News & Events



Announcing the Elder Artists’ Legal Resource

Media Inquiries Contact:
Anne L’Ecuyer, 202-885-3046,


Free Step-by-Step Legal Guide to Estate Planning to Benefit Artists and Those Who Care for Their Estates


Sonia Gechtoff, "Garden, Wave, and Wasterfall." 2001. 60 x 60 inches. Acrylic and Graphite on Canvas.

Sonia Gechtoff, “Garden, Wave, and Wasterfall.” 2001. 60 x 60 inches. Acrylic and Graphite on Canvas.


WASHINGTON, DC, November 24, 2014. When Pablo Picasso died in 1973 at the age of 91, he left behind a fortune in art and assets—but no will. Without a legal document spelling out what was to be done with his enormous estate, Picasso’s family spent years and millions of dollars fighting over the artist’s work, as well as his villas and other valuable holdings. Picasso’s artistic genius was exceptional; his lack of estate planning is not. Artists in general are disinclined to prepare a will or estate plan, according to research. To help address this problem, Columbia University and artists’ advocates collaborated to create a unique new online resource that provides step-by-step instructions to encourage creators to ensure their work lives on beyond them.

The Elder Artists’ Legal Resource was created on behalf of the Research Center for Arts and Culture at the National Center for Creative Aging. The website was designed by students in Columbia Law School’s Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic in collaboration with Columbia University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs and Columbia University School of the Arts.

The online tool offers intuitive, easy-to-understand guidance for artists who want to inventory their work, document its value, and protect it posthumously. According to Above Ground, a survey by the Research Center for Arts and Culture, 61 percent of aging professional visual artists in New York City have taken no steps to address the legacy of their work, 77 percent have no will, and 97 percent have no estate plan. Among the general U.S. population, only 21 percent of people do not have an estate plan, while around 50 percent do not have a will, the center says.

“It’s an overwhelming problem,” said Joan Jeffri, founder and director of the Research Center for Arts and Culture. “When artists reach a critical age, they have concerns that their work will end up in a dumpster. We wanted to be able to do something to help them. A resource like this, which allows artists to engage difficult legal issues in a simple way, is a wonderful contribution to existing tools in
the field.”

The Elder Artists’ Legal Resource was created in response to artists’ advocates who approached Marcia Sells ’84, associate vice president for program development and initiatives in Columbia University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs, to let her know about their concerns. “The Office of Government and Community Affairs exists in part to find opportunities for the University to work with our neighbors to solve a problem,” said Sells, who is also associate dean for The Research Center for Arts and Culture the Office of Community Outreach and Education in Columbia’s School of the Arts. “The Elder Artists’ Legal Resource helps fill a void.”

The tool was designed based on the feedback of artists from the Research Center for Arts and Culture’s ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY, a project begun at Columbia and now part of the National
Center for Creative Aging in Washington, D.C., and from Westbeth Artists’ Housing, which provides affordable living and working spaces for artists and their families in New York City.

Columbia Law School Clinical Professor Conrad Johnson, co-director of the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic with Professor Mary Marsh Zulack and Director of Education Technology Brian Donnelly, said he was surprised to find that an online artists’ estate-planning tool did not exist previously. He said the Elder Artists’ Legal Resource helps fill an important niche—not only for artists, but also for their family and friends. “This isn’t just for elder artists,” Johnson said. “This is for the people who are going to care for their estates, such as family members and loved ones.”

The website is written in plain language and provides simple templates for creating an inventory. The site offers information for visual artists who want to understand the estate-planning process, gain access to valuable resources, or prepare to engage legal services. “Time after time, a life’s work ends up in the trash because it’s too complicated or expensive to do anything about it,” Johnson said. “This is a free, one-stop starting point for estate planning.”

The Elder Artists’ Legal Resource website is a unique collaboration among Columbia Law School’s Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic, the City University of New York Elder Law Clinic, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, and the Research Center for Arts and Culture at the National Center for Creative Aging. The collaboration extends work begun by ART CART to document older artists’ work. Columbia Law School’s Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts also collaborated on the project.

More information at:




A Project that Honors Older Artists and Their Work

Now in her late 60s, Carmen Torruella-Quander says, “This project has made me see that what I do is important….ART CART has opened people’s eyes to what artists DO.”
A painter based in Washington DC, Carmen is talking about ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY, an inter-generational, interdisciplinary project created by the Research Center for Arts and Culture at the  National Center for Creative Aging. The project, which began in 2010, is on its way to a national rollout. ART CART matches teams of advanced students in the arts, health and aging with professional visual artists age 62+ to help document their work and save our national legacy — a legacy of the Civil Rights movement, the women’s movement, the history of the country.


New Study Finds Artists Higher Functioning Than General Population

WASHINGTON, DC, September 15, 2014. A new study by the Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC) at the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) shows that artists are highly functioning members of society who experience less loneliness and depression than the general population.

ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY: A Feasibility Study for a National Model of Health Promotion and Wellness Among Older Adults administered eight measurements in social inclusion, morale, productivity, and safe functioning in a studio setting in New York City and Washington, DC. Research participants were 62 years old or over with a mean age of 78. Nineteen older artists participated in the ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY project documenting their work, while the control group consisted of 16 older adult artists who did not participate in the ART CART program. Results comparing ART CART participants to general population surveys (National Long Term Care Survey) showed that at baseline, ART CART participants reported statistically significant better physical capacity compared to older respondents. Sixty percent do volunteer work (twice the percentage of general population). None presented symptoms of depression, compared to 11% to 16% range of people with clinically relevant depressive symptoms reported in the 2008 Health Retirement Study.

Results of the depression, morale and loneliness measurements were also compared to Dr. Gene Cohen’s Creativity and Aging study of choristers 65 and over and were almost identical to the RCAC’s findings, suggesting that both professional and avocational art making and participation may contribute to higher functioning.

ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY is an inter-generational, interdisciplinary project that matches aging professional artists with teams of advanced students in the arts, health and aging to help document their work and save our national legacy. In addition to the health findings, a program evaluation revealed the importance of the core issues of identity and self-esteem, life review, the ability to learn new tasks, and the fact that the artists are now in a better position to produce their art, market it, donate and sell it, apply for grants and protect their legacies by arranging for wills and estate plans.

The original research was funded by the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; the data analysis and dissemination report was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

For the full study please go to or the NEA webpage,


Media Inquiries Contact:

Anne L’Ecuyer, 202-885-3046,



Art Cart: Saving the Legacy featured in Woodstock Film Festival

The 15th annual Woodstock Film Festival, August 29th – September 1st, 2014, will include the ART CART: SAVING THE LEGACY.

Learn more at



Long, Creative Lives

A letter to the editor in response to Eliza Bent’s article, “The Age Advantage” in the April 2014 issue of American Theatre.



ART CART Added to Academic Commons @ Center for Digital Research and Scholarship

Columbia Libraries/Information Services’ Center for Digital Research and Scholarship is pleased to announce the addition of the ART CART: Saving the Legacy project to Columbia’s institutional repository Academic Commons. ART CART is an intergenerational arts legacy project that connects aging professional artists with teams of graduate students to document and archive their creative work. Art works and oral histories from twenty-five New York City and Washington DC-based artists can now be found in the ART CART collection in Academic Commons.

The addition of the ART CART collection to Academic Commons provides researchers, scholars, artists, private collectors, and the general public with free, unrestricted access to the works of these twenty-five living artists, who are aged between 63 and 101 years old. Their media include drawing, painting, quilting, installation art, photography, and sculpture.

Academic Commons is Columbia University’s digital repository where faculty, students, and staff of Columbia and its affiliate institutions can deposit the results of their scholarly work and research. Content in Academic Commons is freely available to the public, and now contains more than 12,000 items of research.

The ART CART project began at the Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC) at Teachers College in 2010, which relocated to the National Center for Creative Aging in Washington DC in 2011 to take the project to a national platform. In New York City, student fellows from Columbia’s Programs in Occupational Therapy and the School of Social Work worked on the project with students fromNew York University, the Pratt Institute, and The New School. In Washington DC, student fromAmerican and Howard Universities and the Corcoran College of Art + Design partnered in a community-based project model that included The Phillips Collection and IONA Senior Services.

Joan Jeffri, founder of the RCAC and ART CART, said: “Having the ART CART collection live in Academic Commons enables us to spread the word about living artists in a meaningful and thoroughly documented way. For the artists, it provides a place of pride in this institutional repository in which they can keep a lasting record of their work.”

Marilee Shapiro, a contributing artist to ART CART at 101 years old, said: “I am very grateful to be in this great program. Every old artist’s anguish is what to do with one’s body of work. Destroy, abandon it to its fate? Along came ART CART to the rescue.”

Rebecca Kennison, Center for Digital Research and Scholarship Director, commented: “The addition of the ART CART collection to Academic Commons is in keeping with our aim to house a diverse, vibrant range of research items in Columbia’s digital repository. We are excited to make this important art legacy project openly available to all who wish to access it.”

The ART CART collection will continue to be updated with new works by the current twenty-five artists as well as by artists new to the project. It can be found in Academic Commons at

The Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) works to increase the utility and impact of research produced at Columbia by creating, adapting, implementing, supporting, and sustaining innovative digital tools and publishing platforms for content delivery, discovery, analysis, data curation, and preservation. The Center engages in extensive outreach, education, and advocacy to ensure that the scholarly work produced at Columbia University has a global reach and accelerates the pace of research across disciplines. CDRS is one of six entities that comprise the Digital Programs and Technology Services branch of Columbia University Libraries/Information Services.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and

The Research Center for Arts and Culture (RCAC) provides data and ideas for applied research, education, advocacy, policy making, and action. Its seminal research, ABOVE GROUND, was the foundation for the ART CART project. Both are founded and run by Joan Jeffri.

The National Center for Creative Aging is the auspice for the Research Center for Arts and Culture. The national clearinghouse at the nexus of creativity and aging, it is dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and quality of life for older adults.



ART CART Reception & Silent Auction

ART CART is an interdisciplinary, intergenerational, inter-professional project that matches teams of advanced students in health, aging and the arts with professional visual artists age 62+ to help document their work and save our national legacy. Founded in 2010 by the Research Center for Arts and Culture(RCAC) at the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), the program is now going national!

Wednesday, May 14
6 p.m. Reception and Silent Auction*
7 p.m. ART CART Presentation
College of Community and Public Affairs
Binghamton University Downtown Center
67 Washington St., Binghamton
Invitation to follow.

*Artwork for the silent auction donated by Eva Deutsch Costabel and Morgan O’Hara  Proceeds from the silent auction will be used to support the national network affiliation with RCAC/NCCA. 

The Binghamton-Ithaca region will be one of four ART CART sites in 2015, through a partnership between Binghamton University, Cornell University, Ithaca College, Broome County Arts Council and Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County.