Founded in 1900 by the financier Spencer Trask and his wife Katrina, a poet, Yaddo is an artists community located on a 400-acre estate in Saratoga Springs, New York. Its mission is to nurture the creative process by providing an opportunity for artists to work without interruption in a supportive environment.
Yaddo offers residencies to professional creative artists from all nations and backgrounds working in one or more of the following media: choreography, film, literature, musical composition, painting, performance art, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video. Artists may apply individually or as members of collaborative teams of two or three persons. They are selected by panels of other professional artists without regard to financial means. Residencies last from two weeks to two months and include room, board, and studio.
The results of the Trasks' legacy have been historic. John Cheever once wrote that the "forty or so acres on which the principal buildings of Yaddo stand have seen more distinguished activity in the arts than any other piece of ground in the English-speaking community and perhaps the world." Collectively, artists who have worked at Yaddo have won 72 Pulitzer Prizes, 27 MacArthur Fellowships, 61 National Book Awards, 24 National Book Critics Circle Awards, 108 Rome Prizes, 51 Whiting Writers' Awards, a Nobel Prize (Saul Bellow, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976), and countless other honors. Many books by Yaddo authors have been made into films. Visitors from Cheever's day include Milton Avery, James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Aaron Copland, Philip Guston, Patricia Highsmith, Langston Hughes, Ted Hughes, Alfred Kazin, Ulysses Kay, Jacob Lawrence, Sylvia Plath, Katherine Anne Porter, Mario Puzo, Clyfford Still, and Virgil Thomson.
Artists of similar brilliance come to Yaddo today - choreographers, filmmakers, and performance artists, along with those working in more traditional forms. All are chosen by panels of their peers for residencies lasting from two weeks to two months. As always, Yaddo supports the process of creativity without regard to fashion, commerce, or personal means.