We help the creative community navigate the complicated world of finance and law.
VLAA’s mission is to support the creative community by providing free legal and accounting assistance and a wide variety of affordable educational programs. We serve artists of every discipline and career level, nonprofit cultural organizations and small creative businesses. Our organization enhances the region’s cultural fabric and offers rewarding volunteer opportunities.
We envision a thriving creative community that understands its legal rights and responsibilities and the importance of sound business practices and where success is not dependent on the ability to pay for quality legal and accounting services or related educational programs.
St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA) recognizes the historic and systemic marginalization of people by race, ethnicity, immigration status, religion, age, geography, ability, sexual orientation and/or gender and gender-identity. We are committed to championing policies and practices that value diversity, foster equity, promote inclusion and improve accessibility in all our activities and operations. We pledge to listen with humility, act more intentionally, hold ourselves accountable, encourage open and ongoing dialogue, stand in solidarity with our colleagues and lead by example because the bi-state region should be a place where historically marginalized artists, cultural workers, creative businesses and arts organizations can thrive.
St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts was co-founded in 1982 by the City’s St. Louis Arts and Humanities Commission (now the Regional Arts Commission), St. Louis University School of Law, and a small board of directors. Accountants were added in 1984. Only three organizations in our national network include CPAs.
Beginning in 1986, we were grateful to be housed with the Regional Arts Commission in the Central West End, in Grand Center and then on Delmar. In 2019, we moved to the High Low, The Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s literary arts venue in the Grand Center arts district. The building includes office suites, our library, a coffee shop, an event space and a gallery.
With the arrival of the pandemic, we launched Briefly Stated, a free and well-received weekly e-blast, which keeps the creative community up-to-date on sector news, grants, job openings and professional development opportunities.
We were the proud recipients of a 2005 Missouri Arts Award, created by Jeff Johnson.
Who We Serve
We embrace a broad and inclusive definition of art that encompasses the visual, literary, media, design, performing arts, makers and artisans, as well as community-based arts practices and emerging creative fields. Our clients include individual artists, cultural workers, collectives, small creative businesses and nonprofits. Clients must demonstrate financial need in order to receive pro bono legal or accounting services. Our educational programs and other resources are open to everyone.
Our primary service area is greater St. Louis, which includes St. Louis City, St. Charles, St. Louis, Franklin and Jefferson counties in Missouri and Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties in Illinois. We also serve eastern Missouri, including Boone County, and other counties in Southwest Illinois.
Our 300 dedicated volunteers annually provide more than $350,000 in free professional services. Without their assistance many important legal and accounting problems would go unresolved. Our educational programs help our creative community avoid legal and accounting problems, grow their creative practices and strengthen nonprofit organizations.
- We promote freedom of artistic expression and oppose censorship. When controversy occurs, we encourage and facilitate civil discourse.
- We believe that government has a responsibility to fund the arts and to ensure that the creative economy is explicitly included in policymaking.
- We are committed to making our services and programs responsive to the changing needs of our creative community.
- We champion diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in our work and in the greater community.
- We are client-friendly, respectful, act with integrity and hold ourselves accountable to one another, our supporters and our constituents.
- We never underestimate the power of voluntarism and are ever grateful to the lawyers and accountants who are essential to everything we do.
- We embrace thoughtful risk-taking are we’re willing to pivot when new opportunities and challenges emerge.
- We strive to be a reliable partner and to build relationships that increase the reach and effectiveness of our work.
VLAA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization generously supported by law and accounting firms, corporations, government funding agencies, foundations and individuals.
Photo Credit: High Low artwork by Javyn Solomon inspired by his ongoing series, Loutopia. The poem text was inspired by “This Poem” by Shirley Brady LeFlore.