MacDowell, one of the nation’s first artist residency programs, will reopen a scaled-back program beginning later this month with a small cohort of artists. After closing its doors last March in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Resident Director David Macy was guided 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 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 and, to assure the safest means of transportation, MacDowell is offering reimbursement of direct round-trip travel expenses. 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.
Read McDowell's Safety Plan here.
A MacDowell Fellowship consists of exclusive use of a private studio, accommodations, 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. www.macdowell.org