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Affordable Art Fair
Inspire me - 08 March 2020

Meet Free Arts NYC

Did you know that March is Women's History Month? To celebrate the work of just a few talented female artists, gallerists, collectors and advisors that work in the arts, we've created a Women in Art magazine. If you like this article, follow the link below for more.



Free Arts NYC is a long-term partner of Affordable Art Fair NYC fall, working together to promote their arts and mentoring programmes at the fairs, plus providing some fantastic interactive creative activities to bring their work to life! Their mission is to “empower underserved youth through art and mentoring programs to develop their creativity, confidence, and skills to succeed” and we’re 100% on-board.

As a part of our Women in Art campaign, during Women’s History Month, we spoke to Liz Hopfan, Founder and Executive Director of Free Arts NYC to find out more about their work and its contribution towards the creative youth of tomorrow.




Hi Liz, what is your background and how did it lead you to create Free Arts NYC?

After college, I spent time traveling and ultimately landed in California as an elementary school teacher in south central LA. It was there that I started volunteering with Free Arts. Seeing the lack of resources in my classroom and the impact that my time as a volunteer had on the kids I worked with made me decide to move back east and with a very lucky, six-degrees-of-separation-story, I was introduced to a philanthropic family who provided me with the seed money to start Free Arts NYC.

That was over twenty years ago! Today Free Arts has fourteen operating staff, a budget of 2.4 million dollars and each year works with over 3,000 young people between the ages of 6 -18. We help countless kids find their voice through art and get the attention they need from their mentors.

Liz Hopfan, Founder and Executive Director. Artwork by Jon Burgerman.


What a fantastic impact! Why do you think arts mentoring so important?

We strive to level the playing field by providing high-quality arts and mentorship programs to youth who do not have access to them. It is one of the only youth organizations in NYC that combines 1:1 mentoring and intensive art programming.

Mentoring creates positive impact in the lives of young people. Those with mentors have higher rates of high school graduation and are less likely to drop out of school – 55% are more likely to enrol in college. They develop more self-confidence, self-esteem, and are able to create big goals for themselves, in fact they are 140% more likely to hold leadership positions in their careers. Additionally, studies show that their behaviour, attitudes, and relationships improve. Ultimately, our mentors help children grow and close the social and economic opportunity gaps that exist today.


Do any of the youth’s you work with go on to work in the arts?

Yes, Free Arts has helped young people get accepted at LaGuardia, The High School of Art & Design, School of Visual Arts and FIT. We have given teens their first paid internships at fashion houses and art galleries. For those of us who are parents we all know how important those internships are for our kids. There are so many young people in NYC who love art but for so many, until they work with us, they don’t know that this can be a career.


Free Arts NYC at the Affordable Art Fair NYC fall 2019


What is your vision for the future of Free Arts?

We’re focused on continual growth in providing young people with creative resources and experiences that they wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise. We’re set to launch a digital literacy program this year thanks to support from Verizon, which will help take our programming to the next level and prepare our young people with technical skills to create.

And in the near future we will be honouring KAWS and Julia Chiang at the Free Arts NYC Annual Art Auction at Hudson Mercantile.


Thanks to Liz for giving us some more insight into the work that Free Arts NYC do. To read more interviews and insight in our Women in Art online magazine follow the link below, plus click here to find out more about Free Arts NYC and book tickets to their Annual Art Auction.




Free Arts NYC partners with public schools, community centers, and homeless shelters throughout the city. Their goal is to empower youth and build their self-esteem, confidence, communication, and problem-solving skills through art and mentoring programs. Through employee engagement events and intensive mentorship programs, their youth learn the skills necessary to succeed in academic, professional, and daily-life situations. To view their 2019 programme recap, click here.


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