The Culture & Animals Foundation (CAF) began in 1985 under the auspices of animal rights philosopher Tom Regan (1938–2017) and his wife, Nancy (1938–2017). In creating CAF, Tom and Nancy wanted to explore scholarship and the entire cultural language of animal rights, including music, dance, film, poetry, and philosophy. Thus, CAF’s unique combination of the arts and academic investigation was brought into the world.
International Compassionate Living Festival
Shortly after its foundation, CAF began by developing “animal awareness week,” the predecessor to the International Compassionate Living Festival (ICLF), which CAF hosted for twenty consecutive years, and co-produced with the Animals & Society Institute from 2005 to 2008. ICLF brought animal advocates together for dialogue, presentations, and performances. You can listen to attendees talking about their experiences at the ICLF here. In October 2017, CAF, in collaboration with Compassion Arts Festival, revived the spirit of ICLF in a weekend of performance and presentations held at Symphony Space in New York City.
Grant-Making, Fellowships, Prizes, and Lectures
In the course of its three-decades-long history, CAF has worked with some of the leading lights in animal advocacy and scholarship. Since 2008, CAF has given annual grants in research, creativity, and performance. In 2017, CAF established the Tom Regan Visiting Research Fellowship at NCSU and the annual Tom Regan Memorial Lecture, and in 2021, the Nancy Regan Arts Prize, to honor CAF’s two co-founders.
Why CAF Matters
CAF’s history of sponsoring pioneering academic research and writing, as well as the creative projects we have made possible, testify to a widening concern for our fellow creatures. We have demonstrated our commitment to educating the public by supporting scholars and artists whose work focuses on animal rights and animal advocacy in original and often daring ways. Grant recipients and featured presenters have gone on to become award-winning photographers, prize-winning authors, significant artists, and recognized authorities in the humanities and social sciences. As a result, their work, both individually and collectively, has furthered our knowledge and understanding of nonhuman animals. It has fostered compassion, stimulated our thinking, and encouraged societal change in our attitudes toward them.