VCCA Announces New Endowed Fellowship Honoring Anne Spencer

Two generations of Harrises and Hesters: Elizabeth Logan Harris, Jordan Hester, Shaun Spencer-Hester, Isabella Ronchetti, Savia Ronchetti, Lyall Forsyth Harris, Frankie Slaughter

On Sunday, February 4, 2018, VCCA announced the establishment of a new Fellowship, honoring Anne Spencer, noted poet, teacher, civil rights activist, librarian, gardener, and longtime Lynchburg resident. Made possible by a generous gift from Lyall Forsyth Harris of Charlottesville, VA, Frankie Slaughter of Richmond, VA, and Elizabeth Logan Harris of New York, NY, the Anne Spencer Fellowship will provide an annual residency at VCCA to an African-American visual artist, writer, or composer. During the residency, the Anne Spencer Fellow will engage with the Anne Spencer Memorial Foundation Inc., in Lynchburg, VA.

VCCA and guests celebrated the endowed fellowship with a reception at its Mt. San Angelo location. Shaun Spencer-Hester, granddaughter of Anne Spencer and Executive Director of The Anne Spencer Memorial Foundation, noted “the Harris and Spencer families have worked together towards preserving Anne Spencer’s legacy since the founding days of The Anne Spencer Memorial Foundation in 1977 and I am enthusiastic to represent the foundation and to continue the Harris/Spencer family relationship with Elizabeth, Lyall and Frankie. Together, we honor both families dedication in nurturing and supporting the arts. I am equally pleased to work with the VCCA in developing programs which engage artists, writers and composers to blossom, furthering  Anne Spencer’s vision to nurture all people through the arts and education.” 

Elizabeth Logan Harris
Donor and VCCA Board of Directors member Elizabeth Logan Harris also made remarks. "It is with great pleasure and gratitude that my sisters and I are establishing the Anne Spencer Fellowship,” Harris said. “By supporting the work of African-American Fellows, we wish to honor Spencer's significant legacy and enhance VCCA's mission. We are also delighted that Anne Spencer Fellows will help strengthen VCCA's ties to Lynchburg, our hometown community." 

VCCA Executive Director, Joy Peterson Heyrman, believes that Anne Spencer’s lasting artistic impact derives both from her inspiring body of work as a poet and from the creative community she assembled around her from near and far. “Much like Anne Spencer, VCCA is committed to providing space and opportunity to unleash the power of creativity,” states Heyrman. “The Anne Spencer Fellowship honors a lasting artistic legacy and will give artists the opportunity to create important new work and to bring it to the Lynchburg community in inspiring ways. We are deeply grateful to Lyall, Frankie and Elizabeth Harris for their philanthropy and for their commitment to the writers, visual artists, and composers who are our future Anne Spencer Fellows.”

A performance by the Randolph College Heritage Ensemble with the leadership of Hiawatha Johnson, Jr., of Anne Spencer poems set to music, interspersed with Shaun Hester's readings, capped the program and brought down the house.

The fellowship will rotate annually between the genres served at VCCA: writing, visual arts, and musical composition. Experts in those fields will jury all applications and the selection will be made based on the quality of the work. Applications for the inaugural Anne Spencer Fellowship will open this summer to writers, both locally and nationally, with a deadline of September 15, 2018. The inaugural Anne Spencer Fellow will be announced in January 2019.

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