Media release

Rhode Island composers can apply for $25,000 MacColl Johnson Fellowships

Rhode Island composers who dream of having the resources to push their craft to the next level have until September 14 to apply for $25,000 fellowships. The grants are considered to be among the largest no-strings-attached awards available to artists in the United States.

The Foundation will award grants to as many as three emerging or mid-career visual composers through its Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund. The awards are intended to free them to concentrate time on the creative process, focus on personal or professional development, expand their body of work and explore new directions.

“This support will permit local musicians to spend more time focusing on their work rather than trying to make ends meet. These fellowships reflect the importance our donors placed on nurturing the presence of practicing artists in the community,” said Jenny Pereira, the Foundation’s vice president of grant programs.

Previous recipients of composing fellowships include Jeff Prystowsky, the co-founder of the popular local folk/indie band The Low Anthem; Jacob Richman, whose creative work focuses on unique performance settings and mixtures of composition for live performers, media arts and site-specific installations, as well as community artwork centering around homeless advocacy; and Kirsten Volness, whose musical style integrates complex contrapuntal textures, drones, resonance and organic development of ideas with strong influences from indie rock, electronic music and jazz idioms.

According to Richman, his fellowship gave him more than just the resources to devote more time to his art.

"Being a MacColl Johnson Fellow was a great honor. It allowed me the space and time to focus on the next steps in my work and career,” he said. “It helped support my development of new skills, techniques, and technologies, and helped me while I continued working with various community and creative-advocacy collaborations."

Applicants must have been legal residents of Rhode Island for at least 12 months prior to the September 14 deadline. High school students, college and graduate students who are enrolled in a degree-granting program and individuals 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 music, as well as the potential of the fellowship to advance their career. Applications will be accepted from composers creating new original work in any genre.

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 out-of-state jurors who are recognized practicing artists and arts professionals. For more information about applying, go to MacColl Johnson Fellowships.

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 more than $1 million in fellowships.

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 $47 million and awarded $56 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2019. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.