We have an ambitious goal: no student majoring in an arts discipline at a St. Louis area university or college graduates without exposure to basic arts-related legal and business matters. By providing guest speakers, easy-to-understand guides and workshops in negotiation skills, we are helping students make the transition from the academic environment to their artistic careers.

Our teaching artists are available to speak to university and college classes throughout the bi-state metropolitan area. The artists discuss their experiences and careers, show samples of their work, provide a basic introduction to copyright, contracts and financial matters and describe our services. In addition to the artists seen below, we can send speakers to dance, theatre and creative writing classes. Our volunteer lawyers and accountants are available to address specific topics, such as copyright and taxes.

Students receive free copies of Upstart Essentials, highlights from our Copyright Basics, Anatomy of a Contract and Artist as Bookkeeper guides.

To book a free speaker, call (314) 863-6930 or contact us.


Visual Artists
CrosswebSukanya ManiSteenz Stewart, Upstart speaker
Andy Cross, Timothy J. HykesBen Kiel, Sukanya Mani, and Steenz Stewart


Dee Coleman, Gabe Mueller and Dawn Weber

Doveed LinderDan Parris, Upstart speaker
Doveed Linder and Dan Parris

Fashion Designer
Brandin Vaugh
Brandin Vaughn

Negotiation Skills
With practice, artists can learn how to communicate more effectively and strengthen important business relationships. Presented in an interactive style by actor Michelle Hand, our session covers negotiation styles; transforming adversarial interactions into problem-solving collaborations; and sharpening negotiation skills through role playing. Preview her dynamic presentation.




“VLAA and its Upstart initiative are a huge benefit to the St. Louis community. I can’t imagine not inviting them to my classes.”
Bill Barrett
Webster University