NYFA Inducts Four Arts Luminaries Into Hall of Fame at Annual Spring Benefit

NYFA Inducts Four Arts Luminaries Into Hall of Fame at Annual Spring Benefit

NYFA affiliated artists Ida Applebroog, Christopher d’Amboise, Lynn Nottage, and Patron of the Arts Peggy Copper Cafritz are the latest illustrious inductees.

NYFA inducted four arts luminaries into its Hall of Fame during its annual benefit on April 4 at 583 Park Avenue. The evening’s honorees were Ida Applebroog, celebrated painter, sculptor, and filmmaker with an upcoming solo show at Hauser & Wirth London; Peggy Cooper Cafritz, influential arts patron and former President of the District of Columbia Board of Education; Christopher d’Amboise, a distinguished choreographer, dancer, and playwright; and Lynn Nottage, award-winning playwright and screenwriter whose play Sweat just opened on Broadway. The gala was Co-Chaired by artist Elia Alba and industrial real estate professional Mary Lang, both members of NYFA’s Board of Trustees.

Guests included Beth B, Filmmaker; Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels, Director, Jack Shainman Gallery; Charlotte d’Amboise, Actress and Dancer (Broadway’s Chicago); Jacques d’Amboise, Dancer, Choreographer, and Director of the National Dance Institute; Vincent Fremont, Senior Advisor, Art Media Holdings, LLC; Elliot Goldenthal, Composer; Ed Lewis, Co-Founder, Essence Magazine; J.T. Rogers, Playwright (Broadway’s OSLO); Jacqueline Sischy, Director, Hauser & Wirth; Julie Taymor, Theater, Opera, and Film Director; and Dread Scott, Artist and NYFA Board Member.

More than 300 attendees gathered to celebrate the 2017 Hall of Fame inductees amongst artworks by NYFA affiliated artists and over cocktails and dinner. The glamorous gala recognizes the sustained achievements of artists who received early career support from NYFA and the vision and commitment of enlightened patrons of the arts. Applebroog, d’Amboise, and Nottage are all past recipients of the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship, which are individual unrestricted grants made to artists who are living and working in New York State.

Artists Carmelita Tropicana, Ashly Legrant, Ivan Cortazar, and Julia Pontes spoke about the support they received from NYFA in the form of grants, entrepreneurship training, and mentoring. Julia Pontes, who participated in NYFA’s Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program, said, “I am living proof of the opportunity NYFA generates…NYFA alleviates the challenges that artists face.”

NYFA Board Chair Judith K. Brodsky thanked the nights’ honorees for their contributions to the arts and described the support that NYFA services and programs provide to artists of all disciplines at all career stages. “While we support artists through grants, even more importantly, we help them sustain themselves,” she said.


Lynn Nottage was the first honoree of the night to be inducted into NYFA’s Hall of Fame. She told the crowd: “Twenty two years ago, before my very first writing commission, before my very first production of a play in New York, before I had an inkling that I was going to forge a life in theater in New York, I received a NYFA grant…which formalized literally the beginning of my writing career in New York.”

Fellow honoree Christopher d’Amboise spoke of when he received a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship. He’d quit a successful career in dance at The New York City Ballet and on Broadway to explore an urge to pursue choreography. He used the Fellowship to discover his own voice as an artist, unique from his mentors George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. He described NYFA’s impact as a means of validation: “I teach now, and when I teach I look for what is in the student that is so big about them that they don’t even know. That’s what NYFA does, it says ‘You are bigger than you can imagine, take the leap of faith.’”

Two-time NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow Ida Applebroog described how the grants came at a time when they were very needed saying: “I received my [first] grant at the lowest income I ever had and the poorest recognition I ever had.” Applebroog continued by recognizing historical federal funding for the arts, ending on a positive note in the face of the proposed NEA and NEH eliminations. “We will survive, all of us, and hallelujah we will survive.”

Upon her induction into the Hall of Fame Peggy Cooper Cafritz drew connections between NYFA and the arts high school she co-founded in Washington, D.C., Duke Ellington School of the Arts. “Over the years I’ve regretted very much that we can’t just transplant our building and our kids and place them in New York so they would have NYFA and the opportunities that they offer…NYFA, like we try to do in Washington, has changed the trajectory of so many lives.”


The evening ended with impassioned words from NYFA Executive Director Michael L. Royce on the importance of arts funding from a federal level and why we must continue to fight for it. He acknowledged the artists in the room and encouraged a round of applause from all to close out the 2017 gala.

Past NYFA Awardees include James Casebere, Anna Deavere Smith, Faith Ringgold, Zhou Long, Junot Diaz, Yvonne Rainer, Spike Lee, Ross Bleckner, Errol Morris, David Hammons, Terry McMillan, Christian Marclay, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Andres Serrano.

Images from top: Christopher d’Amboise, NYFA Board Chair Judith K. Brodsky, Ida Applebroog, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, NYFA Executive Director Michael L. Royce, and Lynn Nottage; NYFA’s 2017 Hall of Fame Benefit at 583 Park Avenue; and Jaye Moon (Fellow in Sculpture ‘09) with her artworks. Photo credit: Carl Timpone/BFA.com.

Amy Aronoff
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