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LCA Stands in Solidarity

We at Lawyers for the Creative Arts stand with the individuals and organizations expressing their communal revulsion over the tragedy in Minneapolis. We join them in seeking ways to replace the systemic racism that led to the death of George Floyd, and of others in similar circumstances, with the rule of equal justice under law.  

The arts and other non-profit groups have identified resources for those desiring to assist individuals on the frontlines of protest and to advocate for change. We’ve collected several of those resource listings below.

The arts have a unique role in expressing the deepest human feelings, including those arising from the crisis, protest, and societal trauma our country is now experiencing. The many murals and graffiti-style portraits of George Floyd that have emerged from the current protests are good examples*.  LCA is proud to support all those in the arts in their too-often under-appreciated contributions to helping us get through difficult times and envision a better future.

*See: "...Street Artists Around the World Are Painting Murals to Memorialize George Floyd..."


Florence Hardy

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A graduate of the John Marshall Law School, Florence has been a successful business consultant for over 12 years. She has a Masters in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurship from DePaul University and received a Bachelors in Business Administration from Howard University. She worked for the City of Chicago, DePaul University, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Trucrowd Illinois, Inc, the first registered equity Crowdfunding platform in Illinois. Besides her duties with truCrowd, she also operates her own law firm focusing on small business owners, artists and artisans. Florence is also an Adjunct Professor of Business Ethics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Florence has lived and studied in Chicago, Illinois, Washington, DC and Berlin, Germany.

 

Alex Karana

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Alex Karana is one of three LCA interns this semester. Alex is a graduating 3L at UIC John Marshall Law School. Before LCA, Alex served as a student attorney at the John Marshall’s Patent Clinic. Currently, Alex is the Editor-in-Chief of the Review of Intellectual Property Law at UIC John Marshall and also serves as a judicial extern at the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois. Before law school, Alex worked in the automotive industry and holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Michigan State University ‘13. 

 

Jeffrey S. Becker

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Jeff Becker is Chair of Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP’s Entertainment and Media Law Practice Group. Among his clients are Grammy Award-winning musicians, producers and songwriters, publishers and record labels, professional athletes, authors, independent filmmakers and other creative individuals and entertainment-related businesses. For these clients, Jeff provides comprehensive representation in the transactional and litigation aspects of their businesses. In doing so, he counsels clients in the preparation, analysis and negotiation of various issues, including licensing and distribution rights, royalty negotiations and disputes, rights acquisition and clearances, talent agreements, production and performance agreements, music publishing and licensing agreements, recording contracts and master license agreements, sponsorship and endorsement agreements, and artist management agreements. Jeff strives to find the most cost-efficient way to help clients secure and protect their rights. He is an Adjunct Professor at DePaul University College of Law, where he teaches Music Law, and has guest lectured on entertainment-related topics at various colleges, law schools and conferences across the country.

Jeff also previously served as Chair of the Swanson Martin & Bell, LLP’s Community Service/Pro Bono Committee. He proudly volunteers his time to Lawyers for the Creative Arts and is a founding member and former President of the Associate Board.

 

Unemployment Benefits and Paycheck Protection Program Loans FAQ

I'm a Sole Proprietor, Independent Contractor, or Freelancer. Should I Apply for both PPP and Unemployment as a worker at my own business?

We do not have guidance on this question from the state or federal government, and so our response is somewhat speculative.

PPP loans are intended to help businesses keep their workers on the payroll. Unemployment benefits are intended for workers who are no longer working and being paid. You may very well run into legal issues if you receive a PPP loan based on payments to yourself from your own business, and receive unemployment benefits for being out of work at the same time.

Another approach might be to apply for a PPP loan first, use the payroll benefits for the applicable 8 weeks to pay yourself, and then apply for unemployment benefits once the PPP funds are exhausted. But again, no government agencies have provided any guidance with regard to this course of action. LCA will continue to update these FAQs as the situation continues to develop.

 

Unemployment Benefits and the CARES Act

Before the federal CARES Act was enacted, a W-2 employee in Illinois was entitled to 26 weeks of benefits after losing their job. The CARES Act lengthened the period that an eligible worker can obtain benefits from 26 to 39 weeks. It also provided an additional $600 in weekly benefits for those receiving regular unemployment benefits, and provided an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits for those who had previously exhausted their unemployment benefits.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) portion of the CARES Act recognizes the plight of laid off workers who are not employees, and provides certain benefits through the unemployment compensation system. 

 

I’m a Sole Proprietor, Independent Contractor, or Freelancer. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

Yes, but it's complicated. The PUA portion of the CARES Act provides benefits to workers not typically eligible for unemployment benefits, primarily, sole proprietors (SPs), independent contractors (ICs), and freelancers, who were laid off or lost work as a direct result of COVID-19.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) is mandating that all SPs, IPs and freelancers apply for benfits using the existing application that is intended for W-2 employees. According to IDES, workers must receive a denial for regular unemployment benefits in order to be eligible for PUA benefits.

You may ask: "Why is IDES mandating that I apply for unemployment as a W-2 employee, if I'm an SP, IP or freelancer?" The answer is: We don't know for sure, but it may be because the IDES takes a very expansive position on who is an employee, and that position may be inconsistent witht he practices of both employers and employees. The key language in IDES's most recent guidance is: "Workers who are employees covered by the unemployment insurance system are sometimes told they're not. Even if an individual's employer does not consider the worker to be covered and doesn't pay unemployment taxes on the individual's wages, the individual can qualify for benefitsif IDES determines he or she is covered under state law." In other words, the IDES takes the position that it is not bound by the company's (or the worker's) view on who is an independent contractor and who is an employee. They reserve the right to make that decision based on the facts of each case, and they may well allow a worker paid as a 1099 independent contractor to receive unemployment benefits the same as a W-2 employee.

The Bottom Line is This: If you are an SP, IP, or freelancer, and your work has been reduced or eliminated because of the Coronavirus pandemic, you should apply for unemployment benefits through the existing IDES application for employees. The IDES will review your application, and if they decide that you should have been categorized as an "employee," they will grant your application under the existing law. If they decide that you are not a covered employee, they will deny your application, and that denial will allow you to apply for PUA benefits through the new portal.

 

I work a number of jobs. Most of my income comes from 1099 independent contractor work, but I also work a couple of hours a week as a W-2 employee. I hear that I will only be eligible for unemployment benefits based on the small amount that comes from my W-2 work. Is that true?

Unfortunately, that appears to be the way the CARES Act is currently being interpreted. Right now, everyone applying for unemployment beneefits must start by filing for standard W-2 unemployment benefits. If enough of your income during the relevant period is from W-2 work, the IDES will grant your application and calculate your benefits based entirely on your W-2 work, even if that is a small part of your income.

 

Okay, but why can't I then apply for PUA benefits based on my 1099 income?

The PUA provides benefits to workers not eligible for standard W-2 unemployment benefits. On the first page, the PUA application asks whether you've applied for and been denied standard W-2 unemployment benefits. If you were not denied benefits entirely (due to your W-2 employment), you would have to answer "No" to that question, and your application will automatically be denied.

 

But, that doens't make any sense! The purpose of PUA is to give benefits to Independent Contractors, Sole Proprietors, and Freelancers. Why should a small amount of W-2 income lock me out of PUA benefits?

That very question was posed to Governor Pritzker at his press conference on May 12, 2020. He noted that his office is aware of the issue and is pursuing a fix.

 

COVID-19 Resources and Brief Service Response Center

The economic effects of business closures are taking a harsh toll on the performing arts community. Lawyers for the Creative Arts is committed to helping the Illinois art community understand the legal issues arising from performance cancellations.

We've created our Brief Service Response Center to provide general advice by telephone on issues relating to cancellations. The Response Center is open for individual artists and managers of arts organizations affected by the Coronavirus crisis. The application form is short, and we will attempt to respond to you in a timely manner. We ask that you please be patient as we work through the requests.

For those needing representation by an attorney for any arts-related matter, please continue to use our normal Legal Referral Service, which remains fully operational. Additionally, LCA's Patricia Felch Arts Mediation Services are ready and able to provide neutral mediators to assist with all kinds of arts disputes.

If you live outside of Illinois, you may want to contact the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts organization in your state. A list of these organizations can be found here.
 

Visit Our Brief Service Response Center                               Unemployment Benefits and PPP FAQ


Coronavirus Resource List

This list gives those in the arts community access to sites and services that may be of assistance in navigating the challenges created by the Coronavirus pandemic.  Please refer back to it periodically for new or supplemented entries.

 

Resources You May Need Now

Resources for Reopening Arts Organizations

Restore Illinois - Illinois Government Guidance

Be Safe Chicago - Reopening Guidelines

Guide to Reopening Theatrical Venues

  • Information and guidance on reopening theatres and performing arts venues.

How effective are liability waivers in the age of the novel coronavirus?

  • Discussion of the efficacy and limits of liability waivers as businesses begin to reopen

 

Discussions of Available Resources

Lawyers for the Creative Arts / Perkins Coie Webinar on Business Interruption Insurance

  • Information on availability and structure of Business Interruption Insurance for performing arts organizations

Unemployment Relief and Related Benefits

Rent and Mortgage Assistance

 

Assistance with State Unemployment Benefits
     (Please be patient in case of high call volume)

CARPLS

  • Call (312) 738-9200

Legal Aid Chicago

  • Call (312) 341-1070

 

Federal and State Financial Relief Programs

Paycheck Protection Program (SBA)

Local Banks Serving PPP Loan Applicants

COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Application

 

 

Additional Resources and Assistance

Private Assistance

Artist Relief

  • Fund created by small to mid-sized national arts grantmakers
  • $5,000 grants available to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19

 

Chicago Artists Relief Fund

  • Fund created by Chicago-area artists intended to support area artists facing financial hardship due to Coronavirus related cancellations
  • Donate to the fund
  • Applications for assistance - temporarily suspended -  reach out to chicagoartistsrelief@gmail.com with questions

 

Goverment Assistance

Illinois Department of Employment Security

  • Apply for Unemployment Insurance

 

City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

  • Resources for Artists and Arts Organizations

 

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