Ucross, Sheridan County’s retreat for creatives, is raising funds to renovate its art gallery and build a new dance studio and performance space.
The group began accepting private donations for the projects in 2021. It has already withdrawn $2.8 million from its $5 million goal, according to a Saturday press release. Ucross plans to spend the next year and a half raising the next $2.2 million.
Ucross sits on 20,000 acres near Buffalo at the base of the Bighorn Mountains. It is known for its artist residency program, which attracts creatives looking for a peaceful place to work and reflect with their peers.
It can accommodate 10 residents at a time – typically four writers, four visual artists and two music composers. Around 100 artists are selected for the program week each year.
The new performing arts building would be built in the middle of Ucross campus, right next to its art gallery. The organization plans to connect the two structures through a glass corridor, according to the statement. The new building would include a dance studio, as well as a patio and outdoor performance space.
The retreat hopes the addition will attract more dancers and performers to its campus.
Ucross also plans to revamp the interior of its art gallery, called the “Big Red Barn”. This includes a two-story open space at its center, which will accommodate larger works of art like sculptures and installations, according to the press release. It will also have a digital media room, art storage, kitchen, new office and meeting space. The organization expects the gallery to host two or three public exhibitions a year.
Fundraising donations will also help support Ucross’s artist residency program.
Last year, Ucross began paying resident artists a stipend to make up for travel expenses and income they miss while they’re there. The organization plans to use the fundraiser to continue this program, as well as to pay for related expenses like new studio equipment.
Ucross is also raising funds to expand its public events, the statement said. It hosts its first arts festival on August 22. The free event will include an art giveaway and live music.
The retreat turned 40 on Saturday.
During the event, Ucross President and Executive Director William Belcher announced that American poet Joy Harjo would visit the campus in February. She will host a number of events during her stay, including a craft conference at Sheridan College and an evening of poetry and music at the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center. Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Nation, is in his third term as Poet Laureate. She is the first Native American to hold the title.
Belcher became president and executive director of Ucross in April. Sharon Dynak, who previously held the position for 25 years, announced her retirement earlier this year.
In June 2021, Ucross hosted the first Native American Art Curatorial Convening, bringing together Native American art curators from across the country. According to the Ucross website, the arts group will spend the next two years working to increase Indigenous representation in museums and the visual arts; developing new standards for Aboriginal art collections; and promoting mentorship of Native American arts professionals and curators. The Native American Art Curatorial Convening received a $47,000 grant from the Warhol Foundation in January.