Gwen Hochman Stewart

Gwen Hochman Stewart is an associate in the IP Litigation group at Sidley Austin LLP.  Her practice focuses on patent litigation but also includes other complex litigation involving technology or other IP issues. Gwen attended Harvard Law School, where she served as Executive Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, and she clerked for the Hon. William Alsup at the U.S.

LCA Executive Director Jan Feldman Featured on WGN

Lawyers for the Creative Arts’ Executive Director Jan Feldman recently appeared on WGN’s Wintrust Business Lunch Hour with John Williams to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on the arts community. Williams and Feldman addressed some of the new concerns of artists, with Feldman noting that “since the virus hit it’s been a whole new panoply of issues, most of which don’t have as much to do with arts as basic survival.”

Acknowledging the uncertain prospects for many individuals in the arts community, Feldman added “The devastation that has been visited on the arts community as a result of this virus is obvious if you look at any boarded-up theater or music venue.” Even as the CARES Act continues to provide some financial relief for the arts community, Feldman emphasized the importance of addressing the needs of the arts community as organizations face the prospect of re-opening amid continuing uncertainty about attendance and audience comfort.

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..."


Resources compiled by First Floor Theater

Act Blue

Assata's Daughters

Black Lives Matter Chicago

Black Visions Collective

Brave Space Alliance

BYP 100

Campaign Zero

Chicago Community Bond Fund

Chicago Freedom School

Color of Change

Equal Justice Initiative

Higher Heights for America

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Reclaim the Block

Showing Up for Racial Justice

the conscious kid


Resources Compiled by Forefront

Champaign County Bailout Coalition


My Block, My Hood, My City



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.  

Q: How did you learn about Lawyers for the Creative Arts and what led you to apply to join the Associate Board?
A: I have known about the LCA since before law school.  I have been a professional artist for years and looked to the organization when I needed assistance. I joined the Associate Board in 2019 and have been a member for less than 1 year. 

What do you enjoy about being an Associate Board member? 
I enjoy the network that being a member provides, along with the range of educational opportunities that exist.

What types of LCA matters have you taken on?
I have done small copyright cases. 

What advice would you give to an attorney who is considering taking an LCA matter?
Be ready to educate your clients and have patience to deal with them should they not understand the concepts upon first explanation.

What has it been like working with our clients? How does the experience differ from your job at your firm?
In my firm, I work with mostly small business owners and artists so there has not been much difference in my experience. 

Do you have any personal background in the arts?"Royal Chicago" on exhibit at the Blackstone Hotel
I am a professional fiber artist and have had a piece of art displayed in the Blackstone Hotel in downtown Chicago (pictured at right).

Do you participate in or follow the arts here in Chicago?
Absolutely. I love all mediums of arts and try to go on art tours monthly with my husband. The range and vibrancy of the art scene always surprises me when I compare it to other metro areas. 

How does LCA support the arts in Chicago and why do you think this work is so vital to the arts?
Being able to provide artist and artisans with the support they need to keep creating is what makes Chicago the exciting place it is. 

Finally, which tv-show/movie/song/book have you recently finished that you would recommend? 
I just finished binge watching “Airplane Repo” and thoroughly enjoyed the series. 

Thank you to Florence for taking the time to answer our questions! Follow us on social media for future Featured Members from our Associate Board.



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. 

Q: Many of our interns come to us with unique backgrounds in the arts. Do you have any personal background in the arts?
A: I am originally from Detroit, MI, and I grew up playing classical piano.  Last summer, I learned how to use Ableton, a digital audio workstation. Since then, I’ve been making some electronic beats in my spare time.  I’ve always had a passion for music and one of my favorite things to do is attend music concerts. Some of my favorite concerts I’ve been to have been Eminem & Jay-z, Flume, and Bassnectar.  Naturally, my interests in copyright law and the music industry grew out of my passion for music and LCA was a great way to get the arts back into my life.

How did you hear about LCA?
I heard about LCA during my 2L year in law school after taking entertainment law.  I learned more about it when I took a music transactions class and my professor talked about how LCA was a great way to get into the art community in Chicago.  Being from Detroit, LCA has been a great way to make new friends in Chicago. 

What did you expect? Did anything here surprise you?
I expected to do a bit of research in entertainment law but I never expected to directly interact with so many different artists. I’ve talked to actresses, non-profits, authors, graphic designers, and inventors.  I was able to help out a number of musicians which was what I wanted to do most.  But I didn’t expect to talk to so many.  There are so many artists that need legal help and it was very enjoyable for me to help get them legal aid.  LCA’s clients are also extremely appreciative which made it more enjoyable.  

How has your experience at LCA connected with what you’ve been learning in law school?
Having an engineering background, I started law school with intentions to practice patent.  I never had a chance to take trademarks or copyright, but LCA allowed me to gain experience in both those areas–mainly from clients but also from researching law in the arts.  

A lot of LCA’s clients, don’t just have IP issues.  A lot of contract law and business law issues arise too. Speaking directly with clients allowed me to apply a lot of what I learned in my law school classes to help the artists get the help they need.

Do you have any favorite moments or projects from your time with us? 
Getting to see and meet the Sklar brothers with Jan our Executive Director. They were hilarious.  I also miss our lunches with the team before the pandemic started.  

What’s next for you? Has your time at LCA helped you to narrow your options?
I am hoping to start off my career in IP litigation or transactional practice.  LCA has actually widened my scope as I would love to practice all IP areas.  Eventually, I’m hoping to practice in the technology, sports, and entertainment industries.  I’ve always wanted to start my own firm in those areas, so we’ll see where my career takes me. It’ll definitely be somewhere in Intellectual Property, if not most of it.

Do you plan to volunteer with LCA once you have your degree?
For sure! I plan on joining on as an Associate Board member and using my law degree to help some future LCA clients. 

What value does an organization like LCA add to the arts community?
LCA provides a ton to the arts community besides helping artists find legal help.  LCA does a fantastic job of educating the community by holding legal workshops and creating online legal resources for artists.  As an intern, I helped do some research for these.  Beyond the arts community, LCA does a great job at helping others set up non-profits in the community. It’s almost like an LCA is an incubator for non-profits.    

What's a fun fact about you? 
I’m a first-generation Chaldean-American.  Both my parents are Catholic-Iraqi immigrants and we speak Aramaic at home, which is one of the oldest languages in the world.

Which tv-show/movie/song/book have you recently finished that you would recommend?
I recently finished the book Creative Quest by DJ Questlove from the Roots.  I highly recommend it and it’s an easy read.  He talks about his career and what made him successful from an arts perspective.  He also discusses his process for actually creating art whether it is music, painting, or culinary arts.  I found a lot of his recommendations to be insightful and actually very applicable to other areas, even law. 




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.

How did you learn about Lawyers for the Creative Arts and what led you to apply to join the Associate Board?
I first learned about Lawyers for the Creative Arts over coffee with former LCA President, Andy Goldstein. Andy told me about the amazing work LCA provides to the Chicago creative community, and how young lawyers can get involved to help these artists. Within a few days, I applied to become a volunteer attorney, and soon thereafter, had my first case assignment. I am one of the founding members of the Associate Board, so I have been involved since the very beginning. 

What’s your favorite LCA memory? 
Having the opportunity to present the Distinguished Service Honoree award to our client, Josephine Lee and the Chicago Children’s Choir, during the LCA benefit luncheon in 2018. 

What do you enjoy about being an Associate Board member? 
I most enjoy the community the Associate Board has created and fosters for our volunteer lawyers.  In doing so, the Associate Board provided me with an opportunity to form lifelong friendships with some of the most passionate entertainment attorneys in Chicago.

Which LCA or Associate Board events have you participated in?
My primary contribution to the Associate Board has come in the form of educational programming.  I co-chaired the Associate Board’s education sub-committee with Jessica Bahr for several years, during which time we organized some very exciting CLE events in collaboration with the Goodman Theatre, The Music Garage, Tribeca Flashpoint, Leo Burnett and the Steve Harvey Show (thanks to our good friend, Jed Enlow). More recently, I helped LCA collaborate with our friends at the Recording Academy and 2112 to organize educational programming concerning the Music Modernization Act, new legislation that will significantly impact how our music community is compensated for their work. I am extremely proud of these presentations, and the opportunities they have provided to both our volunteer attorneys and artists to enhance their understanding of complicated legal issues impacting their business. 

What types of LCA matters have you taken on?
I vividly recall my first LCA matter ever.  I represented a gentlemen who was in a dispute with his uncle over who owned the rights to his mother’s publishing catalogue.  She was a songwriter that had recently passed away, and her family could not agree on how to handle the administration of her music.  I stepped in to resolve the dispute on behalf of my client, and was excited to help him do so in a manner that allowed him to start collecting much-needed income while also repairing his relationship with his uncle.  

Since that time, I have taken on many film and music-related matters, including, for example: assisting producers in claiming their rights to royalties, extricating artists from toxic management agreements, cleaning up the catalogues of legacy artists, addressing disputes among band members and helping clear rights for filmmakers.  I have also worked hard to strengthen the relationship between LCA and our firm, and in doing so, have expanded our volunteer team to several attorneys who take on matters in film, music, television and literary fields.   

What advice would you give to an attorney who is considering taking an LCA matter?
Don’t bite off more than you can chew, especially with your first matter. LCA has an amazing network of lawyers, and excellent educational resources, to help guide you through the process. So feel free to reach out for help to assure that you are providing your client with top-notch legal services. 

Do you have any personal background in the arts?
In high school, I was in all the plays and musicals, as well as show choir. I also played a decent guitar and piano. While I would have loved to make a living as an actor, I was too risk averse to take a run at “making it” as an artist. Thus, when I saw the opportunity to work with the creative arts community from a lawyer’s perspective, I was thrilled to merge my love of the arts with my chosen career path. 

Do you participate in or follow the arts here in Chicago?
I closely follow what our local artists are up to here in Chicago.  From the local theatre scene to intimate music rooms, there is amazing art being created that needs to be recognized. I also love walking the city and taking in the astonishing creations by our local muralists. Some of the most beautiful art in Chicago can be found on the sides of its buildings and in its alleys.

What about the arts in Chicago strikes you as unique?
The resilience of our artists is second to none. 

How does LCA support the arts in Chicago and why do you think this work is so vital to the arts?
Obviously the amazing network of volunteer attorneys that LCA provides to the Chicago arts community is vital to the success of our creatives.  Access to legal services is essential, but so many artists starting out in the business simply cannot afford it. This, of course, places these artists in a position to be taken advantage of by third-parties that swoop to take ownership or control over their creations. Thus, by the time an artist finally reaches the stage of his or her career where he or she can afford a lawyer, it’s too late. LCA provides artists with the support they need to make sure they are not building their business on a house of cards.

You have recently been quite active in building awareness of the difficulties that the arts community is facing during COVID-19 on social media. How did you get involved in these efforts?
Many clients started reaching out soon after state governments started implementing orders that restricted (and in some cases, entirely prohibited) live performances from taking place. Once South by Southwest was cancelled and Coachella rescheduled, there was a rush of concern as to what was going to happen with respect to the live music industry over the coming months. Thus, we spent a considerable amount of time working through force majeure clauses in our client contracts and working with various interested parties to reach commonsense resolutions that address both sides’ concerns without focusing too heavily on what the contract required. I then started focusing on identifying other opportunities available to artists to help them offset some of the losses they were experiencing due to the pandemic, and to create opportunities that would not have existed but for the pandemic.  For example, as a member of the Board of Directors for the Recording Academy, I know how essential the MusicCares program is to so many artists around the country, but also realized pretty quickly after the onset of COVID-19, there are many artists who had no idea that MusicCares even existed. Thus, I reached out to as many artists as I could to let them know that, through MusicCares, the Recording Academy created a relief fund designed to quickly send financial support to artists who lost income due to COVID-19.  

A few weeks ago, I created a weekly concert series called “Concerts from My Couch,” where we invite artists to perform in a closed “digital venue” comprised of audiences from around the world (who, of course, are all joining us from the comfort of their living room).  We have been able to raise thousands of dollars for these artists, and have provided a much needed break from the monotony for our audience. It is extremely gratifying to see so many people coming together during a time when we are supposed to be staying apart.

Finally, which tv-show/movie/song/book have you recently finished that you would recommend? 
On the literary side, I just finished (and really enjoyed) “They Call Me Supermensch,” the autobiography of legendary manager, Shep Gordon.  He is a monster of a figure in the music industry, and some of the lessons pulled from that book are amazing. On the television side, I am about halfway through this season of “Ozark” and cannot wait to see where this story goes.  I also recently finished “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” which is one of the most effective shows I have ever seen at addressing stigmas around issues of mental health, all while paying homage to around 100 different Broadway shows. 

Thank you to Jeff for taking the time to answer our questions! Visit Jeff's profile at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLC to learn more about his remarkable career and continue to check social media and this website for future Featured Members from our Associate Board.

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.


So, what do you recommend?

It is possible that Congress or the federal Department of Labor will address this issue through amendment or waivers. In the meantime, we recommend that you apply for benefits through IDES, include all your sources of work-related income, including 1099 work. You should receive benefits based on your W-2 work, as well as the additional $600 in weekly benefits provided by the CARES Act. You should then file an appeal with IDES within 30 days of the benefit determination, arguing that you're entitled to additional benefits based on your 1099 work. Two of our fellow Chicago legal services organizations, CARPLS and Legal Aid Chicago, can assist you with the appeals process.


What unemployment benefits are available to Sole Proprietors, Independent Contractors, and Freelancers?

PUA provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to workers, including SPs, ICs and freelancers that were not previously eligible for unemployment benefits. Benefit payments under PUA are retroactive, providing benefits for weeks of unemployment, partial employment, or inability to work due to COVID-19 reasons starting on or after January 27, 2020, and continuing until December 31, 2020.

The calculation of benefits requires a calculation of the weekly base benefit by reference to the two highest pay quarters during the four quarters preceding the application. The earnings during those two highest quarters are added together, and the sum is multiplied by 47%. Finally, that product is divided by 26 to yield a weekly payment.

To take an example, Worker A earned $13,000 (Q1), $12,000 (Q2), $11,000 (Q3), and $13,000 (Q4) during the four quarters before filing for unemployment benefits. The two highest quarters are Q1 and Q4, during which Worker A brought home $13,000 (approximately $1,000 per week), and so they are used to calculate the base benefit, using this calculation:

  • Add Q1 earnings + Q4 earnings: $13,000 +$13,000 = $26,000.  
  • Next: 47% x $26,000 = $12,220
  • Finally, $12,220 ÷ 26 = $470

Worker A would be entitled to the weekly base benefit of $470.

The maximum weekly base benefits are as follows: $484 for individuals, $577 for an individual with a spouse they support, and $669 for an individual and child.


I’m a Sole Proprietor, Independent Contractor, or Freelancer. Am I eligible for an SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan?

Yes.  The CARES ACT states that SPs, ICs and freelancers are eligible for PPP loans, so long as they certify that the loan is needed to pay workers during the COVID-19 crisis. The Small Business Administration has issued various clarifying comments as SBA lending banks seek to implement the statute through their loan application portals.

Applicants for PPP loans need to document their payroll history to calculate an average weekly payroll during specified periods. In the case of SPs, ICs and freelancers seeking benefits based on the loss of their own income, the application must document payments to yourself for work you performed. Form 1099s can substantiate your payment history. Without that documentation, you may need to show your business income, less business expenses, from your personal tax returns. In any case, you’ll need to work with your SBA lender bank for more guidance, at least until the SBA provides specific procedures that apply to SPs, ICs and freelancers.


What loan amount is available to Sole Proprietors, Independent Contractors, and Freelancers through the SBA Paycheck Protection Program?

The PPP program looks at the history of payments to your workers during various periods specified under the CARES Act.  Typically, for businesses with a substantial history of payroll, the relevant period is the calendar year 2019. For businesses (such as seasonal businesses) without a standard 2019 payroll, the SBA has specified alternative timeframes that can be used to calculate average weekly payroll (See Answer to Question 14 on the SBA’s PPP FAQ)The amount of the PPP loan is determined by calculating the average monthly payroll during the relevant period. Payments to workers exceeding $100,000 have to be excluded from the calculation of average monthly payroll, as do other payments under federal employment laws, although state unemployment taxes can be included.

The PPP permits loans up to 2.5x the average monthly payroll during the relevant period. The maximum loan amount is $10 million.


Are SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans forgivable?

Yes. The PPP loans are intended to keep workers employed. Therefore, the SBA will forgive the loan if the employer:

  • Expends the funds over the covered period of 24 weeks;
  • Maintains levels of compensation; and
  • Uses at least 60 percent of the loan for payroll. Up to 40% of the loan may be used for rent, utilities, or mortgage interest.

The amount forgiven will be reduced if the employer:

  • Reduces full-time employee headcount;
  • Decreases salaries and wages (under $100,000) by over 25%.

Employers can regain forgiveness eligibility if they restore their full-time employment and salary/wage levels before December 31, 2020.


What are the terms of the SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans?

If it is not forgiven, the loan must be paid back over two years (five years for loans obtained on or after June 4, 2020) at an interest rate of 1.0 percent. Loan payments are deferred until the amount of forgiveness is established.

No collateral or personal guarantees are required to receive a PPP loan. Neither the government nor lenders will charge applicants any fees.

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

Paycheck Protection Program

Short-Term Estate Planning: Powers of Attorney - Health Care and Property

  • Information on estate planning in a pandemic - specific coverage of the two statutory powers of attorney.

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


  • 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 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


U.S. Small Business Administration

  • Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Declarations


National Endowment for the Arts

  • News and Resources for Artists and Arts Organizations


Area/Industry COVID-19 Impact Surveys

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Arts Alliance Illinois

Americans for the Arts

Association of Performing Arts Professionals

Dance USA

Theatre Communications Group


Public Health Resources


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Specific updates on nature, extent, risks, and treatment of Coronavirus
  • Establishing Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan


Illinois Department of Public Health


Chicago Department of Public Health

  • Specific guidance for Event Organizers, Community-based Organizations, Businesses and Employers, and others.




Zahra Zavari is one of three LCA interns this semester. Zahra is currently a 3L at Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Before LCA, Zahra served as a student attorney at the Children’s Legal Center and as a Law Clerk at Meltzer Hellrung. At Chicago-Kent Zahra was also an Entrepreneurship Research Assistant with supervising attorney Heather Harper. Zahra also currently serves as a legal extern with Saper Law.

Many of our interns come to us with unique backgrounds in the arts. Do you have any personal background in the arts?
I played violin as a child and have always loved clay sculpture and glass art. As I got older, I grew interested in fashion and its intersection with the law. It’s a very interesting area that comprises of various types of intellectual property including copyright, trademark, and design patents. I also find the entrepreneurial aspect of building a brand incredibly interesting from a legal standpoint.

How did you hear about LCA?
I was looking for opportunities in the arts in the Chicago area. I actually learned about LCA from Thomas Key (a former intern) and later talked to one of my professors about getting involved in the arts community. Both strongly encouraged me to pursue an opportunity at LCA.

What did you expect? Did anything here surprise you?
What’s most surprising is the scope of the work and number of matters that we accept. I expected there to be artists and musicians, but so many of our clients are documentary filmmakers or people who are working on forming a nonprofit. It’s been wonderful to see how much business can intersect with the arts, which happens to be a major interest of mine.

How has your experience at LCA connected with what you’ve been learning in law school?
There has been the most overlap in trademark and copyright. I’m also finding some parallels with the work I’ve been doing at Saper Law this term. The work here is slightly different; at Saper Law I draft contracts and motions, whereas here, I have the opportunity to speak directly with the clients to understand and identify their issues. Working at both LCA and Saper Law simultaneously, I’ve had a chance to see both sides of the process.

Do you have any favorite moments or projects from your time with us? 
It has been really interesting learning more about the needs of the arts community in Chicago. Some of my favorite projects have been working with documentary film makers and entrepreneurs of all kinds to get their ideas in motion. Intakes have allowed me to learn so much about the growing stages of artists.

I also really loved the lunches we shared as a team. Towards the beginning of my time here we managed to get all of the interns and staff together for a lunch. It was a great opportunity to talk about what to expect in this internship and in the legal world generally.

Everyone on staff is incredibly kind and encouraging. I’ve learned a great deal from the research projects I have been assigned and I love that much of our work is very hands on.  Not all legal institutions have those opportunities.

What’s next for you? Has your time at LCA helped you to narrow your options?
I’m hoping to work in Intellectual Property, especially as it relates to fashion or entertainment. In general, I think my work here at LCA led me to explore other areas that I’m now even more interested in. Initially, I was mostly focused on fashion; I had thought about film and music, but now I think about these areas so much more.

Most people don’t realize how much Arts law integrates so many of these different areas of law. You mostly hear about the copyright and trademark issues, but there are so many areas that all intersect. It’s important to think of Arts law in this more holistic way than as just an area dominated by Intellectual Property.

Do you plan to volunteer with LCA once you have your degree?
Yes, definitely! And even if I don’t end up in Chicago, then I’ll probably look into volunteering with a local VLA wherever I end up.

What value does an organization like LCA add to the arts community?
Besides providing legal services, I think organizations like LCA are important because they expose the fact that so many smaller artists are being exploited by larger organizations. We have to do everything we can to minimize this exploitation and raise awareness. I don’t think most people see the arts as an area where people are particularly vulnerable to such abuses and oppression, but it is a huge issue. LCA and organizations alike are essential components to protecting the rights of artists.   

What's a fun fact about you? 
I’m from Singapore! My mom and I moved to Chicago when I was 8 years old. It has been a pretty big culture shift growing up here. Many of my aunts and uncles are attorneys in Singapore and they have definitely played a role in my interests in the law. 

Which tv-show/movie/song/book have you recently finished that you would recommend?
I have always been obsessed with crime TV shows. Some of my favorites include Broachchurch, Seven Seconds, and Law & Order. More recently I’ve been hooked on Safe and The Fall.

Thank you for telling us more about yourself! Do you have anything else that you want to add?
I’ve really enjoyed working here and I truly appreciate the immense value LCA contributes to artists all over Chicago.