Special Reports

MA Top 30 Professional: Jan Feldman

December 6, 2022 | By Wynne Delacoma

Executive Director
Lawyers for the Creative Arts

Even before the Covid pandemic struck in March 2020, Chicago-based Lawyers for the Creative Arts was a trusted friend in need to the city’s artists and small arts organizations.

“One of our donors called us ‘the Red Cross for the arts,’” said Executive Director Jan Feldman, who has headed the 50-year-old organization since 2014. Trained as a commercial litigator, he served on the nonprofit LCA board for a decade before taking the top administrative post. LCA’s staff is small, but it has organized a network of hundreds of pro bono lawyers willing to work with artists and arts groups on legal issues.

“Normally our work is a steady flow,” Feldman said, “800 or so people or organizations each year that come to us for legal help of one kind of another. It’s very broad-based.”

When arts activity of all kinds ground to a halt due to Covid restrictions, he expected those typical requests to drop off. He was wrong.

“It was remarkable,” he said. “The arts community continued to come to us for legal help, to start new businesses and write new contracts. None of that seemed to stop. But on top of all that, there was this tremendous demand for [help with] Covid-related commercial problems.”

Feldman shifted all of LCA’s usual conferences and group presentations to the internet and added new ones related to the pandemic. 

‘‘Interruption insurance, we did a program on that,” he said. “Estate planning—what if people get sick and die? We ended up rolling out all kinds of assistance programs to help organizations apply for loans and grants.”

As the pandemic eases, those kinds of questions are disappearing. But Feldman is still inspired by the way artists forged new ground early in the pandemic.

“It was amazing that folks continued to produce art,” he said. “There was a hopefulness about it that I found quite moving.” 




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