Transcript: Board President Christine Fisher addresses the gathered at the July 23, 2023 Medal Day celebration
Hello everyone. I am overjoyed to be here with all of you at my first Medal Day as board president. From the moment I first learned of MacDowell, I was blown away by its unwavering dedication to artists and it is the purity of that commitment that has led me to this stage today. Because MacDowell champions artists and their creative work, I have become a champion of MacDowell. Simply put, I am here on this stage today because I believe that artists help us make meaning and sense of the world that we live in. We need these artists – and they need us.
Marian and Edward MacDowell knew this when they pioneered the idea of making a place for artists to work in a nurturing and inspiring environment, free from the distractions of everyday life, and in a community of other artists. In the 116 years since “The Peterborough Idea,” as it was once known, was conceived, almost 9,000 artists have been awarded Fellowships to MacDowell,
and today the need for these residencies is more urgent than ever.
The numbers say it all: In our most recent round of applications, we received more than 2,000 petitions for just 150 Fellowships, the second largest pool in our history. Like each cohort of Fellows who come to MacDowell, these artists represent a tremendous cross-section of backgrounds and talents, working as writers, composers, architects, playwrights, visual and inter-disciplinary artists, photographers, and filmmakers. These individuals will travel from near and far, including seven different countries and 30 different states. This group of Fellows range in age from 21 to 72. Seventy percent of them are first-time Fellows, encouraged to apply as, to quote our Madam Chairman, “we continue to work to eliminate financial, geographical, cultural and accessibility barriers to participation.” Sixty percent self-identify as artists of color. And 100 percent of them will add to the richness of experiences that artists repeatedly tell us so uniquely characterizes MacDowell.
To realize the promise of MacDowell, Marian devoted her entire life to raising money to support and sustain the residency. Those of us who share in Marian’s passionate commitment to the value of the creative arts follow in her footsteps to keep the idea alive. Donations to MacDowell, large and small, make it possible for art to be made by great talents. MacDowell doesn’t sell books or concert tickets, or charge admission, or profit from the work made here in any way. We rely solely on donations and grants so that the artwork that eventually ends up on stages, bookshelves, and on movie screens, and on albums and hanging in galleries and museums, can be made in the first place. It’s so simple and so pure.
In our midst today, we have many to thank who do, indeed, follow in Marian’s esteemed footsteps, and all of whom are listed in your programs. But I especially want to thank our lead sponsors Putnam Foundation and FL Putnam Investment Management Company [applause] and advocates Cambridge Trust of New England, Welch & Forbes, Rivermead, and New Hampshire Humanities.
I also want to give a special thank you to our top individual supporters of this day: Eleanor Briggs, Bob and Silvia Larsen, Arthur Clarke, and Susan Sloan.
As I said earlier, we need artists, and they need us. Thanks to each of you, on behalf of the artists, for your support.
Perhaps most of all, I want to thank our neighbors in Peterborough, and every single person who is here with us today. Your presence is a testament to the transformative and unifying power of art. We are so honored to be part of your community and so grateful for your unwavering support.
And now, I’d like to introduce you to another new face on the stage this year. I am very proud to say I was on the board search committee that chose this woman to lead us in the next amazing chapter at MacDowell. Please help me to welcome our new executive director, Chiwoniso Kaitano.