committee request form.


Video now available of past VLA presentations!

  • Click here for video of the Dec. 3, 2020 webinar "Intellectual Property Basics & Real Life Applications" VLA Bootcamp 2020: Part II (with featured panelists Thomas M. Horwitz, Thomas M. Horwitz Co. LPA & VLA Vice Chair; George Geddes, Attorney at Law; Edward Caja, Walter | Haverfield LLP; and Moderator: Katie Steiner, Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP & VLA Chair)
  • Click here for video of the Nov. 5, 2020 webinar "Contracts for Creative Employees" VLA Bootcamp 2020: Part I (with featured panelists Thomas M. Horwitz of Thomas M. Horwitz Co. LPA, and Anna Kelberg-Kim, Attorney at Law)
  • Click here for video of the Oct. 27, 2020 webinar “Political Activism, Lobbying, and Free Speech for Nonprofits” in partnership with Reach Out for Nonprofits (featuring panelists Alex Campbell of Schneider Smeltz Spieth Bell LLP, Michael Bowen of Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP, Andrew Geronimo of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and moderator and VLA past Chair Jaclyn Vary of Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP)
  • Click here for video of the Sept. 17, 2020 webinar: "Protecting Your Creativity" in partnership with iN Education (Part I: Intellectual Property Law by Edward Caja, Walter | Haverfield LLP; Part II: Legal Issues in Fashion Law by Clare Shin, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and Part III:  Social Media for Creatives by Katie Steiner, Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP) 
  • Click here for video of the May 21, 2020: “Bringing Creatives to the Country: Immigration Issues for Artists & Arts Organizations in the Time of COVID-19” with panelists Weronika Costas of The Costas Network Law Center, LLC and Svetlana Kats, Attorney at Law

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts is a program of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, with funding support provided by the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation.

The CMBF is a 501(c)(3) organization; gifts to it are tax deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.

Helpful Links and Resources

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