Leonard Bernstein working in a studio at The MacDowell Colony (Photo courtesy The MacDowell Colony)


What do Quentin Tarantino’s Resevoir Dogs, Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and the musical Grey Gardens have in common? All of these works were created during a residency at an artist retreat.*

Through the decades artist communities have provided support to artists as diverse as Leonard Bernstein, James Baldwin, Ruth Reichl, Robert Rauschenberg, David Sedaris, Meredith Monk, Jonathan Franzen, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Langston Hughes, Merce Cunningham, Flannery O’Connor, Milton Avery, Bob Dylan, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Gilbert, Aaron Copeland, Truman Capote, Jacob Lawrence, Sylvia Plath, David Foster Wallace, Patricia Highsmith, and Bill T. Jones.

If you’re an artist struggling to find free time for your creative work, then a stay at an artist retreat may be just the solution for you.


Dancer Will Rawls practicing in Nef Studio at The MacDowell Colony (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)

Dancer Will Rawls practicing in Nef Studio at The MacDowell Colony (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)


What is An Artist Retreat?

The central idea behind most residencies is to provide artists with time and space to create–to free you from the demands and distractions of daily living. Some programs provide studio space and meals at no cost, while other communities require you to make a small financial contribution toward your stay or to give back to the program in some other way. Some residencies also offer grants to help cover the cost of travel, supplies, lost income, etc. Programs that provide the most support at no cost to the artist are generally the most competitive.

Artist communities vary in size, location, format, and competitiveness, so it is important to do some homework before applying.