Making It Legal-Entertainment and Arts Collaborative of Northeast Florida

For a new artist with an eye on the prize, the anticipation of success can cause tunnel vision when it comes to the fine print, leaving them blind to the harsh inequities of the entertainment business. Local entertainment attorney Carolyn Herman hopes to shed some light into the darker corners of the industry with a new endeavor that will offer legal and business services to the region’s artistic community. Herman announced her plans to launch the Entertainment and Arts Collaborative of Northeast Florida, Inc., last month at a press event for the 24th annual George’s Music Springing the Blues Festival. The not-for-profit organization will provide critical resources on a free or subsidized basis as well as other networking opportunities for Jacksonville artists in every medium. “As far as Florida goes, there really aren’t a lot of services in our area,” she says. “Most large cities have an arts and business council. But in Florida, there are no services available between Miami and Atlanta. Our leaders want to make our city into a dedicated entertainment Mecca so this will serve as a great area for it.” Sam Veal, executive director and founder of Springing the Blues, says the festival foundation will contribute a matching grant, up to $5,000, as seed money to help get the initiative off the ground. “It is an exciting new venture that is going to be headquartered here in Jacksonville Beach. This is in keeping with our Blues in the School program and the education of young people, so we will match dollar for dollar to get this endeavor up and going. So dig deep, y’all,” Veal says. “Who knows? Maybe one of them will become the next Susan Tedeschi or the next Jonny Lang? When they move from being a student to becoming a performer, there are a lot of real life issues that they have to face, and there are not a lot of resources out there for new, up and coming artists.” As an entertainment attorney and former professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law, Herman says she has witnessed the same story replayed a thousand times over in her Jacksonville Beach office. Inexperienced artists can encounter insurmountable challenges after signing shady contracts that they can’t break or releasing original material without the proper copyright in place to protect their intellectual property. “These artists get a contract, and they are so excited because someone thinks they’ve got talent that looking over a contract isn’t even on their radar,” she says. “I would like to offer more advocacy for those artists that are just starting out in the arts world. I’ve had young people come into my office and say ‘Ms. Carolyn, this is my ticket.’ I feel it is incumbent upon us to see that they have services available when that ticket is punched,” Herman continues. While the Entertainment and Arts Collaborative of Northeast Florida is still in the embryonic stages, Herman says she hopes to have “all of our ducks in a row” before the year is out. She is grateful to Springing the Blues for the contribution and hopes that the city’s creative community will pool their collective resources to help fund the project. It will take time, she knows, but Herman doesn’t want to rely on anonymous crowd-funding donations. She is happy to wait for those with a vested interest in the initiative to step up and invest in their own future.

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