|A deer grazing outside my window|
What is an artist colony? Simply put, it is a place whose sole mission is to give an artist time and space to work without the interruptions we typically encounter in everyday life. Artists - meaning composers, painters, sculpturists, filmmakers, photographers, writers, playwrights, and so on - apply to a colony; if accepted, they can be given anywhere from typically two to eight weeks to work in solitude (some residences offer longer periods). Artists are given their own studio space, many of which are equipped to handle particular disciplines; for instance, composer studios usually have a piano. Many colonies provide food for the residents as well - indeed, dinners are usually the one communal time the artists share together to enjoy each other’s company before heading back to their studios or taking the night off. Several colonies have wonderful traditions of dropping off lunch at artists’ doorsteps so that the artists can stay engaged in their work; MacDowell Colony is famous for employing old wooden baskets as lunch pails, more or less identical to the type used over one hundred years ago when the colony first began. Most colonies don’t charge artists for their residence, and some even provide travel costs if you can’t afford it.
|A great piano is included in my Ucross studio|
Artist colonies exist all around the country as well as abroad. The Alliance of Artist Communities has a database on their website for you to look for colonies that support composers, as well by state or country. A partial list of colonies that a composer might want to check out includes Ucross Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Copland House, Millay Colony, Djerassi, Ragdale, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Banff Centre.