MINI PENNY: The Highball Halloween Resolution

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Highball Halloween Resolution

Readers: I think that my heart was feeling quite overwhelmed yesterday when I returned home and saw the explosion of support via Twitter, Facebook, and comments. Many of you shared my post about Highball Halloween's unauthorized usage of my image with the community and I'm beyond grateful.

When writing the article, I felt a bit like David fighting Goliath. Would the folks at Short North Arts District hear my voice? With all of you, they did, and John Angelo contacted me yesterday in hopes to resolve the distress caused by my discovery on Friday.

Of course, this issue doesn't only concern me. It's not only about Highball. It's about all of us — the artists, the organizers, and the community. Yesterday proved to me that when we band together, good things happen. The process by which Highball filed and used images is now forever changed so that this will never again happen to another artist.

I met with John last night in person to discuss that matter and properly sell him the rights to use my photograph in their web and print advertising. This means that you will continue to see the ad during the next three weeks in Columbus — so if you get a mailer or see a flyer, don't fret, as the usage rights have been mended.

John also expressed his desire to share his voice on the issue with my readers and the community and asked for me to share the following letter with you:
Dear Jess,

I want to start by saying that I am very sorry for the issues related to the use of your photo in HighBall’s promotional campaign. I am completely at fault for having missed the credit of your image. We must make 100% sure we always recognize the sources of our materials. I will also take the blame for the confusion regarding which of your images we were authorized to use and which we were not. Though I am not sure how your Dead-Circus image came to be in our collection of authorized Jessie Barber images, the issue is that our system needs to be tightened to make sure such an incident does not happen again.

We value the contribution of all our artists: Fashion Designers, Costume Designers, Makeup Artists, Photographers, Visual Artists and Performing Artists. As a fundraiser to help further the initiatives of the Short North Arts District, it is at the core of HighBall’s mission to serve as a vibrant forum to expose the innovators and creators of Columbus and to celebrate their contributions to the city’s quality of life. For this reason we bestow many stipends to help the artists bring their visions to reality, and we give special preference to our photographers at the event by reserving space with the best views and by granting access to behind the scenes subject matter.

Thank you for working with me to resolve this issue.


John Angelo
I left my meeting with John last night feeling accomplished. This was a victory for everyone involved — and I started a small fire that you all helped fan. In less than 24 hours we had the attention and the ability to change something that will continue to help artists here in Columbus.

Again, I couldn't have done this without all of you. And I may only have three weeks left as being a Columbus resident, but I can assure you that this is probably one of the best goodbyes I could have asked for — proof that I have the support of my peers and that I've spent the past six years in a truly amazing community. Thank you, Columbus. You'll always have a special place in my heart.

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