Renaissance House Retreat for Writers and Artists in Martha's Vineyard Offers Summer Scholarship for a Parent and Child

Applications Available for a Parent and Child to Attend a Creative July 4th Week at Renaissance House Retreat in Martha's Vineyard and participate in the 2019 Frederick Douglass Reading on Inkwell Beach. The scholarship is courtesy of a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation.

Martha's Vineyard, MA, April 09, 2019 --( Renaissance House: A Retreat for Writers and Artists has received a grant from The Sustainable Arts Foundation to fund a full scholarship to a parent and their child for the week of July 4, which includes participating in the popular Frederick Douglass Reading on Inkwell Beach.

The grant includes full board, meals and programs. It is designed to give a parent the ability to complete the writing and arts program while their child attends day camp or another activity. Applications are now being accepted for scholarship and for writers and artists to attend the 2019 season.

"The retreat provides the time in which to create new works or finish existing ones. Renaissance House is one of the few retreats designed for issue-oriented writers, writers of color and writers of social justice," explained Abigail McGrath, founder and director of Renaissance House, daughter of famed poet Helene Johnson and niece of acclaimed novelist Dorothy West. "The program is offered to artists who do not have the luxury of time."

In 1999, McGrath was inspired by these famed Harlem Renaissance women writers and launched Renaissance House: A Retreat for Writers and Artists. Helene Johnson was a summer Martha's Vineyard resident, who had to stop writing to support her family. Her cousin, novelist and short story writer Dorothy West, was a year-round Martha's Vineyard island resident who worked at Harbor Side Restaurant until Jacqueline Kennedy spotted her writing in the MV Gazette and gave her the opportunity to simply "stare at the trees and do nothing." This enabled West to write "The Wedding," a best-selling novel inspired by the interracial marriage of Abigail and Tony McGrath. "The Wedding" was also produced as a television mini-series by Oprah Winfrey and starred Halle Berry.

The Sustainable Arts Foundation's Tony and Caroline Grant was bestowed for Renaissance House's commitment to helping parents gain access to the resources, community and creative time. "The ripple effect of this commitment is powerful, as it helps normalize the still radical idea of a parent artist, and makes the road a little less lonely for each one," stated the Sustainable Arts Foundation. "We are glad to partner with Renaissance House to provide not just a short-term creative opportunity, but a reminder to each resident that their work is vital, and that there are people and organizations committed to helping them make it. Finally, they are sending a clear message to non-parents that a creative life with family is possible."

At Renaissance House: A Retreat for Artists and Writers, a resident can stay for one or two weeks. Through underwriting grants from the Helene Johnson and Dorothy West Foundation for Artists in Need, Renaissance House fees are lower than most retreats for writers and artists. The rates are: $600 for a shared double and $900 for a single with a w/c and includes room, breakfast, dinner (no lunch) lectures, trips, and classes. and workshops. Arrival is on a Sunday and departure is on Saturday. There is no application fee or reading fee.

The Renaissance House program's formal sit down dinners and salons have featured talks with Martha's Vineyard residents, such as: Jill Nelson, Jessica Harris, Kate Feiffer, Susan Kline, Robert Hayden, Marty Nadler, Nat Benjamin, Shirley Craig, Brooks Robards, Janet Hill, Elisabeth Benedict, Justen Ahern, Daniel Waters, Mike West and others.

"Renaissance House admits writers to the program who span different stages in their careers—from emerging writers to notable award winners," explained McGrath. "The point of the program is to give artists "alone" time, away from their families and their jobs and the everyday chores that make up a life. Our residents have included a hotel maid who writes poetry during her lunch hour, a single mother filmmaker, a factory worker who learned Mandarin in order to write poetry in that language and a popular actress working on a screenplay. These are writers and artists who need "a room of their own."

For more information, check out the website or contact

Abigail McGrath
P.O. Box 4776
Vineyard Haven, Ma 02568
(917) 747-0367
Renaissance House Retreat for Writers & Artists
Abigail McGrath