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Rhode Island composers who dream of having the resources to push their craft to the next level have until Sept. 14 to apply for $25,000 fellowships from the Rhode Island Foundation. The grants are considered to be among the largest no-strings-attached awards available to songwriters in the United States.
 
The Foundation will award grants to as many as three emerging or mid-career composers through its Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund. The awards are intended to free them to concentrate time on the creative process, focus on personal or professional development, expand their body of work and explore new directions.
  
“This support will permit local musicians to spend more time focusing on their work rather than trying to make ends meet. These fellowships reflect the importance our donors placed on nurturing the presence of practicing artists in the community,” said Jenny Pereira, the Foundation’s vice president of grant programs.
 
Previous recipients of composing fellowships include Jeff Prystowsky, is the co-founder of the popular local folk/indie band The Low Anthem; Jacob Richman, whose creative work focuses on unique performance settings and mixtures of composition for live performers, media arts, and site-specific installations; and Kirsten Volness, whose musical style integrates complex contrapuntal textures, drones, resonance and organic development of ideas with strong influences from indie rock, electronic music and jazz idioms.
 
According to Richmond, his fellowship gave him more than just the resources to devote more time to his music.
 
“Being selected was a vote of confidence in my work as an artist. It was very humbling to know that other people believe in and support your creativity.  It opened my eyes to what was possible if you keep working hard on your dreams, and if you stay true to who you are as an artist,” he said.
 
Applicants must have been legal residents of Rhode Island for at least 12 months prior to the Sept. 14 deadline. High school students, college and graduate students who are enrolled in a degree-granting program and writers who have advanced levels of career achievement are not eligible.
 
Applicants will be judged on the quality of their work samples, artistic development and the creative contribution to the visual arts, as well as the potential of the fellowship to advance their career. Applications will be accepted from visual artists creating new original work in any genre, including film, sculpture, painting and photography.
 
Although the fellowships are unrestricted, recipients are expected to devote concentrated time to their art and to engage in activities that further their artistic growth. Examples include creating new work, training in technologies or techniques, purchasing equipment, travel, research and developing artistic endeavors.
 
The recipients will be selected by a panel of out-of-state jurors who are recognized practicing artists and arts professionals. For more information about applying for a MacColl Johnson Fellowship, visit rifoundation.org.