Ellen Akimoto. Photo: Michael Cestaro
Since its creation 50 years ago, the Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship has become one of the leading residency programs in the world.
Each year, the Work Center offers 20 seven-month residencies to a juried group of emerging visual artists, fiction writers, and poets, each of whom receive an apartment, a studio (for visual artists), and a monthly stipend of $1,000 plus an exit stipend to support the transition. Residencies run from October 1 through April 30. During this time, Fellows have the opportunity to pursue their work independently in a diverse and supportive community of peers.
The Fine Arts Work Center has hosted more than 1,000 Fellows since 1968, nurturing an accomplished and far-reaching alumni network. The impact of the experience is best illustrated by the extensive list of awards Fellows have gone on to win, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, MacArthur Fellowship, Prix de Rome, Pulitzer Prize, and the Nobel Prize in Literature.
During the course of the Fellowship, each Writing Fellow is invited to give a public reading and each Visual Art Fellow is given a solo exhibition opportunity. Readings and openings are attended by current and past Fellows, local residents, visitors to Provincetown, leadership of the town’s numerous cultural institutions, and the many illustrious artists and writers who make their homes in Provincetown. Events take place in the beautifully renovated public spaces of the Work Center: the Stanley Kunitz Common Room and Hudson D. Walker Gallery.
While in residence, Fellows also help select a series of visiting artists and writers. These visiting artists and writers meet with the Fellows for studio visits and manuscript reviews and give public readings and artist talks that draw thousands from Provincetown and beyond. Visiting guests have included presidential inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander; Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel; winner of the National Book Award for Poetry Mark Doty; Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress Robert Pinsky; artist and MacArthur Fellowship recipient Judy Pfaff; and Katherine Porter, whose work is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
The Work Center’s founders believed that seven months was the minimum amount of time needed for artists and writers in the crucial early stages of their career to learn to structure their lives around their creative practice. Each generation of Fellows ideally moves on from the Work Center with a firm belief in their ability to pursue a life as a practicing artist or writer.