Ucross, WY — January 26, 2021 — Ucross, the renowned artist residency program in northeast Wyoming, is pleased to announce the establishment of two new endowed fellowships with Yale University. The fellowships will provide residencies at Ucross to theatre artists, composers, and musicians from the Yale School of Drama and the Yale School of Music.
Ucross founder Raymond Plank (1922-2018) was a World War II veteran, business leader, philanthropist, and Yale alumnus. After graduating from Yale with a Bachelor of Arts degree, he formed Apache Corporation, which under his leadership, became one of the world’s leading independent oil and gas companies. Recognizing that artists need creative space and time to produce their best work, Plank established the Ucross Foundation in 1981 and initiated the foundation’s first artist residencies in 1983. Since then, more than 2,500 artists have received the gift of time and space at Ucross’s 20,000-acre working cattle ranch, located in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.
Made possible by the vision and generosity of the Raymond Plank Philanthropy Fund and Deborah and Ed Koehler of Houston, these endowed fellowships are a lasting celebration of Raymond Plank’s legacy, honoring his dedication to both his alma mater and to Ucross. The fellowships further enhance Ucross’ reputation as one of the nation’s preeminent artist residency programs, one that provides a generative experience of the contemporary American West for artists from around the world.
“I am deeply honored to continue serving Raymond’s vision and his lifelong commitment to Yale, Ucross, the arts, and nature conservation by establishing these endowed fellowships that will forge even stronger bonds between two of his loves: Yale and Ucross,” said Deborah Koehler, Ucross Trustee and the Executive Director of the Raymond Plank Philanthropy Fund.
Ucross provides uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, and the experience of the majestic High Plains of Wyoming to emerging, mid-career, and established artists in all disciplines. Through its national partnerships and its twice-yearly open call, Ucross has supported a roster of distinguished Yale alumni and faculty members, including Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright; Tony Award winning composer-lyricist Adam Guettel; playwrights Philip Himberg and Josh Wilder; composers Missy Mazzoli, Dylan Mattingly, Sam Adams, and Benjamin Velez; and many others.
“Ucross’s collaboration with Yale runs deep, from our founder Raymond Plank, to the extraordinarily talented Yale artists and alumni we’ve welcomed to our campus,” said Sharon Dynak, President and Executive Director of Ucross. “These endowed funds, and the residencies they support, will provide new ways for Ucross to foster creativity and nurture the work of some of the nation’s most promising artists.”
The Ucross / Yale fellowships will support the creative work of graduate students or faculty from the Yale School of Drama and the School of Music who are selected to receive a residency at Ucross. Residency periods will range in length from two to four weeks, based on the needs of fellowship recipients. Each fellow will also receive a travel stipend.
“Nothing would have pleased Raymond Plank more than the inauguration of these endowed fellowships that build a permanent bridge in the arts between Ucross and Yale, two institutions that Raymond loved dearly,” stated Ucross Board Chair Jim Nelson. “Along with our generous donors Deb and Ed Koehler and our entire board and staff, I look forward to welcoming artists from the Yale Schools of Music and Drama to these wide, open spaces bequeathed to us by Raymond.”
Ucross typically welcomes about 100 artists each year from a variety of creative disciplines and provides meals, accommodations, and uninterrupted time to work and create. Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love, Adam Guettel's The Light in the Piazza, Ricky Ian Gordon's operatic adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath, and Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop are just a few of the acclaimed works that have been created in part during Ucross residencies.
Ucross participates in a number of partnerships with national organizations that enhance its ability support outstanding individual artists with residencies. National partners include the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, the Whiting Foundation, the Ford Family Foundation, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the Alley Theater, UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, and others. In 2020, along with the Yale School of Drama and the Yale School of Music, Ucross forged several exciting new partnerships with an array of high-profile creative forces in the United States, including the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, Cave Canem, and The Blank Theatre (Los Angeles).