Local writers who dream of having more time to spend on their craft have until Aug. 8 to apply for $25,000 fellowships from the Rhode Island Foundation. The grants are considered to be among the largest no-strings-attached awards available to writers in the United States.
As many as three budding writers will win the grants through Foundation’s Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund. The awards are intended to free aspiring writers to concentrate time on the creative process, focus on personal or professional development, expand their body of work and explore new directions.
“This assistance will permit local writers to spend more time thinking about their work instead of trying to make ends meet. This fellowship reflects the importance that our donors placed on the presence of practicing artists in the community,” said Jenny Pereira, the Foundation’s vice president of grant programs.
Previous recipients of writing fellowships include Marie Myung-Ok Lee, a former visiting lecturer at Brown University who has been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Paris Review; and Sussy Santana, whose most recent book of poetry is “Poemas Domésticos.”
According to Santana, her fellowship gave her more than just the resources to devote more time to writing.
“Being selected was a vote of confidence in my work as an artist. It was very humbling to know that other people believe in and support your creativity. It opened my eyes to what was possible if you keep working hard on your dreams, and if you stay true to who you are as an artist,” said Santana.
Applicants must have been legal residents of Rhode Island for at least 12 months prior to the Aug. 8 deadline. High school students, college and graduate students who are enrolled in a degree-granting program and writers who have advanced levels of career achievement are not eligible.
Applicants will be judged on the quality of their work samples, artistic development and the creative contribution to literary arts, as well as the potential of the fellowship to advance the career of emerging-to-mid-career artists. Applications will be accepted from writers creating new original work in any genre, including poetry.
Although the fellowships are unrestricted, recipients are expected to devote concentrated time to their art and to engage in activities that further their artistic growth. Examples include creating new work, training in technologies or techniques, purchasing equipment, travel, research and developing artistic endeavors.
The recipients will be selected by a panel of five out-of-state jurors who are recognized practicing artists and arts professionals.
Established in 2003, the MacColl Johnson fellowships rotate among composers, writers and visual artists on a three-year cycle. Over the years, the Foundation has awarded 39 fellowships totaling $975,000.
Rhode Islanders Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson were both dedicated to the arts all their lives. Mrs. Johnson, who died in 1990, earned a degree in creative writing from Roger Williams College when she was 70. Mr. Johnson invented a new process for mixing metals in jewelry-making and then retired to become a fulltime painter. Before he died in 1999, Johnson began discussions with the Foundation that led to the creation of the fellowships.
The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $38 million and awarded $43 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2017. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information about applying for a MacColl Johnson Fellowship, visit rifoundation.org.
PHOTO: Budding writers have until Aug. 8 to apply for $25,000 fellowships through the Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation. Pictured are six previous recipients.