Rhode Island Foundation Offers $25,000 Grants to Local Composers

PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island composers who dream of spending a year working on their music have until Sept. 5 to apply for $25,000 fellowships from the Rhode Island Foundation.


Established in 2003, the Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund makes up to three grants a year, rotating among composers, writers and visual artists on a three-year cycle. The fellowships are considered to be among the largest no-strings-attached awards available to composers in the United States.


The grants are intended to free composers to concentrate time on the creative process, focus on personal or professional development, expand their body of work and explore new directions. Over the years, MacColl Johnson has awarded 27 fellowships totaling $675,000.


“Our financial support enables local composers to spend their time making art rather than making ends meet. That honors the importance that the MacColl Johnsons placed on the role of composers in the community,”  said Daniel Kertzner, the Foundation’s vice president for grant programs.


Applicants must have been legal residents of Rhode Island for at least 12 months prior to the Sept. 5 application deadline. High school students, college students who are enrolled in a degree-granting program and composers who have advanced levels of career achievement are not eligible.


Applications will be judged on the quality of the work samples, artistic development and the creative contribution to the field of music composition, as well as the potential of the fellowship to advance the career of emerging to mid-career composers. 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 during the term of the Fellowship and engage in activities that further their artistic growth. Examples include the creation of new work, training in technologies or techniques, purchase of equipment or materials, travel, research and development of artistic endeavors.


Previous recipients of music composition fellowships include Brian Knoth of Providence, who composes music for film, digital video and graphics projects;  Dan Moretti, a saxophonist who wrote and produced a project with an Italian traditional orchestra called Piccola Orchestra La Viola; and Daniel Schleifer, a founder of The What Cheer? Brigade, an award-winning 20-piece ensemble that has performed internationally.


The recipients will be selected by a panel of four out-of-state jurors who are recognized practicing artists and arts professionals. The panel will also name up to three finalists. While this designation does not carry a monetary award, it does reflect a formal recognition of the merit of their artistic work.


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 MacColl Johnson fellowships in music composition, literature and visual arts.


The fellowships are partially underwritten by the Madeline B. Standish Fund, created in 2010 to support the work of writers and artists.


The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island.  In 2013, the Foundation made grants of more than $31 million to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. 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 www.rifoundation.org/maccolljohnson.

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