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MacDowell to reopen modified residency program for artists this month

  • MacDowell will open the doors to its Peterborough artists’ residencies later this month.  COURTESY PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/13/2020 9:08:54 AM

Peterborough’s MacDowell artist residency program will open its studio doors to artists later this month for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MacDowell will reopen a scaled-back program to a small cohort of artists under guidance provided to Resident Director David Macy by Mike Lindberg, M.D., chief medical officer at Monadnock Community Hospital, Ricardo Nuila, M.D., an internist at Baylor University Medical Center in Houston and MacDowell Fellow, and Hearthside Family Health, in developing a comprehensive safety plan that has been refined to allow for a fall reopening.

“We are fortunate that MacDowell’s studios were purpose-built to support the solitary work of artists,” said Macy in a press release. “In a necessary trade-off to reactivate MacDowell as a sanctuary for artists, we are putting some limitations on the social dimensions. While shared meals in the dining room will be missed by all, that aspect of the residency experience will have to wait until it is safe for groups to dine together.”

Only artists residing in regions free of CDC travel restrictions are considered currently eligible for residency; MacDowell is offering reimbursement of direct round-trip travel expenses, according to the press release. After 10 days of self-monitoring at their homes, the first group of artists will travel to Peterborough in the third week of October.

Beyond applicable federal and NH state COVID-19 guidelines, added precautions are being enacted such as reducing the resident artist population to half or less of total capacity (32 studios).

Upon arrival, artists will move directly into quarantine in one of MacDowell’s 14 live-in studios where lunch and dinner meals will be delivered daily. Near the start of the residency period, each artist will undergo molecular PCR testing for COVID-19 by Quest Diagnostics. Full quarantine will be maintained until 100 percent of those tests come back with clean results. Post-quarantine, all artists will sustain preventative protocols recommended by the CDC for the duration of their New Hampshire stay. Between one cohort’s departure and the arrival of the next, scheduled downtime will allow each studio sit empty for at least 48 hours before being cleaned. The reduced efficiency in filling the studios is being accepted as another trade-off required to maximize safety.

“Our online program, Virtual MacDowell, was of great support to our Fellows over the last months, but what artists continue to need is the actual time and space in which to contemplate and experiment, and make new work,” said Executive Director Philip Himberg. “MacDowell Fellows are among the visionaries who will inspire and guide us, and their place at the table of our democracy is essential. For that reason, our imperative at MacDowell was to seek and find a safe way to assure that our residency program can contribute, in some way, to the healing of our shared humanity.”

As part of accepting the offer of a Fellowship, all artists pledge to observe precautionary guidelines and policies for the duration of residency. An emergency preparedness plan is also in place for rapid response in the event that COVID-19 cases in the region increase dramatically or if anyone within the MacDowell community tests positive.

The initial artist cohorts will be drawn from the pool of 54 artists whose residencies were cancelled as well as 24 who were on the waitlist for residencies from March through May of this year.

A MacDowell Fellowship consists of exclusive use of a private studio, accommoda tions, and three prepared meals a day. There are no residency fees, and anyone may  apply. Selection is based solely on talent by panels of professionals in each artistic discipline. In July, MacDowell’s board voted unanimously to officially drop the word “colony” from its name. The action was initiated in response to feedback from Fellows and the larger artist community and is in keeping with the organization’s longstanding commitment to eliminate financial, geographic, cultural, and accessibility barriers to participation. 


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