Megan Scott and Amara Edblad

Let’s end this ridiculously busy week with a Change of Venue that takes in some art—and lawyers’ part in it.

A warm Tuesday evening saw the second annual silent auction of Volunteer Legal Assistance for Artists. Food, drink and art—maybe some to take home—all combined for a great evening.

According to the organization:

“Volunteer Legal Assistance for Artists was started as a pro bono effort of ASU law students and Phoenix-area attorneys with the goal of providing legal education and referral services to both artists and those affiliated with artists.”

Volunteer Legal Assistance for Artists silent auction, photo courtesy Robert Lundberg

At Tuesday’s event, the hard work of law students continued. It was co-chaired by two women from the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Megan Scott is a 2L and this year’s president of VLAA. And Amara Edblad is a 3L and the immediate past president.

The organization is active in the community, they said, and collaborates with many partners, including the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Phoenix Art Museum.

(Megan was in the spirit of communication when she reminded me that ASU Law School’s Sports & Entertainment Law Journal—which she helped co-found—is being launched this month. And they’re doing it in grand style, by hosting a conference on October 30. More information, including a complete list of speakers, is here.)

“Black Lemon on Red #2,” by Bob Booker

Despite the lingering high temperatures, attendees enjoyed a nosh and some art. Donated work came from about 80 artists, and there were more than 100 pieces. (The event was held at the great restaurant Local Breeze.)

In fact, full disclosure requires that I admit I bid on a piece—and won it. Sitting in my office now is the striking “Black Lemon on Red #2,” by Bob Booker. The painting’s materials are described as “tar, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas,” making it my first official tar work. By coincidence, I happen to know Bob, who is the executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Thanks for donating such a beautiful piece, Bob!

The heavy lifting at the event is done by law students, but lawyers attended, too.

Steve Nebgen, attorney and producer

I spoke with Steve Nebgen, a Scottsdale entertainment lawyer and producer. He has volunteered with the group for a long time, and has offered sessions to artists on their rights and business practices. Some of the most common topics that arise, he said, are intellectual property, business formation and even securities issues. The last comes up when an artist tries to raise money for a project and inadvertently becomes a broker–dealer.

Nebgen himself has produced on Broadway, off Broadway and elsewhere. More information on one of his initiatives, ShowBizAZ, is here.

(For more photos of the event, go to the magazine’s Facebook page.)

* * *

Just a few days later, on Thursday, I had the chance to tour the rehabilitated space of the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix, when they opened the doors to the media.

The Theater’s newly renovated facility, which has been under construction since 2006, is set to reopen today, October 1, with a grand re-opening ceremony. And the celebration continues on Saturday, October 2.

The renovation came at least in part with resident contributions—$16.6 million in major renovations as a result of a voter-approved bond.

Thursday’s press conference opened with words from Richard Powers, President of the Theater Center, and then Mayor Phil Gordon. But the press had come to see the fancy new digs, and that’s what we got.

Mayor Phil Gordon

The renovations, we were told, were almost all done to improve the patron experience. “Everything that a patron sees, sits on or walks on is new.”

Striking changes include “Bob’s Spot Gallery Lounge and Balcony,” as well as a Donors’ Lounge, named for Bob Herberger, and “The Kax Stage,” the Center’s more intimate black-box theater, named for Katherine “Kax” Herberger. The storied couple provided the original $3 million challenge grant that helped secure the private-side financing.

Herberger Stage West Theater

Backstage, actors will be pleased at the refurbished dressing rooms and relaxation space.

The theater seating—of paramount importance to theater-goers—makes you want to settle in for a spell. In the smaller Stage West Theater, many of the seats have a donor’s name affixed. (I sat in the “Adam Bowers”—thanks, Adam).

All of that may be background to the amazing lighting newly installed in the lobby. The fixture suspended in the center is comprised of 168 individually cast glass spheres, each with an LED. Made by the Vancouver, Canada firm Bocci, it is sure to be featured in many patrons’ cell-phone gallery views.

Herberger Theater lighting by Bocci

Kudos to everyone involved, including all of the lawyers who sit on the Herberger Theater Center’s Board of Directors: Tim Berg (Chair), Fennemore Craig; Fred Beeson (Treasurer), of Salt River Project; Jennifer Dioguardi, of Snell & Wilmer; Jeffrey Guldner, of Arizona Public Service Co.; and Kenneth C. Sundlof, Jr., of Jennings Strouss & Salmon.

(For more photos of the new theater, go to the magazine’s Facebook page.)

Have a great weekend.

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