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APSU, Chautauqua partner to award student residencies at New York art institution

Standing from left are Michael Dickins, APSU Art + Design gallery director; Dr. Tony Morris, APSU Art + Design chair; Dr. Janice Crews, Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts director; Barry Jones, APSU College of Arts & Letters interim dean; sitting are Dr. Rex Gandy, APSU provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Sharon Louden, artistic director of Chautauqua Institution’s Visual Arts Program.
Dr. Rex Gandy and Sharon Louden perform the celebratory signing.

Starting next year, one or two Austin Peay State University art students will spend each summer at the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution in New York, immersed in nine weeks of classes, workshops and one-on-one time with art mentors. 

And they won’t have to pay a dime. 

Chautauqua and Austin Peay entered the residency partnership in August and made the announcement on Thursday, Nov. 15, during a celebratory signing at APSU’s Art + Design Building.

“It’s an incredible opportunity,” Michael Dickins, APSU’s The New Gallery director, said. “I’m not even sure if our students grasp how unique this is, this opportunity. By coming to Austin Peay, they have an opportunity no other school in the state offers.” 

Dickins worked with Chautauqua artistic director Sharon Louden over the summer to form the partnership. On Thursday, Louden joined Dr. Rex Gandy, APSU provost and vice president for academic affairs, for the signing. 

Louden visited Austin Peay this week as part of the Department of Art + Design and the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts’ (CECA) Visiting Artist Speaker Series. She gave a public lecture and visited with students – individually and during workshops.


Austin Peay faculty and staff will select 10 students to apply for the Chautauqua residency. Applications open Dec. 1. Then Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution (VACI) faculty and Louden will invite one or two students to the residency, which runs June 22-Aug. 10, 2019. 

Students picked for the residency will receive:

Louden values the package at about $5,000. Tuition and the Chautauqua gate pass cost about $2,500. The money for the residencies will come from Art + Design's CECA funding.

The gate pass is valuable, she said, because it offers full access to the institution. 

“There are so many other things than what we offer at the School of Art,” Louden said. “We have lectures, performers, entertainers, people from all walks of life.”

Famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma visited last year, for example, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently visited.

“Access is a privilege, and we’re sharing that access,” Louden said. 

Dickins added: “The student who gets this will have this extremely rare opportunity, and it’s not going to cost them anything.”


Dickins already had invited Louden to be part of Austin Peay’s Visiting Artist Speaker Series when, while he was in New York, he visited Louden. That’s when she proposed the partnership.

“Part of my job is to create partnerships with schools to bring as many different people as possible to Chautauqua, but also people who haven’t had the opportunity to come and to be in front of the thought leaders who come to Chautauqua,” Louden said. “I’m so grateful to Michael for starting this process and working together on this.” 

Louden has been to Middle Tennessee many times and for a short time lived in Nashville.

“I knew about Austin Peay, and I loved living in Nashville, and I loved living in Tennessee,” she said. “It was pulling on my heartstrings a little bit, and I love seeing what Michael is doing here, so I said, ‘How about we get some of your students to come to Chautauqua to make this a wonderful, growing, long partnership?’” 

Louden added: “I also chose Michael – and even suggested the partnership – because I believe in the students here. I know the students here are going to be exceptional and will benefit from the Chautauqua thought leaders.” 

Louden anticipates the partnership will last years, and might grow to include APSU faculty and other departments, such as dance and theatre, both at Austin Peay and Chautauqua. 


Chautauqua Institution is a not-for-profit, 750-acre community on Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York. More than 7,500 people in residence stay during the nine-week summer session, and more than 100,000 attend the public events, according to the website. The institution has four program areas: the arts, religion, education and recreation.