MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, NH)

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Composer and seven-time MacDowell Colony Fellow Meredith Monk at work on Basket Rondo, a new work for the Western Wind Vocal Ensemble, which she began at MacDowell in 1994. She also began a new piece for her vocal ensemble and the Kronos Quartet during her 2006 residency. Photo by Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

The oldest artists’ colony in the nation, MacDowell Colony provides the essential items all artists need— time and space. The composer Edward MacDowell and his wife, Marian, founded MacDowell Colony in 1906, and throughout its history the only criterion for acceptance has been talent. Today, MacDowell hosts more than 250 writers, composers, visual artists, photographers, printmakers, filmmakers, architects, and interdisciplinary artists each year from all parts of the United States and abroad. In all, MacDowell has hosted more than 5,500 artists, including Aaron Copland, James Baldwin, and Alice Walker.

At the colony, artists receive room, board, and their own studio, which includes the instruments necessary for their particular art, such as a piano for a composer, or a dark room for a photographer. Between 20 and 30 artists are in residence at any time and artists can stay for a maximum of two months. Need-based grants are available to alleviate travel costs, a practice which ensures that those who are qualified to attend have the means to do so. Residents share breakfast and dinner together and have their lunch delivered to their studios to eliminate distractions during the workday. Artists-in-residence also benefit the surrounding community through presentations of their work at local schools, libraries, and senior centers.

In FY 2006, MacDowell Colony received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $25,000 to support fellowships for ten artist residencies. These residencies are becoming a necessary way for artists to support their creative work, and many artists describe their time at the colony as a turning point in their creative career.

(From the NEA 2006 Annual Report)