Spotlight on Art Law: Intensive Course on Artists’ Role in Art Market and Philanthropic Arena

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Professor Stephen Urice and Christine Vincent

Bearing names such as Warhol, Mapplethorpe, Frankenthaler, Mitchell, and Pollock-Krasner, artist-endowed foundations have been the focus of a 9-year research, publication and education initiative of the Aspen Institute. Miami Law students learned first-hand about this subject matter when they enrolled in the short course, "Artist-Endowed Foundation: Law & Policy" during the Spring 2016 semester.

The course introduced students to legal and policy issues of charitable, tax-exempt entities (“501(c)(3)’s”) through the lens of artist-endowed foundations. It was co-taught by Christine J. Vincent, and Miami Law Professor Stephen Urice who is also Director for the Arts Law Track for the LL.M. in Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Program.

Katherine Brennan, a joint degree (J.D./LL.M.) student enrolled in the Arts Law Track of the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law program, appreciated the unique perspective the course offered.

“This class was especially helpful and interesting because the dialogue in the media about the art world seems to be, for the most part, centered around the buying and selling of art, and not necessarily the artists themselves,” said Brennan. “This course emphasized the role of artists in both the art market and the philanthropic sphere…the course got into the nitty-gritty details of issues tax law, fiduciary duties, and the artists’ estate planning.”

Vincent, the Project Director for the Artist-Endowed Foundations Initiative within the Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation at The Aspen Institute, has more than three decades' experience developing and leading philanthropic and cultural programs, policies, and organizations.

“The Initiative's research identified a significant lack of information to assist people who create, lead and advise artist-endowed foundations,” said Vincent. “One of our goals is to stimulate interest in this topic among the next generation of scholars and practitioners in order to address that problem. The students in this class are precisely the types of individuals who will be able to carry this work forward to great impact.”

Professor Urice, an advisor to the Initiative at its inception in 2007, often referenced artist-endowed foundations in his courses on art law. There was student interest in the topic and when the opportunity to co-teach with Vincent presented itself, Urice was delighted. Miami Law is now partnering with the Aspen Institute on several aspects of the Initiative.  

“It was nice to share the work I’ve done with Christine in The Initiative with a small group of remarkably accomplished students at the Law School,” said Urice.

“Having Christine Vincent and Professor Urice co-teach this course was an amazing experience for anyone interested in working in the field of Art Law, and also incredibly helpful to any law student interested in philanthropic work,” Brennan said.

This class is one of several compressed courses offered as part of the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law program, which was founded in Fall, 2015.

“We could not have been more pleased that Christine Vincent joined Professor Stephen Urice in co-teaching ‘Artist-Endowed Foundations: Law & Policy,’” said Harold Flegelman, Founding Director of the program. “This short-course embodies the ideals of all of our short-courses, i.e., building upon the students' critical-thinking skills with practical skills training, and all imparted by experts in the field.  We continue to believe strongly, based upon our own experiences, that this is the best approach for preparing students to be practice ready.”

Brennan agreed. “I think what made this course so special is its focus on artists and how attorneys can help the artists deploy their legacy charitably through the establishment of these foundations.”