Though artists enrich society’s culture and its members’ imaginations, they are often deprived of justice. Fordham Law’s Artist Representation Society, a new organization of the Public Interest Resource Center (PIRC), aims to combat exploitation of artists and to educate artists about their legal rights.
Spearheading the group are Anna Cui and Andreas Moffett, 1L students who share a background in the arts. A dancer since childhood, Cui has participated on several dance teams and maintains professional representation. In her free time, she dances with EPIC Motion Dance Company, an award-winning organization that promotes individuality and innovation. Moffett is an experienced opera performer who sang on the stage for several years. Nowadays, he sings with Downtown Voices, a semiprofessional choir comprised of volunteer singers and members of the Grammy-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street.
The artistic pair met on one of the Law School’s elevators when Cui overheard Moffett talking about his Fordham application’s personal statement, in which he voiced his plans to create a group to advocate for artists’ rights. As she listened, Cui heard an echoing of her own personal statement. She introduced herself, and soon they began discussing ideas for the proposed group.
The Artist Representation Society (or ARS, which translates to “art” in Latin) stems from the pair’s witnessing a recurring mistreatment of artists. “The industry is rife with the exploitation of artists,” said Moffett. This exploitation, they explained, includes low and delayed payments, poor working conditions, tax filing misguidance, and manipulation of contract rights. They also acknowledged that, while artist unions exist to combat injustice, they sometimes restrict artists’ job options and require them to pay expensive dues.
“Most times the artists have no option but to take it,” said Moffett. “There’s not a lot of support on their side,” added Cui.
Many artists do not even know their rights, according to the two students. Taking advantage of Fordham Law’s alumni network and connection to Lincoln Center, the ARS plans to create and implement a curriculum that educates artists on their legal rights. After devising a curriculum, group members will reach out to arts schools and companies to propose their instructional panels. They hope to foster a relationship with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, including the Juilliard School.
The ARS also plans to reach out to Fordham’s Samuelson-Glushko Intellectual Property and Information Law Clinic. Since its founding nine years ago, the clinic has advised NYC artists on protecting their expression and avoiding infringing the copyrights of others. Artists typically discover the clinic through the web, through the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, or other organizations like Juilliard. The clinic’s past cases have involved representing a rapper accused of infringing his own music by his former manager, drafting agreements to help a cellist make a documentary, and helping an actor-turned-playwright navigate the border between fair use and copyright infringement in his new play.
Ron Lazebnik, director of the clinic, said that he looks forward to collaborating with the PIRC group.
“It’s an exciting project and I look forward to seeing it develop,” said Lazebnik. “It’s always great to see when our students are enthusiastic to interact with the law to help individuals without easy access to legal guidance.”
The ARS welcomes the participation of any law student who partakes in or values the arts. The group also seeks advisors in the fields of art law, tax law, employment law, and other related areas. For more information, those interested can contact Cui at or Moffett.