The Culture and Animals Foundation
The Culture and Animals Foundation (CAF) is a nonprofit, cultural organization committed to fostering the growth of intellectual and artistic endeavors united by a positive concern for animals. Founded in 1985 by Nancy and Tom Regan, CAF exists to expand our understanding and appreciation of animals — improving the ways in which they are treated and their standing in human society.
Through cultural studies, history, and philosophy, we explore our relationship with animals. Through arts and letters — poetry, dance, fiction, painting, theater, sculpture, music — we celebrate our unity. In seeing and understanding kindred animals, we see and understand a part of ourselves.
With philosopher Tom Regan at its helm, it was only natural that CAF would look to intellectual and creative pursuits to achieve this goal, fostering dialogue and rigorous exploration of contemporary animal issues.
By appealing to individual intellect, creativity and compassion, CAF believes we can awaken people to the plight and grandeur of kindred animals–and ultimately build a deeper understanding of human-animal relationships and a greater respect for basic animal rights.
It began with a news story about a theatre performance. It became the groundwork for a different type of animal advocacy organization.
In 1985, Nancy Regan heard about LA-based performance artist Rachael Rosenthal 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 Tom’s academic leadership as a philosopher, helped Culture and Animals Foundation take shape.
“Once you take the first step,” says Nancy, “you realize there is more to be done.” Beyond performance, Tom and Nancy wanted to explore the entire cultural language of animal rights, including music, dance, film, poetry and philosophy.
They began by producing “animal awareness week,” the predecessor to the International Compassionate Living Festival (ICLF) that CAF produced for twenty consecutive years, and co-produced with the Animals & Society Institute from 2005 to 2008. The largest animal advocacy event in the southeast, ICLF brought animal advocates together for dialogue, presentations and performances.
In later years, CAF began funding grants to support others who used cultural advocacy to raise awareness of animal rights. Today the foundation continues with annual grants in three categories: Research, Creativity and Performance.
Since its inception, The Culture and Animals Foundation has been headed by partners in life and in advocacy, Tom and Nancy Regan.
Tom and Nancy’s journey toward animal advocacy was influenced by their involvement in the peace movement. Drawn to the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, they learned that Gandhi believed that the fork could be a weapon of violence. It was then they recognized the link between violence and the treatment of animals, and began to see animal rights as a significant moral issue.
Since that time, they have dedicated their lives to advancing the animal advocacy movement through both The Culture and Animals Foundation and Tom’s work as a scholar and writer.