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Escape to Create Provides Unique Opportunity for Artists

February 19, 2012 by Joyce Owen

Since it was founded in 1993, Escape to Create has gained a reputation as an organization that attracts artists to SoWal. With two four-week residency sessions in January and February, artists from different disciplines winter in Seaside while they create new works of art.

“Our program isn’t for tourists,” Escape to Create President Marsha Dowler says. “In the summer there are events for them. Much to the delight of snowbirds that are ready for something a little different, these programs are intended to provide cultural enrichment for our winter visitors.”

The Seaside Institute established Escape to Create to provide cultural programs for the community. While Escape to Create gives artists a place to live and work, there’s more to the program that brings quality artists to our area: educational outreach, visiting artists and scholars, and arts and cultural programs.

“Every year is a different experience,” says Dowler.

The program accepts professional artists in the fields of literature, music, theatre, visual arts, architecture, scholarship and interdisciplinary arts for the multi-disciplinary residency. The organization’s goal is to support the best work and to do that Escape to Create strives to bring the best artists to this area, says Dowler.

While the impact of the program is significant, it is even more remarkable that so much is accomplished considering Escape to Create doesn’t own special studios where artists can work. Instead, thanks to the generous contributions of homeowners, each artist is provided a private cottage in Seaside and given the time to nurture ideas into realities.

The artists are encouraged to give back to the community that welcomes them. During each session there are readings, performances, lectures, exhibits, workshops and art shows.
Artists interested in residency programs often discover Escape to Create online, but many applicants learn of the program from alumni. Dowler says the connections that develop during the program continue after the residencies end. Alumni are quick to encourage friends in the art world to apply to the program.

“Artists that create these connections find us,” she says.

There are about 500 residency programs in the United States and more than 1,000 worldwide with about 15,000 artists in residence each year. Dowler is proud that the program has become so well known and well regarded that members of the Escape to Create organization have been invited by the Alliance of Artists Communities to make presentations about the Seaside program to groups trying to develop similar retreats for artists.

Dowler says the opportunity to share the success of Escape to Create is a reminder of the rare gift our community has to offer – an intimate setting, a warm and friendly welcome, and time and space for creative endeavors – all are appreciated by visiting artists.

“We are small in scale, but unique in every aspect,” she says.

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