About Us

This website, the Elder Artists’ Legal Resource, is a unique collaboration among Columbia Law School’s Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic, the City University of New York Elder Law Clinic, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, the Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC) at The Actors Fund, and the National Center for Creative Aging. This collaboration extends the work begun in the RCAC’s ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY project to all artists. By combining forces, we have created the “next step” to ART CART’s initiative for older artists to document their work: a set of instruments to protect that work after the artist’s death. This partnership of legal and artistic skills and sensibilities reflects the interdisciplinary basis for ART CART.



ARTCART: SAVING THE LEGACY, is an intergenerational, interdisciplinary project dedicated to documenting and preserving the work of aging artists and saving our national legacy. It matches advanced students in the arts, health and aging with professional visual artists over a nine-month period. The records are archived at Columbia University’s open source archive, Academic Commons.

The project grew from results of the RCAC’s 2008 study, Above Ground: Information on Artists III: Special Focus New York City Aging Artists, revealing that artists are in many respects a model for society, maintaining strong social networks and an astonishing resilience as they age. Yet 61% of New York City professional visual artists of age 62 or more have made no preparation for their work after their death; 95% have not archived their work; 97% have no estate plan; 3 out of every 4 artists have no will and 1 in 5 have no documentation of their work at all. ART CART and the ELDER ARTISTS’ LEGAL RESOURCE seek to remedy this situation.

THE RESEARCH CENTER FOR ARTS AND CULTURE (RCAC) provides data and ideas for applied research, education, advocacy, policy making, and action. The Research Center for Arts and Culture’s mission is to:

  • Provide long-term, systematic research and documentation on the condition, needs, and situation of the living artist in America
  • Explore the relationship between the public, individual artists, and the arts sector
  • Serve as an auspice for research by scholars, students and professionals in arts management education and training around the world
  • Provide a forum for research and discussion about cultural policy, arts education, and arts law issues

Artists, arts institutions, academics, researchers, private funders, policy makers and students use the Center’s research and resources for a variety of purposes. These data show that many artists have similar career paths, goals, and obstacles, particularly in relation to their status in society. Founded in 1985 at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, the RCAC has been a part of The Actors Fund since 2015, with Joan Jeffri its founder and director.


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THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR CREATIVE AGING (NCCA) is the national clearinghouse at the nexus of creativity and aging, it is dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and quality of life for older adults.

The process of aging is a profound experience marked by increasing physical and emotional change and a heightened search for meaning and purpose.  Creative expression is important for older people of all cultures and ethnic backgrounds, regardless of economic status, age, or level of physical, emotional, or cognitive functioning.  The arts can serve as a powerful way to engage elders in a creative and healing process of self-expression, enabling them to create works that honor their life experience.


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The Columbia Law School Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic explores the intersection of technology with law practice and the profession. We accomplish our mission by working with public interest organizations and the courts to use technology to improve access to justice. We are pleased to partner with ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY in creating The Elder Artists’ Legal Resource, which endeavors to use technology to help aging artists engage in legacy planning. Columbia Law students in the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic work under the direction of Profs. Conrad Johnson, Esq., Mary Marsh Zulack, Esq., and Brian Donnelly, Esq., the Law School’s Director of Educational Technology.


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The CUNY School of Law Elder Law Clinic represents clients who are grappling with a variety of legal issues and problems related to aging and incapacity. They work primarily in the areas of adult guardianships, estate and incapacity planning, and government benefits.  Interns examine the theory, doctrine and practice of elder law, and develop the skills necessary to provide high quality representation focused on understanding and responding to the client’s goals and wishes.  Legal interns, under the direction of Professors Joe Rosenberg and Degna Levister, appear in court on adult guardianship and estate administration cases, develop expertise in planning and drafting, and work on advocacy and community education projects related to law, aging, and decision making capacity issues. The Clinic is co-directed by Profs. Joe Rosenberg, Esq. and Degna Levister, Esq.


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Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts is the pioneer in arts-related legal aid and education programs about the legal and business issues that affect artists and arts organizations. VLA believes that individual artists and arts organizations deserve access to dedicated legal representation and advocacy to ensure that their voices are heard and that their interests are protected.  VLA also believes that the arts community should understand certain legal and business matters to protect themselves and their work.  To achieve these goals, VLA serves the arts community through 3 programs: Legal Services with MediateArt; Education; and Advocacy.

VLA’s largest program, the VLA Legal Services Department, offers counseling and assistance to the entire arts community as well as pro bono legal representation to low-income artists and nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.  All of VLA’s other programs are open to the entire creative community as well as the lawyers and law students VLA trains to serve the arts community.  As the first arts-related legal aid organization, VLA is the model for similar organizations around the world.