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Calderwood Grant Challenge Supports Writers of Long-Form Journalism

Press Release - March 17, 2015

Type: Press Releases, Artist News, Fellowships

MacDowell Fellow Sheri Fink was in Liberia in 2014 reporting on the Ebola outbreak from a treatment center. (Stuart Sia/International Medical Corps photo)

MacDowell Fellow Sheri Fink was in Liberia in 2014 reporting on the Ebola outbreak from a treatment center. (Stuart Sia/International Medical Corps photo) (Stuart Sia photo)

MacDowell launches Art of Journalism Initiative dedicated to narrative reporting.

A new initiative at MacDowell, the nation’s first artist residency program, will double the number of fellowships for writers engaged in deep reporting and complex, long-form journalism. By giving journalists studio space and uninterrupted time in a stimulating and creative artistic community, MacDowell’s Art of Journalism Initiative will invest $4.5 million in helping today’s groundbreaking writers develop their best work. In an era of fast news and free access, writers often struggle to support themselves while preparing stories that can take months, and sometimes years, to complete.

The Calderwood Charitable Foundation has committed a lead gift of $1.5 million, including a $1 million challenge grant, which – when matched by $1 million in new funding over the next three years – will endow 10 new journalism fellowships to be awarded by a competitive application process. Stanford Calderwood, a newspaperman in his youth who later went on to establish an investment firm, was a lover of nonfiction and was a member of MacDowell’s Board of Directors.

Overall, the Art of Journalism Initiative will raise a total of $4.5 million in support of creative nonfiction. This national program was begun when MacDowell’s Board of Directors designated three nonfiction fellowships in honor of long-time MacDowell Board Member Anne Cox Chambers, primary owner of media conglomerate Cox Enterprises that grew from the family owned newspaper business.

In addition, the Calderwood Fund for Project Grants to Journalism Fellows, supported by a grant of $500,000, will provide participating writers with grants of up to $2,500 based on financial need to fund travel, research, and other project-based work before or after the residency. These grants are designed to help the growing number of independent journalists and mitigate the impact of diminishing budgets for long-form journalism at media and publishing outlets.

“We believe that long-form journalism can and will survive in the new publishing era. With a global audience and journalism schools burgeoning with talented writers, long-form is undergoing a renaissance,” says MacDowell’s Executive Director Cheryl Young. “However, the reality is that this generation will have difficulty finding full-time employment.”

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“Until new commercial models are in place, residencies can help. We don’t want to lose what the best journalists can teach us about the world,” Young adds. “Well-written stories can inform how we view politics, new scientific discoveries, social justice, and the environment. We hope this new support for journalists will help keep that profound exploration going and make the world a better place.”

MacDowell has supported some of the finest voices in non-fiction for decades, from the essays of James Baldwin to Frances Fitzgerald’s investigations into the Vietnam War. More recently, journalists such as Sheri Fink, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nicholas Dawidoff, William Finnegan, and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc have worked at the residency early in their careers. With the Art of Journalism Initiative, MacDowell plans to reach deeper into the nonfiction community by forming relationships with magazines, publishers, media outlets, and journalism schools.

Journalists are encouraged to apply for fellowships here or by writing