Oregon Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts

In Defense of Art

In Defense of Art is the official blog of Oregon Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts

March 2017 Newsletter


OVLA made huge strides in 2016 (check out the December newsletter for highlights) under the leadership of our awesome first Executive Director Pollyanne Birge. Unfortunately for OVLA, Pollyanne’s awesomeness was noticed by others, including newly-elected Portland Councilwoman Chloe Eudaly. As Pollyanne leaves us to join the Eudaly team in City Hall, we wish her well, knowing that she will stay connected to OVLA by joining our Board of Directors.

In February the OVLA board hired Howie Bierbaum as its new Executive Director. Howie has an extensive background in both the for-profit and non-profit arts and entertainment world. Prior to joining OVLA he was tour manager (and lighting designer) for the Portland-based band Pink Martini, touring the U.S. and the world. He was also the co-founder and general manager of the Wonder Ballroom in northeast Portland and Executive Director of several local arts groups including Third Angle New Music Ensemble, the Portland Symphonic Choir and Do Jump /Echo Theatre (where OVLA’s predecessor, NW Lawyers for the Arts came to the rescue when the theatre had easement issues with its neighbor). Howie has served as a grants panelist for the Regional Arts and Culture Council, the Oregon Arts Commission and the Oregon Community Foundation. He also works with singer Storm Large and consults with performing artists and arts groups.

Howie is thrilled to be working with such smart and dedicated volunteers and hopes to increase OVLA’s activities and profile in the metro area and throughout the state. He can be reached at howie@oregonvla.org



We sat down recently with OVLA board member Bryan Wasetis to discuss his work with OVLA.

Tell us about yourself and what brought you to Portland. 
I'm a Portland based attorney that works specifically with the creative community. I co-founded Aspect Law Group and specialize in business and intellectual property law, and am also an avid supporter of community-based activities and the arts and culture scene. I've lived in Portland for around seven years now and am originally from Texas, which I left to attend Lewis & Clark Law School (and escape the heat).

How did you get involved with OVLA? 
The organization was going through a growth phase around the time that I graduated from law school and was looking for attorneys to volunteer time for its clinic program. I don't recall the details on who contacted who, but I was very intrigued by OVLA's mission and said I would help out however I could. I'm now in my third year of volunteering time to the organization and recently joined the board of directors.

What do you bring to OVLA and what do you get from being involved with OVLA? 
I like working with OVLA because it has a great mission and the people behind it truly care about providing excellent services to an under served population. OVLA provides a platform for people, including myself, to give back to the artistic community and help arts and culture thrive in Oregon. 
I think my perspective is helpful for OVLA. I'm a small business owner and can relate to the challenges that artists face as entrepreneurs. I also spent several years providing pro bono services to artists through the OVLA before being asked to join the board, so a lot of my experience with OVLA has been directly with the community that it serves.

What are the biggest challenges for local artists and arts organizations in Oregon and how do you think OVLA can help? 
I think funding and availability of affordable studio spaces are and will continue to be large challenges for the arts community. My hope is that OVLA can offset some of the negative effects these issues bring by continuing its outreach, education, and expansion of its clinic program to provide as much help as it can. We have a great arts community in Oregon, and I'm proud to be a part of an organization that strives to protect and promote it.



If you need legal help, apply to get matched with one of our volunteer attorneys through our legal clinic. If driving to our clinic in Portland is difficult for you, we can also offer consultations by phone. Sessions are by appointment and based on household/organization income.

Applications are due two weeks prior to the desired clinic date. Click here for more information and to apply.

Upcoming legal clinic dates are as follows:

April 14th

May 12th


This Regional Arts + Culture Council will present the workshop, "THE BIG PICTURE: The Everyday Experience Of Braving Your Own Creative Business" on March 25.

In this workshop we will discuss and breakdown the key elements of a creative business model through interactive activity, writing exercises and group discussion. How does your current operation fit into a successful business model? In short, we thoroughly cover the basics of running a business so you can get your bearings and start off on your journey with more focus, intention, and confidence to build a successful business.

Saturday, March 25, 2017, 1:00 pm – 4:30pm 
Inside the Hub Building: Klum House Workshop, 3808 N. Williams Ave., #132, Portland, OR 97227




We are once again thrilled to have the support of Kay Kitagawa and Andy Johnson-Laird. We thank them for their generous gift at the Patron Level.

We asked Mr. Johnson-Laird why they support the work of OVLA.

"While we are not lawyers," he said, "we owe our success as forensic software analysts to the Law and the lawyers with whom we've worked for the past 30 years. We also have a very strong sense of the contribution that artists make to our society. We do not know who first said that art is what makes us human, but we firmly subscribe to that belief.

Just as we came to understand computers and intellectual property law, we also understand that artists need help to navigate the shoals of intellectual property law to protect themselves and their art -- and that is where the OVLA and law professors like Lydia Loren (OVLA's board chair) shine by being there for artists who need that help."

Patrons ($5,000+) 
Kay Kitagawa and Andy Johnson-Laird
The Oregon Community Foundation 
The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation

Sponsors ($1,000-$4,999) 
Immix Law Group 
Oregon State Bar, Intellectual Property Section 
The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation 
Oregon Arts Commission (OAC) 
Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC)