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The Ucross Foundation is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a gala event

Ucross Foundation above ground view
Ucross Foundation
The Big Red Barn (center right) houses the Ucross Foundation Art Gallery and dance studio (center left) offer artists in a variety of disciplines to work, practice, and showcase their talents during residencies that offer uninterrupted time.

The Ucross Foundation is hosting a gala event this fall in celebration of the artist residency program’s 40th anniversary. Scheduled for September 27, the event will include the presentation of the Outstanding Patrons of the Arts Award to Gov. Mark Gordon and First Lady Jennie Gordon.

“[It’s], sort of a capstone event to our 40th anniversary celebration, which we started with a campaign [in 2021 and] continued with Joy Harjo in Sheridan, and now we'll have a big community event,” said Ucross president William Belcher. “Hopefully we'll raise money to support our artists residency program and land stewardship initiatives and community events.”

Ucross is celebrating the 40th anniversary of their artist’s residency program throughout this year, which coincides with their fundraising campaign that’s set to conclude at the end of 2023. The goal is to raise $5 million to continue to offer artists in a variety of disciplines the opportunity to experience uninterrupted time to work on their projects. Since they welcomed their first artists in 1983, around 2,600 artists have participated. Approximately 115 artists are hosted each year.

“It takes about $12,000 per artist for a four-week residency, and that [includes costs for] staff, support, utilities costs, food costs, lodging costs, and as well as an honorarium that we give them, so it's not without cost.” Belcher said.

Ucross is expecting anywhere from 200-240 people to attend the event in the fall, which will be hosted on the grounds as well as indoors at their recently opened dance studio. This is the first gala event that Ucross has hosted in Wyoming, though others have been held in New York City and Houston.

“Because Raymond [Plank, the founder of Ucross] was in a lot of different areas and was a visionary in a lot of different areas, so we didn't want to just make it for the arts or just make it for business, we wanted to make it broad,” he said. “Our first award [of the Raymond Plank Award for Visionary Leadership] we gave in 2019, we gave in Houston, and [then U.S.] Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accepted that award, and then the second award, which was supposed to be given in 2021 [but was postponed due to the pandemic], was to Jim Nelson, our longtime chair, and a founding trustee of the foundation.”

Former Ucross alumni are also set to discuss how their time at Ucross impacted them as artists, with others performing during the event.

“[They will] talk about their experience that Ucross, what two or four, six weeks meant to them and their work and their creative process and their career,” Belcher said. “I think that helps tell [and] sort of illuminate what our mission means beyond just the words on the page or on our website.”

Ucross will welcome a group of 10 artists beginning the first week of August.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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