by Yangxingyue (Rita) Wang
Research Center for Arts & Culture director Joan Jeffri was quoted in the Times on estate planning for artists:
As for Prince, it’s hard to know why he never wrote even a will, if not a full estate plan, given his wealth. But dying without a plan made him an outlier even among performing artists. Joan Jeffri, the director and founder of the Research Center for Arts and Culture at the Actors Fund, said in surveys of older performing artists, 92 percent had at least a will.
“Estate planning helps artists shape their own legacy,” Ms. Jeffri said. “If you’re putting down your wishes, you’re helping to shape that legacy.”
It was beginning to rain as I stepped into the lobby of the Westbeth Artist apartments in Greenwich Village where three students were helping photographer Arlene Gottfried organize 40 years of photographs. There were four closets full of photographs in boxes, plus additional storage cabinets.
Gottfried’s work had been stored haphazardly — edgy photographs of the 1970s and ’80s New York City club scene were mixed in with photographs she had shot for a Life magazine story on welfare hotels. Her photos have appeared in all sorts of places: her own books, including Sometimes Overwhelming and Mommie; in the pages of The New York Times Magazine and many other publications and in exhibits in Tokyo, Paris and Washington, D.C. The prospect of cataloging it all was daunting, to say the least.
“I open the door and close it again,” Gottfried says of her solo attempts at this task. But now she’s getting help from Art Cart, an organization that pairs working artists over 62 with students earning degrees in museum/arts administration or occupational therapy to help them catalog their work. Founded by Joan Jeffri, Art Cart chooses 10 visual artists a year; those lucky ones get some much-valued help from some equally lucky students.
ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY will be featured in the 2015 Cape May Film Festival:
Cape May 2015 Film Festival
November 13-15, 2015
West Cape May Borough Hall and Firemen’s Banquet Hall
West Cape May, NJ
The legacy of aging artists is saved in a project emanating from New York City.
IF THERE’S ONE THING we know about aging artists, it’s this: Tey’re adaptable, and far from stuck—in their ways or in their styles. Joan Jefri, the director of the Research Center for Arts and Culture at THE LEGACY FUND at the Actors Fund did feld research and more than 200 interviews to collect information from senior artists in the New York area. They’re collected in the report Above Ground: Information on Artists III: Special Focus New York City Aging Artists.
New York, NY. September 10, 2015 – As retirement gets reevaluated, and baby boomers search for engagement, older artists are models of lifelong learning, resilience and passion about their work. In a society that exalts reality shows on hoarders, and entices people to bring the junk from their basement to find it appraised at thousands of dollars, it’s difficult to know what to preserve. Vital works of art, and the creative histories that comprise an important component of American cultural heritage, are imperiled by the lack of a functional, sustainable model for documentation and preservation. Artists (who don’t retire) are participating for the third time in an inter-generational project that teaches them to document their work, learn new technology, and engage in a life review.
ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY jury-selected and matched 10 artists in NYC and 10 in Washington DC ranging in age from 62 to 89 with advanced students in the arts, health and aging to organize, label and document their work. Their records are then archived at Columbia University’s open source archive, Academic Commons, as “The Art Cart Collection.”
The artists are: (NYC) Zigi Ben-Haim, Terry Berkowitz, Amaranth Ehrenhalt, Harriet FeBland, Arlene Gottfried, Barbara Hammer, Morton Kaish, Mary Miss, Marilyn Schwartz, and Adele Shtern; (DC) Alonzo Davis, Cheryl Edwards, Annette Fortt, Cianne Fragione, Barbara Frank, Pauline Jakobsberg, James Landry, E.J. Montgomery, Annette Polan, and Terry Svat.
Created by the Research Center for Arts and Culture as part of THE LEGACY PROJECT at The Actors Fund, the two-site nine-month project features artists whose media include film, video, mixed media, painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, collage, watercolors, installation, conceptual art, and urban landscape art. They represent a living history of America – from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to the Civil Rights and the Women’s Movements. Culminating exhibitions will be held in both cities in fall 2016.
The project, ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY, grew from research conducted by the Research Center for Arts and Culture. Above Ground revealed that artists are in many respects a model for society, maintaining strong social networks and an astonishing resilience as they age. Yet 61% of professional visual artists age 62+ have made no preparation for their work after their death; 95% have not archived their work; 97% have no estate plan; three out of every four artists have no will and one in five has no documentation of work at all. An additional resource for all artists to consider their wills and estate plans was developed this year with Columbia University’s Law School at www.elderartistslegalresource.org .
This celebration of the resilience and tenacity of people who have spent a lifetime making art is a testament to creative aging and learning through the lifespan.
The Research Center for Arts and Culture at The Actors Fund, founded at Columbia University, provides data, information, and programming in service of artists and the arts. It has examined the condition and situation of living artists for almost three decades. www.artsandcultureresearch.org . The Actors Fund (AF) was founded in 1882 and is dedicated to providing programs and services for those who are in need, crisis or transition in the entertainment industry and the performing arts. www.actorsfund.org
Media Contact: Joan Jeffri
A new home and a deeper focus for a pioneering organization that has explored the work and life issues of professional artists
NEW YORK, NY – September 1. The Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC), which provides data, information and programming in service of artists and the arts, is joining The Actors Fund in New York City to create THE LEGACY PROJECT. It will continue its ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY project to assist older visual artists in documenting their work and develop a prototype for performing artists to do the same.
The RCAC has spent the last four years at the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) in Washington, D.C. RCAC Director Joan Jeffri will leave NCCA to continue at the helm of the organization she founded at Columbia University in 1985 and to bring her continuing work on artists’ legacies to the artists themselves.
RCAC’s studies have examined the situation of the living artist in America, including the complex challenges facing dancers as they transition out of their performance careers; the communities and support structures that sustain jazz musicians; and, increasingly in recent years, life and work issues for aging artists.
The Actors Fund is a nationwide human services organization that helps all professionals in performing arts and entertainment. The Fund is a safety net, providing programs and services for those who are in need, crisis or transition.
Founded in 1882, The Actors Fund has a broad spectrum of programs including comprehensive social services, health care and insurance counseling, supportive and affordable housing, employment and training services, and skilled nursing and assisted living care. The Fund also makes emergency grants for essential needs, administered from offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
“The Research Center enters its thirtieth year by bringing services directly to those artists it has studied that will honor and protect their legacy, and share their life histories. Its underpinning in academic research, and its more recent residence in creative aging services give it a unique perspective to help older artists save our collective legacy,” says founder and director Joan Jeffri. “We consider our programs a model for positive aging in a professional workforce that has many lessons for society including those of resilience, tenacity, flexibility and a lifetime of meaning and of meaningful work.” For Jeffri, who began her career as a professional actress, there is a particular sweetness to the move to the national organization known for its critical assistance to those who work in performing arts and entertainment.
‘RCAC brings The Actors Fund a unique opportunity to promote and expand cutting edge, quality solutions for our very special older artist population in a way that recognizes their accomplishments and honors their lifetimes,” said Actors Fund President Joe Benincasa.
RCAC will maintain ongoing ties with NCCA which was seminal to the growth of ART CART, as well as with a dozen universities, arts and arts service organizations and with Columbia University where current documentation is housed in its open source digital archive.
“Joan has been a leader in reframing how we think about seniors in the arts,” observed Actors Fund Chairman Brian Stokes Mitchell. “We’re delighted that her work will continue here and be of benefit to our performing arts and entertainment community.”
Gay Hanna, Executive Director of the National Center for Creative Aging, where the RCAC has resided for the last four years, says “Joan Jeffri brought the Research Center for Arts and Culture to NCCA from Columbia University at an early time in the life of NCCA. We have been honored to host RCAC and nurture the second round of the ART CART project in Washington, DC. Now RCAC has deepened its roots not only in Washington, DC but around the country and the world. Joining with The Actors Fund back in New York City allows RCAC to serve more artists more directly across their lifespans. NCCA strongly supports this new partnership.”
Joan Jeffri is a former actress and poet who became interested in artists’ career issues after acting as her own agent. After working for the City University of New York and doing consulting work for the New York State Council for the Arts, she joined Columbia University’s School of Arts in 1975, designing the institution’s first course on arts administration and later founding the Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC). During the 1990s, she moved both the Master’s degree program in arts administration and the RCAC, both of which she directed, to Teachers College. In 2011, the RCAC joined the National Center for Creative Aging.
Jeffri has written several seminal texts including the co-authored Respect for Art: Visual Arts Administration and Management in China and the United States, published in 2007; Arts Money: Raising It, Saving It and Earning It (1989) and The Emerging Arts: Management, Survival and Growth (1980), as well as over 30 research reports from original and commissioned work, and articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Arts & Health, Public, Poetics, Public, the International Journal of Cultural Policy, and the International Journal of Arts Management. Her recent work, on older professional visual and performing artists, was published as ABOVE GROUND and STILL KICKING. www.actorsfund.org/rcac
The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that helps everyone—performers and those behind the scenes—who works in performing arts and entertainment, helping more than 21,000 people directly each year, and hundreds of thousands online. Serving professionals in film, theatre, television, music, opera, radio and dance, The Fund’s programs include social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and employment and training services. With offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, The Actors Fund has been—for 133 years—a safety net for those in need, crisis or transition. Visit www.actorsfund.org.
May 4, 2015: ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY FILM SELECTED FROM 5,400 FILMS FOR FILM FESTIVAL IN ALBANIA …