CFEVA History

More than three decades of service to Philadelphia's artist community.

The Center for Emerging Visual Artists (CFEVA) was founded in 1983 as the Creative Artist Network by Felicity R. “Bebe” Benoliel to encourage the professional development and community involvement of Philadelphia's emerging visual artists. Bebe compiled a prestigious Advisory Board of local and regional artists and curators to assist in the identification and mentorship of emerging talent, and she served as Executive Director until her untimely death in 2000. 

In 2004, the organization changed its name, but its core mission remained steadfast.  Today, CFEVA’s innovative programming serves more than 500,000 individuals annually, including an extensive network of more than 1,000 artists and growing.  Now in our fourth decade in operation, we are more committed than ever to providing relevant programs that better support, equip, and position visual artists as valuable, recognized contributors to our region’s vitality, cultural identity, and livability. 

As CFEVA’s programming has grown over the years, so have the services that the organization offers for visual artists in all career stages.  CFEVA continues to provide access to resources that are needed by artists in order to mature as professionals, educators, and/or community leaders.  We also understand the importance of helping artists reach new audiences, and do so by presenting exhibitions in public and private spaces around the region as well as through our stewardship of major city-wide arts festivals--Philadelphia Open Studio Tours, the largest open studio program in the region with audiences reaching over 47,000, and the biennial Art in the Open.

Additional opportunities are available for artists to interact with their communities through educational outreach programs, including the award-winning Senior Partnership Initiative, an intergenerational project serving elders and students, and Hand-in-Hand, a program connecting artists with homeless youth residents of city shelters.  CFEVA also provides professional development and lifelong learning opportunities for working artists in the form Direct Dialogues, a year-round series of lectures and workshops that emphasize topics outside the scope of most academic arts programs.  Through such initiatives, CFEVA combines time-tested and innovative programming to bring arts opportunities to underserved populations and professional education opportunities to those building visual art careers in Greater Philadelphia. 

No other organization in the region employs such a holistic, hands-on approach to meeting the practical needs of visual artists. CFEVA believes its work is crucial to maintaining the cultural wellbeing of the greater Philadelphia area by supporting the people, the artists, who make cultural improvement possible.