History and Mission

The Artist & Elaine Thornton Foundation for the Arts was established in 1986 as a non profit organization designed to uplift, educate, promote and embrace the arts of all disciplines. Those disciplines include drama, dance, visual, music, etc. This institution also promotes occupational awareness by providing several vocational training projects within the Arts discipline. Its mission is to bring about positive social awareness to the inner city community. Accepting donations, the foundation is classified as a 501 c 3 and donations are tax deductible. Art is its vehicle for positive change.

Programs sponsored by Artist & Elaine Thornton Foundation for the Arts include the RC Hickman Young Photographers Workshop, named in honor of respected photojournalist and keeper of the record Mr. RC Hickman. The photography class teaches:

  • Camera terms
  • The use of the camera
  • Creative photography

It also teaches students how to develop their own film into negatives and from there to process into pictures. It also teaches digital photography. The RC Hickman Young Photographers Workshop is now in its 23rd year of presentation of instruction to youth ages 10 through 18 years old.

The Gordon Parks Young Photographers Competition is a Summer program established in 1996 and is named in honor of the Renaissance Man, film maker, author photographer, painter, musician and photojournalist Gordon Parks. The competition provides the opportunity for youngsters between 10 through 18 years of age to win prizes for their very own amateur only photos. It encourages the students and aspirants of photography to continue with this art form and to consider it as a profession in their adult years.

As a culmination to the summer trio of photography programs the Artist & Elaine Thornton Foundation for the Arts invite a distinguished/highly acclaimed photographer to take the podium and share his/her experience of what events led them to choose photography as their career and their experiences behind the camera since and sometimes experiences are shared via a slide presentation. The Young Photographers Guest Lecture Series is now in its 23rd year of presentation.

We encourage our youth to consider photography as a career; we emphasize the many facets of photography, i.e., fashion, sports, interior design, advertising, and as a creative outlet for up and coming artists.

In 1990 and 1991, the Foundation presented the moving play “Zooman and the Sign” written by Charles Fuller, first to Dallas-Ft. Worth as part of an effort to head off gang violence. Included as part of the program was a panel/audience discussion on how to avoid life threatening situations. The panel included a cross section of concerned community citizens, police spokespersons, clergy and organizers. Local popular DJ Cousin Lennie served as moderator for the insightful program. In 1996 the play “Living Phat”, an adaptation of Judi Ann Mason’s “Living Fat” was presented at Cedar Valley College. A sensitive audience, some of whom were new to live theatre presentations warmly received the production. “East Texas Hot Links” written by Texas native Eugene Lee opened in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1995 thrilling an audience of many and receiving a standing ovation. The production appeared at area colleges and universities in various venues including Dallas and Abilene, Texas. In Spring of 1998 was the opening of the acclaimed play “Two Trains Running” written by Pulitizer Prize winning author August Wilson and was welcomed by audiences in Dallas, Denton, TX, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, OK and various college stages and venues.

In 1991 Artist & Elaine Thornton Foundation for the Arts presented a gala reception “Celebrate the Arts” that was attended by movie stars, notable artists and celebrities, friends, like Irma P. Hall, Larry Hagman, Roger E. Moseley, Willie H. Minor, Warren Lanier, to name a few, as an effort to garner funding for the arts programs presented each year by the Foundation.

Our mission is to reach out to youth and elderly alike, to inspire the creative potential in each person through entertaining and serious art. The Foundation is enthusiastically committed to exist as an outlet for those aspiring to be an artist.