The MacDowell Colony
November 14, 2005 10:44 AM   Subscribe

"The spiritual, physical, intellectual, social or economic well-being of the general public".
Within the MacDowell Colony's rustic stone and clapboard cottages, Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town, Aaron Copland composed Appalachian Spring and Dubose and Dorothy Heyward wrote Porgy and Bess. Jonathan Franzen finished writing The Corrections and Alice Sebold worked on The Lovely Bones. For decades, the town considered the colony a tax-exempt charitable organization. Not anymore.
posted by matteo (9 comments total)

 
For decades, the town considered the colony a tax-exempt charitable organization. But after reviewing similar groups from the hospital to the historical society, the Board of Selectmen decided the colony no longer is eligible for the exemption.

State law defines a charitable organization as one that advances "the spiritual, physical, intellectual, social or economic well-being of the general public or a substantial and indefinite segment of the general public that includes residents of the state of New Hampshire."

The MacDowell Colony certainly benefits its artists-in-residence, but "that doesn't strike us as being the general public," said Bob Derosier, one of the town's lawyers.
posted by matteo at 10:45 AM on November 14, 2005


Artists index, 1907-2004
posted by matteo at 10:47 AM on November 14, 2005


And Richard Price wrote The Breaks there. (although that book contains a darkly hilarious anecdote about an artists colony, so one can't help but wonder how it worked out for him).
posted by jonmc at 10:48 AM on November 14, 2005


The benefits go to society in general, which gains from the creation of art, and of course the artists who get paid for their creations. All wonderful, but it doesn't explain why their immediate neighbors are expected to be the only ones to pay for the colony's services.

The good is general, the burden is local. In effect the colony is expecting enforced contributions from its neighbors to save it from having to do more general fundraising.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 11:33 AM on November 14, 2005


My girl Marcy, who went to MacDowell before writing Twins, says that the artists do a lot of local work for the community. The article mentions this, too: "the colony already provides programs worth more than what the town asked for, including workshops in the schools and monthly discussions led by the artists-in-residence." In short: this sucks.
posted by muckster at 1:21 PM on November 14, 2005


Both sides have good arguments, but since our country is capitalistic, you have to pay for everything. It won't stop or shut down the colony, the organization will just have to work a little harder or expect their clients to donate a little more.
posted by cleverusername at 1:40 PM on November 14, 2005


Ah, tax-free New Hampster! When the only place you can get any revenue (besides an 8% meals tax and tolls from folks driving to Maine) is property taxes, this kind of thing happens.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:21 PM on November 14, 2005


random: matteo, you don't happen to live near lowell, do you?

(good post)
posted by es_de_bah at 8:10 PM on November 14, 2005


no, unfortunately I don't, I just visited once a few years ago.
and, thanks.
posted by matteo at 6:38 AM on November 15, 2005


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