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Letter, 8-20: Martha's Will
About that 'Work-for-Hire' Thing
A Letter from Christine
Dakin & Terese Capucilli
Artistic Directors, Martha Graham Dance Company
(Editor's Note: A
copy of the following letter, addressed to Martha Graham Center
executive director Marvin Preston IV, was obtained by the Dance
Insider following Wednesday's Appeals Court ruling
on Graham v. Graham. The headline is ours, not the authors'. The
letter has been edited for content.)
In the cold light of
day, after a night of stunned euphoria and grateful relief, inexpressible
thanks to Marvin and the lawyers and our staff, Annie, Nancy, and
everyone who participated in this legal defense. Also following
on the heels of a day spent hearing about our continuing financial
disaster and the Company's part in it: reasons the Co. is not being
booked as fast and frequently as desired, to become more profitable.....
There is agreement from
all sides that for this and many reasons, the face of the Company
needs to be always associated with its new management and artistic
direction. Every opportunity to do so should be taken.
One of the most recurring
and powerful spins (Ron) Protas puts on all of this fight is that
the faceless corporate board is stealing the artist's, Martha's,
work. He represents himself as protecting Martha and her work....
Protas has had success in promoting his story that we are using
legal technicalities to thwart Martha's wishes. The very words that
saved us, "work for hire," provoke a visceral reaction in people
who understand only the surface of what this is about, and add strength
to Protas's version. From our vantage point, we believe the emphasis
on the decision's importance should not be on "work for hire," but
on the specific implication, in first (the) case and (then) the
appeal, that Martha deliberately set up the Center and willingly
gave her dances to it, in return for advantages to her, to free
her to focus entirely on creating her art and to safeguard it for
the future. She did this to protect her art, (to) give it to artists
to care for, and we are the artists in whose hands it now lies.
It is very important that we advance understanding of our new life
as an organization, and counter the spin of Protas by taking the
opportunity to point out and always include the very significant
fact that for the first time, 12 years, since Martha's death, her
company is run by artists, who worked with her for her last decades.....
We are ecstatic about
this affirmation of our rights to the dances Martha created, and
inexpressibly grateful (for) the work of (Center lawyers) Katherine
Forrest and Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Working with Martha for so
many years, we knew her as an artistic genius, saw her create great
dances; but we also know that she took care to protect her art.
She made careful plans to give her work to the home she had created
for that purpose, the Center, Company and School. She knew that
the dancers who dance the work, the people concerned with producing
her art, were the ones who should care for it. Winning this legal
suit protects Martha's desires to house her art in the place she
created for that very purpose. We will honor her art and her desires
by keeping vital her great body of work.
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