A Message from PAFA President & CEO Dr. David R. Brigham

To the PAFA community:

I write to address the concerns expressed by some members of our PAFA community, which were outlined in a news article published by Billy Penn. Some of the facts in this story were not reported accurately or were misinterpreted. Let me first once again affirmatively state that as a community of artists and educators, maintaining and encouraging an environment of free speech and diverse views is at the core of our mission.

I can tell you unreservedly that PAFA affirms Black Lives Matter, and that in everything we do, we strive to exemplify the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion. We recognize the deep and enduring legacy of racial injustice, violence, and oppression in this country, the glaring and persistent inequities that continue to impact countless lives, and the urgent need for change. And, we will change.

As we shared publicly in a formal, June 1 statement of solidarity from PAFA’s Senior Staff and Belonging Task Force, our institution is committed to critically examining our own practices in order to do more to advance the causes of racial justice and equity in the future. This goes for our public programs, community education and outreach, curricula, exhibitions, artwork acquisitions, and other initiatives. In 2017, PAFA declared our formal commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our Strategic Plan, and formed the Belonging Task Force in 2018 to further the development of these values in our community. Our Diversity Statement was expanded and adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2019. PAFA has committed to hiring a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator, and two full-time faculty positions reserved for persons of color, in the coming fiscal year. Further concrete commitments, in follow-up to our June 1 message, will be announced in July. This is ongoing and important work, and is fundamental to our mission.

PAFA is nothing without this community of artists, educators, students, staff, and supporters. As we move forward, I hope that you will continue to ask important questions and initiate difficult conversations, as PAFA works to more fully embody our core values and foster positive change in our society. Thank you all.



David R. Brigham, Ph.D.
President & CEO

Last Updated
December 8, 2021 - 11:55 PM

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.