Research Center for Arts and Culture Will Join The Actors Fund to Extend Legacy
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.entertainmentcommunity.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.entertainmentcommunity.org.