Artists Get a Break from Businesses

Article excerpt

FEW people believe that it pays to be an artist.

But a variety of services are offered free or at discounted prices to visual and performing artists, including accounting, consulting, legal advice, materials, housing, medical treatment - even personal loans.

For example, USAir, the Washington-based airline, has had a policy of offering $20,000 in free tickets to performing arts groups in the nation's capital for promotional notices in these companies' playbooks.

New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs has a Materials Donation Service where artists and arts groups may pick up for free such things as paint, office supplies, tools, lumber and metal, or anything else that institutions and corporations have discarded.

Many art supply stores provide discounts of up to 25 percent to artists. Lots of lawyers, medical personnel, appliance dealers, and even hotel operators are willing to trade their goods and services in whole or in part for works of art.

"We currently have 44 doctors cooperating with us," said Jacqueline Humphries, director of the New York-based Doctors for Artists, which refers visual and performing artists to specialists who have agreed to discount their fees by 20 percent or more. She says that Warren Neidich, the group's founder and president, got the idea from his attorney, who is a member of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.

There are 39 volunteer lawyers-for-the-arts chapters in more than half the states of the country, providing free legal counsel and representation in arts-related cases. If there is litigation, the money that would normally be the attorney's fee may become a donation to the volunteer lawyers association.

Volunteer Accountants for the Arts organizations exist in Cleveland and Houston. Business Volunteers for the Arts has chapters in 15 cities around the country, including Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and Washington.

Membership organizations to which artists belong may also provide them certain reduced-cost services, such as group-rate health insurance, discounts on art magazine subscriptions, and free job referrals. …