EFA is dedicated to providing artists across all disciplines with space, tools and a cooperative forum for the development of individual practice. We are a catalyst for cultural growth, stimulating new interactions between artists, creative communities, and the public.
EFA Studio Program, initiated in November 1998, is an open-submission, juried membership program for professional visual artists, providing subsidized workspace in midtown Manhattan for up to 80 artist-members. Individual studio practice within the EFA community is enriched by career development opportunities including open studio events, exhibitions, professional seminars and collaborative projects with collectors and curators.
Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Program, opened in September 2005, is a fully equipped, professional, cooperative print workspace offering affordable studio access, classes, lectures, demonstrations and skilled staff assistance. RBPMW is guided by Robert Blackburn’s vision of inspiring and fostering a racially and culturally diverse artistic community that embraces technical and aesthetic collaboration. RBPMW publishes the work of talented, underrepresented artists alongside established artists for the purpose of expanding the creation, understanding and collection of fine art prints.
EFA Project Space Program, launched in September 2008, is a public forum that expands beyond the activities in the studios and the workshop, and encourages a critical engagement with the world at large. The Project Space, a multi-disciplinary contemporary art venue, encourages creative expression and new interactions in the arts to generate an ongoing dialogue about the creative process. In collaboration with a diverse range of organizations, curators and artists, Project Space presents exhibitions, projects, performances, residencies, seminars and events that promote a vibrant exchange of ideas among the individuals and communities that shape our culture today.
EFA is more than the sum of its programs, creating a welcoming and engaging community in the center of New York City.
Jane Stephenson, Executive Director
Dathon Pilgrim, Business Manager
Anne Croken, Administrative Coordinator
Bill Carroll, Program Director, EFA Studios
Natalia Nakazawa, Program Manager, EFA Studios
Phil Sanders, EFA Chief Operating Officer / Program Director, RBPMW
Nora Rodriguez, Program Administration / Exhibitions Manager, RBPMW
Justin Sanz, Workshop Manager, RBPMW
Michelle Levy, Program Director, EFA Project Space
Lauren Bierly, Assistant Director, EFA Project Space Claire Barliant, Curatorial Advisor, EFA Project Space
Board of Directors
Townsend Wolfe, Emeritus
Virginia Myers, Emerita
The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts is a 501(c)(3) public charity, incorporated in New York in April 1992. Co-Founded by Jane Stephenson and Guy Buckles, the initial “seed money” was a bequest from Elizabeth Stanley, Stephenson’s mother and a long-time patron of the arts. To recognize Elizabeth’s generosity, the foundation was named after her.
EFA is not a private foundation, but a public nonprofit that must earn or find resources for every program or project undertaken. From the beginning this has necessitated a resourceful entrepreneurial approach.
We began with GIVA (Grants for Individuals in the Visual Arts). The first grants were given in 1993. In nine granting years, a total of almost one million dollars was awarded to honor the work of 107 outstanding artists. The program ended in 2003 as our focus shifted to operating programs that provide longer-term support for the creative practice of individual artists and greater dialogue between artists and community.
In April of 1994, the International Studio Program, a career-development residency program founded by Dennis Elliott, became a full program of EFA. For twelve years, EFA provided administrative and financial support until the program matured to the point that it could stand on its own. In November 2006, the now titled International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) became an independent nonprofit and in 2008 moved from EFA to its own facility in Brooklyn where it continues its excellent work.
In 1996, EFA sought to establish a Program for Senior Artists, a financial support program for older artists. Pilot grants were given for three years. In 1999, the “International Year of Older Persons” at the United Nations, EFA presented an exhibition of 30 older international artists at the UN that was seen by over 100,000 people. EFA continues its commitment to the inclusion of the community of elder artists.
Beginning in 1997, EFA began a search for additional space for ISCP. At the same time, spurred by Co-Founder Guy Buckles’ dream of building a studio center for artists, the possibility of the EFA Studio Center materialized. On May 19, 1998, EFA purchased the twelve-story building on West 39th Street in Manhattan that is the home of EFA. Acting as General Contractor, and working with capital funding from a private foundation, Guy undertook the arduous task of converting the building into a center for contemporary art. The process lasted three years and resulted in the creation of 110 individual work-studios, a gallery space and a space reserved for the printmaking workshop. In November of 1998, the first four studios were finished and the EFA Studio Program began operations.
In 1998, EFA established a wholly owned subsidiary, now named Artopolis Development, to pursue the establishment of additional artist space in the New York area.
In 2001, Robert Blackburn’s legendary Printmaking Workshop (PMW) was forced to close its doors after 53 years of operation, leaving a crucial void. Blackburn challenged The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts to create a new printmaking facility dedicated to his vision and bearing his name, so that future artists could learn and work in a welcoming, diverse, and collaborative printmaking community and future Master Printers could be trained. EFA’s Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop program (RBPMW) opened in September 2005. RBPMW is a modern facility offering classes, collaborative training and studio experience in many print techniques at affordable rates. Free demonstrations, lectures, exhibitions and events draw artists and the interested public to the workshop. RBPMW continues to expand opportunities for the creation, understanding and collection of the fine art print.
After six years of uneven attempts to make the EFA Gallery a major contributor to the art community, the space was re-launched as the EFA Project Space program in September 2008. It is a cross-disciplinary venue focused on the examination of the creative process. This program is developing as a hub of activity for artists and art workers while dynamically engaging with the public.
In 2008-9, EFA began the implementation of a four-year strategic plan, a re-allocation of assets to accomplish long-held goals. By selling portions of the building, EFA is moving forward to accomplish its vision. Much needed capital improvements are underway. An emergency fund will provide better fiscal stability for the operation of EFA’s programs. And Artopolis Development, as a newly independent nonprofit, is being funded to pursue the mission of cultivating artist ownership and promoting the establishment of new artist space. The former Co-Directors of EFA have taken on the separate parts of EFA’s mission with Jane Stephenson in charge of EFA’s operating programs and Guy Buckles in charge of Artopolis Development.
EFA moves forward through the efforts of many exceptional people: a dedicated Board of Directors willing to support change even when it involves risk; the exceptional imagination and hard work of staff members, past and present, paid and unpaid; and the wonderful organizations and individuals who understand and support the mission we pursue.
The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts continues in our determination to serve artists as they strive for creative viability and relevance in our society. We believe in the essential importance of the artist’s influence in our world. We welcome contributions of time, ideas and financial support from those who share our vision.