(Boston, MA) Lawrence J. Simpson, board chair of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), announced that executive director Rebecca Blunk has stepped down as of March 1, 2014, for health and personal reasons. A national search will commence in the coming weeks.

Ms. Blunk came to NEFA from the Nebraska Arts Council in 1985 as the director of performing arts and then served as deputy director for ten years before being named executive director in 2004. Under her leadership, the organization brought important resources to New England, strengthening its capacity to connect artists and communities through regional, national, and international programs. Blunk’s tenure is marked by many accomplishments, including:

  • Establishing the Expeditions grant program and its annual Idea Swap convening—supporting New England’s access to the performing arts through collaborative planning and presentation
  • Hosting Creative Economy conferences and awards—showcasing best practices and replicable projects from local communities and  recognizing remarkable leadership from across the region
  • Advancing the National Dance Project, now a cornerstone of dance touring and funding in the U.S.
  • Developing a Native Arts program, increasing support and visibility for Native American artists in New England and beyond
  • Launching the National Theater Project to provide networking and funding support for some of the most creative theater makers of our time
  • Engaging in international exchange and cultural diplomacy with artists of Australia, Cambodia, France, Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Pakistan, and Vietnam.

“My work with NEFA has been enormously exciting and satisfying,” said Blunk. “The energy, passion, and dedication of those I have been fortunate to work with—staff, board, presenters, and funders, and of course the many superb artists—have inspired and challenged me. It has been the work of my life, and I look forward to seeing the great work that lies ahead for NEFA and its next generation of leaders."
Noted board chair Larry Simpson, “The deep personal commitment and care that Rebecca has brought to her work are evident in the many model programs at NEFA and its track record of creating systems of support and lasting connection in the arts. As a result, the organization is well positioned for continued success, and it is with tremendous gratitude that we acknowledge her leadership as we look to the future.”

NEFA’s board will conduct a national search for a new executive director. In the meantime, COO Laura Paul and director of programs Jane Preston have been named interim co-executive directors, and will also serve on the search committee.

About NEFA
NEFA builds connections among artists, arts organizations, and funders, powering the arts to energize communities in New England, the nation, and the world. NEFA is a 501(c)(3) that operates in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the New England state arts agencies, with additional funding from corporations, foundations, and individuals.

NEFA administers grantmaking programs that support the performing arts, public art, and Native American artists. NEFA also leads projects and initiatives that range from the analysis of the impact of the creative economy to the creation of online tools which link and advance the regional, national, and international cultural community. For more information, visit or call 617.951.0010.


Contact: Ann Wicks | 617.951.0010x534

Photo by Abigail Maulion

Stay Connected

Receive the latest news, grant offerings, and community events.

Sign up