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MacDowell’s “Colony Hall,” Peterborough, New Hampshire.

MacDowell Colony Removes “Colony” from Name

On Tuesday, the board of the century-old artists’ retreat formerly known as the MacDowell Colony voted to drop the word Colony from its name. Founded in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1907 by composer Edward MacDowell and his wife, the pianist Marian MacDowell, the program offers artists and writers temporary residency in its private studios. According to the New York Times, pressure for change from MacDowell fellows as well as the larger arts community culminated in a staff-led petition to officially alter the institution’s name (prior to the decision, the word Colony was rarely used internally). In an interview with the Associated Press, MacDowell board chair Nell Painter—the first Black person to hold the position—discussed how colony, which can describe either a “country or given location under the control of an outside power” or “a community of like-minded people,” nevertheless implies an air of exclusion incompatible with the program’s mission. Colony Hall, where fellows gather for dinner each night, will also be renamed.

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