Overview

St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA) connects artists and arts organizations of every discipline with accountants and lawyers who donate their time and expertise to help their appreciative clients navigate the complicated world of finance and law. We also provide information and skills training designed to help the arts community develop sound business practices.

Through VLAA, more than 300 accountants and lawyers offer counsel to artists and administrators who are asking for help in record numbers. Each year, our volunteers donate more than $100,000 in pro bono services to the arts community.

Founded in 1982 by St. Louis University School of Law and the city’s Arts and Humanities Commission, VLAA is housed in the Regional Arts Commission’s building on Delmar, which opened in 2003. Our primary service area is greater St. Louis, which includes St. Louis City, St. Charles, St. Louis, and Jefferson counties in Missouri and Madison and St. Clair counties in Illinois. But we also serve Columbia and eastern Missouri.

We added arts-related mediation to our menu of services in 1997. Mediation is an innovative and informal process in which trained neutral mediators help disputing parties communicate directly with each other in order to create their own solutions. While the caseload for mediation is not large, those who have used the service say it is invaluable.

Because familiarity with arts law and business practices can help avoid legal and accounting problems, we have an extensive education program that includes a popular Business Edge series for individual artists; Accidental Arts Administrator, which provides a regular, low-cost opportunity for those running small and emerging arts organizations to obtain affordable basic training in arts management and annual training in QuickBooks. Our Upstart program provides training and support to college students and faculty.

We also provide speakers to educational and professional organizations, publish free, easy-to-understand guides on issues affecting artists and arts organizations and maintain a resource library.

VLAA is supported by the Regional Arts Commission with additional funds provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Arts and Education Council; foundations; law and accounting firms; corporations; individuals; and workshop fees. Donations are tax deductible.

In 2005, VLAA received the Missouri Arts Award from Gov. Matt Blunt.

Without our services, hundreds of St. Louis area artists would be denied the opportunity to fully develop their creative capabilities, and emerging arts organizations — where the cultural fermentation that make our region so vital truly begins — would not have the peace of mind that allows them to concentrate on “dancing their dance.”

St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts, 6128 Delmar, St. Louis, MO 63112; 314/863-6930; vlaa@stlrac.org

"Having access to supportive organizations and resources like VLAA allows us to be and remain focused on bringing forth our creative vision to the world community."
David A.N. Jackson, artist

"VLAA is an extraordinary resource for creative people who need to take care of business."
Jill A. McGuire, executive director, Regional Arts Commission

 

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