Monday evening, Ucross celebrated its longstanding partnership with the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel during a dinner attended by more than 100 participants of the International Hemingway Society Conference at Sheridan College. Kevin Powers of Fernandina Beach, Florida, a PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author and an alumnus of the Ucross artist residency program, gave the keynote address.
The event commenced with an instrumental fiddle performance by local musicians Dave Munsick and Tris Munsick. As they enjoyed the music, attendees viewed Hemingway in Wyoming, a digital exhibition curated by Steve Paul, an honorary Ucross Fellow, a longtime member of the Hemingway Society, and a supporter of the PEN/Hemingway Award.
Presented annually, the PEN/Hemingway Award honors a debut novel of exceptional merit by an emerging American author. The winner receives a $10,000 cash prize, and the winner and finalists have the opportunity to visit Ucross for an artist residency, which includes uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef, and the experience of the majestic High Plains on its 20,000-acre ranch in northern Wyoming.
“When a writer travels to Ucross from elsewhere, especially if they are new to the West, they are bombarded with new observations, new sensory details, new experiences of the material world that fill that great reserve — consciously or unconsciously — and this, in turn, fuels creativity,” said Ucross President William Belcher as he addressed the Hemingway Society. “It’s part of the magic of Ucross. So, we have a type of kinship with Hemingway in this way, as we know that the observed world here can evoke that ‘real thing’ that Hemingway was after.”
The partnership between Ucross and PEN/Hemingway was proposed in 1995 by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx, then a Ucross trustee, with the goal of increasing support to emerging writers at a crucial period of their literary careers. Proulx had written two books at Ucross, The Shipping News and Postcards, and understood the value of uninterrupted time to concentrate on new work.
In the 26 years since, Ucross has provided artist residencies for nearly 75 PEN/Hemingway Award winners and finalists, including Colson Whitehead, Sigrid Nunez, Ottessa Moshfegh, Joshua Ferris, Yaa Gyasi, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Kawai Strong Washburn.
“It has never been easy to be an emerging fiction writer, and contemporary pressures have made it even harder,” noted former Ucross President Sharon Dynak, who led the formation of the partnership. “We think Ernest Hemingway would have appreciated the gift of uninterrupted time at Ucross — and he definitely would have appreciated the lunches and dinners our extraordinary chef prepares for Ucross residents. We also think he would have liked our landscape and wildlife and somewhat primal solitude — excellent conditions for the making of original work.”
After Dynak and Belcher’s remarks, Powers took the stage. In his keynote, he emphasized the impact Hemingway had on him throughout his career, as well as the significance of scholars, writers, and administrators gathering to honor the literary arts. Powers then read a powerful excerpt from his latest work, noting that he had revised the chapter at the Ucross dining room table the day before.
Powers is the author of The Yellow Birds, which, in addition to winning the PEN/Hemingway Award, won the Guardian First Book Award and was a National Book Award Finalist. He was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, was a Michener Fellow in Poetry at the University of Texas at Austin, and served in the U.S. Army in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq, in 2004 and 2005. Powers’s novel A Shout in the Ruins was published in 2018, and his third novel will be published in 2023.
Featuring famed Wyoming musician Jalan Crossland, the Ucross Arts Festival is set for Sunday, August 28, beginning at 4 p.m. in The Park at Ucross. The event, which is free and open to the community, will conclude Sheridan County’s Celebrate the Arts weekend.
In addition to a performance by Crossland — who has experienced two artist residencies at Ucross — the festival will feature a reading by novelist Brandon Hobson of Las Cruces, New Mexico (Cherokee Nation), a recipient of the Ucross Fellowship for Native American Writers. Hobson’s latest novel, The Removed, was published to great critical acclaim in 2021 and won the Western Heritage Award. His book, Where The Dead Sit Talking, was a finalist for the National Book Award, among other distinctions. His short stories have won a Pushcart Prize and have appeared in the best American Short Stories, McSweeney’s, Conjunctions, Noon, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing at New Mexico State University and at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Ucross Arts Festival attendees will also receive a complimentary print of a commissioned painting by Savannah LeCornu of Bellingham, Washington (Tsimshian [Wolf Clan], Haida, Athabascan, Nez Perce, and First Nations Nisga’a), a recipient of the Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists.
“The Ucross Arts Festival gives us the opportunity to share the work of our respected artist residency program’s alumni with our friends and neighbors in northeastern Wyoming,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “We are thrilled to present Jalan Crossland, a former artist-in-residence who spent many summers performing on the lawn outside of the Ranch House during our past Fourth of July gatherings. And we look forward to introducing Brandon Hobson and Savannah LeCornu to the community in what will be a wonderful celebration of the arts.”
Local food trucks will sell food and drink throughout the Ucross Arts Festival, including Bonafide, Stoked Pizza, and Papa Bino’s.
Tickets are free and available here; however, only a limited number will be released. The Park at Ucross is located before the intersection of Highways 14 and 16 East in Ucross or at the address 2753 US-14.
Celebrate the Arts is a multi-day festival highlighting the vibrant arts community residing at the base of the eastern Bighorn Mountains. Local arts organizations, artist residencies and art studios come together to promote, display, and celebrate the unique visual and performing arts in Sheridan, Wyoming, and the surrounding communities.
Ucross and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice are pleased to announce a joint music fellowship intended to promote equity in the jazz field. The inaugural Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice Partnership at Ucross award will be presented to Shamie Royston, an acclaimed pianist from Denver, Colorado, in Fall 2022.
Made possible through the vision and leadership of Ucross trustee and alumna Kate Schutt, who studied jazz guitar at the Berklee College of Music, the fellowship will be awarded once a year to a female jazz musician/composer. The awardee will receive a two-week residency at Ucross, which consists of uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef, and the experience of the majestic High Plains on a 20,000-acre ranch in northern Wyoming. The award also includes a $2,000 stipend.
“I am incredibly proud to partner with Ucross, an organization that values artistic freedom and creativity, in presenting Shamie Royston with the inaugural fellowship,” said Terri Lyne Carrington, founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. “Shamie is incredibly talented as a composer, arranger and pianist, with limitless creative potential. I cannot wait to see the results that will come out of her artist residency. Her dedication to her craft and exemplary work deserves the opportunity to experience the unparalleled creative freedom this fellowship will provide.”
“Ucross is honored to join forces with the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice to champion women in jazz. We look forward to welcoming Shamie Royston to our campus for uninterrupted time and space this fall,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “Also, I want to thank Kate Schutt for her dedication to Ucross, her vision, and her ability to connect these two organizations in a meaningful way for the partners and for female jazz artists.”
Royston, according to JazzTimes, is “a vigorous, versatile pianist.” She grew up in Denver alongside her sister, the award-winning musician and Berklee professor Tia Fuller, in a musical and academically minded household. The daughters of two public school teachers, the sisters were introduced to jazz at a young age and eventually joined their parents in a family band. As a teenager, Royston attended the Telluride Jazz Camp and the University of Denver. She was mentored by trumpeter Ron Miles with whom she formed a band and later recorded with drummer Ginger Baker of Cream.
Today, Royston has established herself as an in-demand performer and educator in the New York/New Jersey area. Kevin Whitehead, in reviewing Royston’s album “Beautiful Liar” on Fresh Air, claims that her music is “straight-ahead, tuneful, hard-swinging brand of jazz that’s always in style” and that her “composing really stamps her music.” DownBeat Magazine states that her music is “mainstream post-bop with thoughtful interaction and a deep sense of poise. It swings hard and breathes easy.”
Aside from leading her own ensembles, she continues to work with Fuller and has appeared with Christian McBride, Sean Jones, Lonnie Plaxico, Ralph Peterson, Terri Lyne Carrington, Allison Miler, and many others.
40th Anniversary Campaign to fund a major renovation of the Ucross Art Gallery, construction of a dance studio, new fellowship awards, and program enhancements, as well as community engagement
United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo to kick off Ucross’s anniversary events in February 2023
Today, during a speech delivered at its inaugural Founder’s Day, Ucross announced the public launch of a $5 million capital campaign timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the famed artist residency program, which first welcomed artists in 1983.
“For nearly 40 years, Ucross has provided artists with the rare and remarkable gift of time and space in an unparalleled landscape,” said William Belcher, President of Ucross. “This campaign will prepare us for the next 40. It will help us preserve the Ucross experience, which is rooted in our location on a working ranch here in northern Wyoming. The funds we raise during this period will strengthen our ability to serve as a vital and relevant resource for artists, and it will deepen our role as a cultural resource for our community.”
According to Belcher, the quiet phase of the 40th Anniversary Campaign began at the start of 2021. To date, Ucross has raised $2.8 million in gifts and pledges, led by a $1.175 million gift by Deborah and Edward Koehler of the Raymond Plank Philanthropy Fund.
Ucross has attained 100 percent participation from its Board of Trustees. To raise the remaining $2.2 million, the nonprofit organization will ask individuals and grant-makers to contribute to the campaign over the next 18 to 20 months. All gifts to Ucross made between now and the end of 2023 will count toward the goal.
“We are all invested in Ucross’s future and its continued success,” said Jim Nelson, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “For many years, our financial underpinning was supported by our founder, so this is the first official capital campaign without his presence. I’m heartened by the generosity of the trustees and lead donors, but we have a lot of work to do. I hope others will join us by supporting the campaign and celebrating Ucross’s past, present, and future.”
Ucross has embarked upon two major construction projects that are at the center of the campaign: a renovation of the Ucross Art Gallery and the construction of a dance studio and multi-purpose performance space. Ucross is working with Arete Design Group, a Sheridan-based architecture firm, and O’Dell Construction as contractor for both construction projects.
UCROSS ART GALLERY
The Ucross Art Gallery, which is housed in the Big Red Barn in the center of Ucross’s campus, is dedicated to enhancing, supporting, and amplifying the creative work of Ucross’s visual and collaborative artists.
Once complete, the renovated interior will feature a two-story central room to allow for large-scale works of art, such as sculpture and installations. The reconfigured space will also include a digital media room; a program office; a kitchen for event support; art receiving and storage space; and a collaborative meeting room for artists, staff, and trustees.
An important public extension of the organization’s mission, the Ucross Art Gallery will present two to three exhibitions each year, focused on alumni, including the recipients of the Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists. Each exhibition offers new opportunities for educational programming, artist talks, public workshops, and exhibition brochures. Entry will be free and open to the public.
DANCE STUDIO AND PERFORMANCE SPACE
To enhance its offerings for dancers, choreographers, and performers, Ucross is constructing a state-of-the-art dance studio and multi-purpose performance space. This building will connect to the Ucross Art Gallery through a glass vestibule.
The exterior of the new building is designed to reflect the iconic profile of the Big Red Barn, but it will offer several unique features. In addition to the vestibule, a set of large accordion-style glass doors will open onto a concrete patio, allowing artists to cross between the studio and the open air. The patio, which provides a stunning view of the Bighorn Mountains to the west, will also double as an outdoor viewing area for public performances.
“We envision the space as a state-of-the-art studio for dancers and performers,” Belcher noted. “But it is also a flexible performance space that connects the indoor and outdoor, which provides a whole new set of opportunities for our artists-in-residence, as well as the public.”
Ucross is known for its writing studios, its visual arts studios, and its composer studios. The addition of a stunning new dance studio will further set Ucross apart and attract more world-class dancers, choreographers, and groups to Ucross, Wyoming.
SUPPORT FOR ARTISTS, RESIDENCY PROGRAM
In addition to the gallery and dance studio, campaign funds will directly support artists through investments in the residency program and artist stipends.
Each year, the 100 artists who are selected for a residency at Ucross are provided with a private studio, accommodations, meals by a professional chef, and staff support, as well as the cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary discussion that occurs with their peers. In 2021, Ucross began a pilot program to present each artist with a stipend to offset a portion of their travel and lost income during their two-, four-, or six-week residency. Funds raised during the 40th Anniversary Campaign will allow Ucross to sustain the artist stipends while simultaneously investing in much-needed program enhancements, such as updated studio equipment and furnishings in resident rooms.
Ucross’s role as a cultural resource for the community is a prominent component of the campaign. Belcher noted that the renovated Ucross Art Gallery will provide new opportunities for exhibitions, artist talks, and events. In addition, a refurnished Raymond Plank Center will serve as a resource for groups looking to meet at Ucross, as well as the site for a future archive.
With this campaign, Ucross aims to expand its art programming for the community with events such as the Ucross Arts Festival, which will feature alumni Jalan Crossland and Brandon Hobson in August. The organization will also continue the tradition of hosting the Ucross Community Christmas Celebration, which includes caroling by a local children’s choir, art activities, and a special reading by bestselling author and Ucross neighbor Craig Johnson.
During the Founder’s Day speech, Belcher announced that Ucross is bringing United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo to Sheridan in February 2023 for a series of events, including a craft discussion at Sheridan College and an evening of poetry and music at the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center. Harjo, a Ucross alumna, is serving an unprecedented third term as the nation’s Poet Laureate, and she is the first Native American to serve in this role.
“The weekend with Joy Harjo will kick off a series of celebratory events connected to our 40th anniversary,” said Belcher. “Like Founder’s Day, it is also an example of what Ucross can do to better connect what happens here at Ucross with our community in Sheridan and Johnson Counties, in Wyoming, and throughout the Mountain West.”
Learn more about how to participate in the 40th Anniversary Campaign.
Ucross, the renowned artist residency program, announced today that it has hired Heather Heath to serve as Development Associate. In this role, Heath will coordinate the nonprofit organization’s fundraising activities.
“Growing up in Sheridan, the arts were always very important to me,” said Heath, who participated in choir and musical theater at the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center and Sheridan High School, as well as choir clinics around the U.S. “I’m excited to witness — and be a part of — the effect that Ucross has on artists, not only in our region but worldwide.”
The position at Ucross brings Heath back to Sheridan County. After graduating from Sheridan High School, she moved to Laramie to attend the University of Wyoming (UW), where she majored in finance and minored in management, decision science, and honors. While at UW, Heath interned at IMPACT 307, a business incubator that connected her to many start-ups and entrepreneurs. At IMPACT 307, she developed the Wyoming Young Entrepreneur Pitch Challenge with the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance.
After graduating from UW, Heath moved to Cheyenne, where she worked with the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance, helping develop financial literacy, college and career readiness, and entrepreneurship initiatives for youth across the state. In early 2022, Heath relocated to Orlando, Florida, where she was an intern for the Disney College Program.
“Heather’s commitment to the arts, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her love of Wyoming make her a great fit for Ucross,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “She joins us at a pivotal moment in our organization, as we prepare to celebrate our 40th year as an artist residency program, and as we plan and raise funds for the next 40 years.”
Heath looks forward to meeting community members during the inaugural Ucross Founder’s Day on June 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; details about the open house event are here.
Ucross and Cave Canem have joined forces to present a literary fellowship that provides creative support to Black poets. The 2022 Toi Derricotte Residency at Ucross has been awarded to interdisciplinary poet S. Erin Batiste of Brooklyn, New York.
Presented once a year to an emerging or mid-career poet, the fellowship offers a four-week residency, which consists of uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef, and the experience of the majestic High Plains on Ucross’s 20,000-acre ranch in northern Wyoming. The award also includes a $1,000 cash prize and a $1,000 Ucross stipend to defray travel costs.
“Ucross is deeply honored to work with Cave Canem to expand support to Black poets,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “We look forward to sharing the gift of uninterrupted time and space with S. Erin Batiste this fall through the Toi Derricotte Residency at Ucross.”
The fellowship is named for the award-winning writer Toi Derricotte, who was a Ucross Fellow in 1995 and went on to cofound Cave Canem with Cornelius Eady in 1996. Over the past 25 years, Cave Canem has nurtured nearly 500 Black poets who have gone on to publish acclaimed works, win prestigious awards, and become valued educators throughout the nation.
“Cave Canem is delighted to be in partnership with Ucross to offer this residency opportunity to its Fellowship, created in honor of our beloved cofounder Toi Derricotte,” said Cave Canem Executive Director Lisa Willis. “We are excited that Batiste has been selected and will be able to further cultivate her poetic craft as a result of this valuable experience.”
Batiste is the author of the chapbook Glory to All Fleeting Things. She is a 2022 Tin House Debut 40 Writer in Residence and SWWIM Writer in Residence. Her work has been nominated for Pushcart, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net awards; it has been exhibited in New York, is anthologized, and appears in Interim, Magma, Michigan Quarterly Review and wildness, among other decorated journals. She is also a reader for The Rumpus.
Batiste is the third poet to receive the Toi Derricotte Residency at Ucross, which launched with a pilot program in 2020.
“Ucross makes room for the wild silence we all need in order to live more courageously into our voices,” said inaugural Fellow Karma Mayet Johnson, an acclaimed writer and performer.
"I'm thankful for the partnership between Ucross and Cave Canem,” said Darrel Alejandro Holnes, the 2021 Fellow, whose book, Stepmotherland, has received many accolades since its publication in February. “(Cave Canem) is a home for Black poetry, and I'm so grateful that the home space includes the beautiful Ucross Foundation.”
In recognition of the centennial anniversary of its late founder, Raymond Plank, Ucross will host its inaugural Ucross Founder’s Day event for the public on Saturday, June 4, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The community is invited to tour the artist residency campus, get a behind-the-scenes look at the studio spaces, meet artists, and enjoy a picnic outside of the historic Big Red Ranch House. The event will conclude with a tribute to Plank; a preview of the Ucross Art Gallery, which is currently undergoing renovation; and a major announcement about Ucross’s 40th Anniversary plans.
“This is a rare opportunity to explore Ucross’s artist studio spaces and the grounds of the campus,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “We hope the community will join us for a fun afternoon that will honor Raymond Plank’s legacy and celebrate our vision for the future.”
Plank, born on May 29, 1922, grew up on his family farm in Minnesota. He entered Yale University in September 1940 but left just three months later, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserves. During World War II, he piloted B-24 bombers, completed 40 combat missions, and earned numerous commendations. After the war, Plank went on to graduate from Yale; form an accounting and tax service; and eventually co-found and become chairman and CEO of Apache Corporation, which was based in Minneapolis and is now based in Houston, Texas.
In 1981, Plank founded Ucross Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and the residency program welcomed its first artists in 1983. In the four decades since, the program has developed into one of the most respected artist communities in the nation. More than 2,500 visual artists, writers, choreographers, and composers have been to Ucross, benefiting from its uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, and meals by a professional chef, as well as the experience of the majestic High Plains. Many alumni have gone on to earn national recognition, including 11 Pulitzer Prizes, nine MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships, nine National Book Awards, nine Tony Awards, two Academy Awards, and more.
Passionate about Wyoming, its land, and its strong sense of community, Plank maintained and cherished his home in Ucross for more than 40 years. He led the Ucross board to establish a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy on more than half of the 20,000-acre Ucross Ranch and spearheaded the creation of The Park at Ucross, which includes the interdenominational Ucross Chapel, the Johansen Memorial Gardens, and the Raymond Plank Center. Plank passed away in November 2018 at age 96.
During Ucross Founder’s Day, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the community will be able to visit the studios of composer Anahita Abbasi of San Diego, California; photographer and curator Keith Davis of Sheridan, Wyoming; and poet Adele Williams of Houston, Texas. Ucross will also open the doors to the Big Red Ranch House, built in the late 19th century. One of the oldest standing structures in Sheridan County, the Ranch House is included in the National Registry of Historic Places and now houses staff offices.
The Sheridan-based food truck Stoked will be onsite slinging wood-fired pizzas, or guests are welcome to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the lawn outside of the Ranch House.
At 1 p.m., attendees will gather outside of the Big Red Barn, which houses the Ucross Art Gallery, to honor Plank’s legacy and be the first to hear a major announcement about the organization’s future.
Parking is limited, and carpooling is encouraged. Tickets are free, open to all and available here.
Ucross, a renowned artist residency program and creative laboratory for the arts in Wyoming, and The Blank Theatre, a Los Angeles institution celebrating 31 years of imaginative theatre, today announced the winner of the second annual Ucross + The Blank Theatre Future of Playwriting Prize, a one-of-a-kind award for early-career playwrights nationwide. Ucross and The Blank are partnering to showcase the importance of emerging artists across the country and to celebrate the innovative work that is asking questions and evolving theatre as we know it.
The 2022 winner is Katherine Gwynn. Two additional finalists, Andrew Siañez-De La O and Gage Tarlton, will each receive a $500 cash prize. The winner and cash prize finalists were chosen by The Blank Jury (Tamadhur Al-Aqeel, Boni B. Alvarez, Ryan Bergmann, Beth Bigler, Jose Casas, Michelle Flowers-Taylor, Prince Gomolvilas, Sigrid Gilmer, Daniel Henning, Joshua Lamont, Amir Levi, Penelope Lowder, Annie McGrath, Angela Oh, Bree Pavey, Zander Pryor, Lee Sherman, Tamika Simpkins, Cece Tio, Jamila Webb, Jennie Webb, Betsy Zajko, and Prize Program Director Kila Kitu), in consultation with representatives of Ucross, funders Deb and Ed Koehler and the Raymond N. Plank Philanthropy Fund.
Gwynn will receive a cash award of $5,000, a professionally produced staged reading in The Blank Theatre’s Living Room Series (a new play development program), and a two-week residency at Ucross’s 20,000-acre ranch at the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.
Gwynn (they/she) is a queer CODA Midwestern playwright, dramaturg, teaching artist, and producer who writes at the intersections of gender, queerness, disability, faith, and tenderness. They won the 2015 Jane Chambers Student Playwriting Award and finished in second place for the EMOS Ecodrama Playwrights Festival (2022). Their work has been developed and produced by The New Coordinates, The Great Plains Theatre Conference, Terra Femina Collective, Commission Theatre, The Fishtank, and Rockhurst University. Finalist for Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference (2021), Playwrights Realm Scratchpad Series (2021), Bay Area Playwrights Festival (2018), Parity Productions Commission (2020), New Works Festival at Kitchen Dog Theater (twice), and LezPlay (2019). Three-time semi-finalist for Bay Area Playwrights Festival; semi-finalist for Story Theatre Resident Playwright, Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship (2019), and Ashland Play Festival (2019). Gwynn was a two-time invitee for Submission to the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Their play All I Wanna Do is Be Pretty Like You is currently being developed by The New Coordinates, and they are a playwright for the Jackalope Theatre’s Living Newspaper Festival (2022). Born in Kansas City, Gwynn now lives in Chicago.
Andrew Siañez-De La O (he/they) is a Mexican American stage and audio dramatist from El Paso, Texas. Blending magic and science fiction, his stage work often centers on his borderland culture, whether as a more whimsical examination of border heritages and indigenous roots (The Ortiz Twins Are Coming Home, Pipeline Theatre Company, NYC) or a darker, more pointed examination of a separation policy’s effect on children (Borderline, Echo Theater Company, LA). His work has explored the pressure placed on first-and-second-generation children of immigrants (Sangre Mía, Playwrights Realm, NYC). His writing has been developed across the country at Stages Houston, Fresh Ink Theatre, Milagro Theatre, Company One, and others. He is a committee member for the WGA Audio Alliance, helping to build a more equitable future for creators of audio drama. He is a scriptwriter for the Latinx children’s fiction podcast Timestorm with Cocotazo Media, and his play The Ortiz Twins Are Coming Home is currently being adapted for audio in partnership with Stormfire Productions. He has also begun work on his first young adult fantasy novel.
Gage Tarlton is a queer Gen Z theatre writer and artist, originally from North Carolina and now living in Brooklyn, NY. He holds a BA in Dramatic Arts from UNC-Chapel Hill and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. His plays include exercise your demons: a play on the trauma of a gay male body (Victory Gardens Ignition New Play Festival), sons that wear dresses and mothers that love sweet potatoes (PlayMakers Repertory Company's Making Tracks Reading Series, The Kennedy Center Playwriting Workshop, finalist for The Parsnip Ship Season Six: Queer Theater, semifinalist for the 2020 O'Neill’s NPC and 2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and Distinguished Achievement from KCACTF), and XXPonyBoyDerekXX. His first short film The Homiesexuals: a social media tragedy will be released in 2022. He is also a co-writer of the Broadway virtual experiences Our Offering and its sequel A Christmas Offering, both created by Sis. He is a 2019 Kennedy Center Playwriting Fellow, a 2021 finalist for Art House Productions' INKubator New Play Program, and a 2020 finalist and 2021 semi-finalist for the Echo Theater Company’s National Young Playwrights in Residence.
At Ucross, artists in residence experience an inspiring combination of solitude and community, with expansive time for private work, as well as lively exchanges at group dinners with fellow artists. Facilities include visual arts studios, writers’ studios, and composers’ studios, and a large space suitable for dance and theatre collaborations.
Ucross first began welcoming artists in 1983. Over the past four decades, Ucross has provided more than 2,500 residencies to established and emerging artists. Ucross provides a platform that nurtures and supports artists, many on the eve of major career breakouts. Ucross has been home to 11 Pulitzer Prizes, nine MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships, nine National Book Awards, nine Tony Awards, two Academy Awards, and more. Alumni include Billy Porter, Colson Whitehead, Yaa Gyasi, Annie Proulx, Terry Tempest Williams, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Ricky Ian Gordon, and Adam Guettel.
The Blank was founded in 1990 by Daniel Henning, and the theatre’s over 70 mainstage productions have won 13 LA Drama Critics Circle Awards, eight LA Weekly Awards, five LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, four NAACP Awards, 20 Back Stage Garland Awards, four BroadwayWorld Awards, and hundreds of other nominations. Named "One of the Best Theatre Companies in America" by the Drama League, The Blank was honored by the LA City Council and won the Hollywood Arts Council's Award “for pursuing artistic excellence and nurturing the next generation of playwrights.”
Ucross + The Blank Theatre Future of Playwriting Prize is made possible by Deb and Ed Koehler and the Raymond N. Plank Philanthropy Fund.
Ucross’s spring session is in full swing. From February 7 through June 3, 56 artists from a variety of disciplines will be in residence at the historic 20,000-acre ranch in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains in northern Wyoming.
“We are always energized when artists arrive on campus,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “It’s an honor to support these accomplished individuals in their creative work and to introduce many of them to our vast Wyoming landscape.”
Notable Ucross Fellows this session include award-winning poet Victoria Chang of Torrance, California; PEN/Hemingway Award-winner Kawai Strong Washburn of Minneapolis, Minnesota; Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Laurie Lewis of Berkeley, California; acclaimed experimental choreographer Sam Kim of Brooklyn, New York; and animator and filmmaker Kelly Sears of Denver, Colorado, whose films have been screened at Sundance, South by Southwest, American Film Institute, Los Angeles Film Festival, and MoMA.
Residencies range from two to six weeks, with 10 artists in residence at one time. Ucross Fellows receive uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef, and the unparalleled experience of the majestic High Plains. To increase access to the program, Ucross provides fellows with a $1,000 stipend to defray the cost of travel and other expenses.
“My time at Ucross has deeply nourished me — the land, the well-appointed spaces, the scrumptious food, the brilliant community of artists, and the long days with nothing to do but write,” said author Amy Hassinger. “Totally transformative.”
This session’s artists will travel to Wyoming from across the United States, as well as Toronto, Canada, and London, England. The roster includes general Ucross residents who applied through the open call for artists; recipients of the Ucross Fellowships for Native American Visual Artists and Writers; and residents joining the program through partnerships with the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University, the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Sundance Institute, and University of Houston’s MFA in Creative Writing Program.
The Spring 2022 Ucross Fellows are:
Since Ucross’s first residencies were awarded in 1983, more than 2,500 artists have received the gift of time and space. Distinguished Fellows include Annie Proulx, Terry Tempest Williams, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Ricky Ian Gordon, Bill Morrison, Theaster Gates, Anthony Hernandez, and Tayari Jones. Recent National Book Award winners Susan Choi, Sigrid Nunez, and Sarah M. Broom have been residents, as have Academy Award and Tony winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Emmy Award winner Billy Porter, recent Pulitzer Prize winners Michael R. Jackson and Colson Whitehead, and current United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.
Ucross ushered in a new era of leadership this month. On April 1, William Belcher took the helm as President, and he has appointed Vickie Abbott as Managing Director. Ensuring a smooth transition, former Ucross President Sharon Dynak will continue with the organization part-time as a Creative Advisor.
Belcher has dedicated his career to working with cultural organizations that support artists and the creation of new work. He served as Ucross’s Director of Development and External Relations for four years and brings more than 20 years of experience in art administration with high-level positions in development.
“Over the last four years, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Sharon and the Ucross team, and of course, I’ve had the honor of working with so many amazing Ucross artists,” Belcher said. “It’s a special place, and I’m honored to take on this leadership role at such an important and exciting time in the organization’s history.”
Prior to Ucross, Belcher served as Director of Development at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and Director of External Affairs at The Hyde Collection. As a consultant, he helped dozens of arts organizations with strategic planning, campaign planning, grant writing, fundraising, institutional messaging, and board development. His clients have included the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Skidmore College, Collar Works (Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency Program), and others. He has served on the boards of Caffe Lena, a historic folk music venue, and Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education, a community art center. Belcher is also a published novelist whose debut novel, Lay Down Your Weary Tune, was released by Other Press in 2016.
To oversee the day-to-day operations, Belcher has appointed Vickie Abbott as the Managing Director. A longtime friend of the organization, Abbott managed the neighboring guest ranch, the Ranch at UCross, for the past 14 years with her husband, Eric Wilhelm. Previously, Abbott taught in public schools for 22 years — including a stint in Western Australia. She also served on the board of the Park County Arts Council to bring the arts to rural Wyoming schools.
“Born and raised on a Wyoming ranch and having spent most of my life living and working in rural Wyoming, I’ve come to value the solace and the simple and clear thinking that come from spending time in wide open spaces,” Abbott said. “I’m looking forward to combining my skills and passions and sharing this wild, fragile vastness of the west with the artists who will spend time on our Wyoming ranch.”
Over the past three months, Belcher and Abbott worked closely with the previous Ucross President, Sharon Dynak, to ensure a smooth transition of leadership. In her position as Creative Advisor, Dynak aims to support Belcher, Abbott, and the staff.
“We thank Sharon for her many years of leadership, her dedication, and her vision. Her leadership was inspiring, and we’re grateful that she’ll continue to serve Ucross as Creative advisor,” Belcher said. “Also, I want to welcome Vickie, and I look forward to working with her and the staff to ensure Ucross’s continued success.”