The Board of the Culture & Animals Foundation (CAF) is delighted to announce that Hong Kong–based graphic artist Joan Chan Wing Yan has been awarded the first annual Nancy Regan Arts Prize. The Prize is given to an individual or team who applied that year for a grant from the organization, or has built up a body of work that the Board considers worthy of receiving the award. All genres of art—including performance, dance, music, craft, film, and the visual arts—are open for consideration.
In awarding Joan the prize, the Board noted her wide-ranging commitment to animal rights through accessible cartoons with text in Chinese and English that are seen by millions of readers. “Joan’s work is a great representation of the kind of work the Nancy Regan Arts Prize and the Foundation supports,” said Mia MacDonald, President of CAF’s Board. “It’s excellent in its own right; it’s innovative and creative; and it speaks directly to the suffering of animals and our moral imaginations.” In receiving the award Joan said: “I am grateful and honored to receive this award. It’s a difficult time for many people. I’m hoping with the difficulty comes a higher understanding of suffering, and we can be kinder to all sentient beings. A tremendous number of animals today are confined and that is their forever normal.”
The Arts Prize is named after Nancy Regan, who with her husband, the animal rights philosopher Tom Regan (1938–2017), co-founded CAF in 1985. CAF began when Nancy, who now serves on CAF’s advisory board, attended a performance by Los Angeles–based artist Rachel Rosenthal (1926–2015), who brought animals on stage to open people’s hearts and minds to the “others” with whom they share the Earth. Nancy was struck by the celebratory nature of the event—animal advocacy that used art and culture to raise awareness. Nancy’s vision, complemented by her husband Tom’s academic leadership, helped CAF take shape.
Since then, through its annual grant-giving program, its festivals, and through the Tom Regan Fellowship and Annual Lecture series, CAF has explored the entire cultural language of animal rights, including the arts and scholarship in human–animal studies.