Ucross, WY — April 28, 2021 — Ucross, the renowned artist residency program, today announced its Ucross Spotlight spring calendar, featuring virtual events with acclaimed artists, authors, and journalists, including visual artist Karen Kitchel; art writer Leah Ollman (The Los Angeles Times, Art in America); acclaimed authors Joshua Ferris and Ottessa Moshfegh. Aura Estrada Prize Founder, Co-Director, and New Yorker contributing writer Francisco Goldman; writer and Aura Estrada Co-Director Gabriela Jauregui; and 2019 Aura Estrada Prize winner Natalia Trigo kicked off the spring series on April 22. The Aura Estrada Prize is given biannually to young female writers living in Mexico or the U.S. whose work is written in Spanish.
Ucross Spotlight, which started as a nationwide series of in-person, artist-centric events, is designed to bring diverse audiences together to celebrate Ucross’ esteemed alumni, their work, and their contribution to the nation's arts and letters. The first Ucross Spotlight, held in 2019 at Playwrights Horizons, welcomed Ucross Fellows and award-winning playwrights Michael R. Jackson and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Ucross Fellow and Tony/Emmy Award-winning actor Billy Porter, and choreographer Raja Feather Kelly. Since the pandemic, Ucross has transitioned the series to an online forum, hosting eight events to date that have reached thousands of viewers across Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube.
Fifteen Ucross Fellows have been highlighted in the Spotlight series, including Ucross Native American Fellow Brendan Basham; artist and performer Anthony Hudson (Carla Rossi); musician Toshi Reagon; novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar; journalist and author Suki Kim; writer Natalie Goldberg; visual artist Susan York; performance artist, writer, and visual artist John Kelly; musicians Daniel and Patrick Lazour; composer Ricky Ian Gordon; singer Nathan Gunn; musician Beth McIntosh; choreographer Michael McGowan and Flight Path Dance Project; singer-songwriter Kate Schutt; and writer Sherwin Bitsui.
On June 10, Ucross Spotlight will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ucross and PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel partnership with two PEN/Hemingway winners Joshua Ferris (2008) and Ottessa Moshfegh (2016) who are also Ucross Fellows. Ucross participates in a number of partnerships with national organizations that enhance its ability to support outstanding individual artists with residencies.
Upcoming Ucross Spotlight virtual event dates are:
May 20 — Karen Kitchel and Leah Ollman
June 10 — Joshua Ferris and Ottessa Moshfegh
To register for the free online events, visit Ucross.org.
In the current climate, Ucross’s role as a sanctuary and source of support for artists is more important than ever. The unemployment rate for musicians is 27.1 percent, 52.3 percent for actors, and 54.6 percent for dancers and choreographers, according to a January report from the National Endowment for the Arts.
“At a time when so many artists are struggling, all of us at Ucross are doing our part to keep morale high and showcase the breadth and depth of the inspiring artistic work happening across the country,” said Sharon Dynak, President and Executive Director, Ucross. “We want to amplify the important conversations happening in our culture and offer new possibilities for connection.”
In addition to Ucross Spotlight, the residency program has welcomed back artists to its spectacular 20,000-acre ranch in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains with new Covid protocols in place. For spring 2021, 29 artists, working in a variety of disciplines, including visual art, writing, music, and dance, are receiving uninterrupted time, studio space, and living accommodations at Ucross. As part of its continued commitment to support artists, the program is offering $1,000 stipends to every incoming resident for the first time.
Since its first residencies in 1983, more than 2,500 artists have received the gift of time and space at Ucross. 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 (Pulitzer Prize in Drama, 2020) are just a few of the acclaimed works that have been created in part during Ucross residencies.
Ucross’s 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. Last year, 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).