Deadline extended for Penn Center artist residency

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at 5 p.m. ET

Beaufort County’s Penn Center, one of the nation’s most important institutions of African American culture and history, invites submissions for an artist residency program.

Offered in partnership with the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia, and made possible by the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The deadline to apply for this residency is now June 1.

Applications can be made by individual artists, or by a collective in a single submission. Proposals can be in any media (visual/ sonic/ literary/ performance), but must relate to the histories and cultures of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor in contexts of the theme, “Civil Rights and Social Justice.” The residency will be held from Sept. 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, subject to pandemic safety protocols.

To be selected, projects must engage with, or partner with, one or more of the Sea Island communities. Projects may also build from material or archival holdings in Penn Center, or other relevant museums, archives, or collections. Outcomes—readings, exhibitions, performances or installations—will be mounted at Penn Center, or another suitable site, which may be in coordination with the annual Penn Center Heritage Festival.


For consideration, please submit:

  • An artist statement of up to 750 words describing your proposed project, its relationship with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, its relevance to the theme, “Civil Rights and Social Justice,” and a description of the outcome of your proposed residency
  • A personal statement of up to 500 words explaining your interest in this program
  • A digital resume, portfolio, or website
  • A draft budget, including materials, and travel costs

These materials should be submitted to Winnie Smith at by 5 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, June 1.

Artist Residency Details

Each year the artist residency offers:

  • An honorarium of up to $10,000
  • Materials and exhibition support of up to $15,000
  • Travel, accommodation, and subsistence support of up to $5,000

These costs may be shared among a group of artists if a collective application is chosen.

It is a condition of the residency that successful applicants will collaborate directly with Penn Center on project planning and orientation before their residency begins. It is further expected that successful applicants will continue to build close relationships with Penn Center, and the communities with which it connects along the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, during and after the residency.

The selection process for the artist residency will be informed by the steering committee and advisory board of Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District.


Each project must take place within one year of the award, and the outcome of each project must be open to public access through Penn Center on its completion. Each residency can last up to one month total in duration, which does not need to be consecutive so long as the project is completed within the project year. The duration of each residency will depend on the nature of the project, and we are happy to discuss flexibility in relation to other responsibilities, subject again to pandemic safety protocols.

About the Artist Residency

These artist residencies are offered as part of Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District, which is a collaboration between Penn Center and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, at the University of Georgia. Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District is funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About Penn Center

Penn Center is one of the most significant African American historical and cultural institutions in existence today. It is located on St. Helena Island, one of the most beautiful and historically distinct of the South Carolina Sea Islands, and at the heart of Gullah Geechee culture. Founded in 1862 on 50 acres of land by the formerly enslaved farmer and Reconstruction-era legislator Hastings Gantt, Penn Center’s uninterrupted history as a vibrant center of African American education, economic empowerment, self-determination, and grass-roots activism spans from the Civil War and Reconstruction, through the 20-century Civil Rights Movement, to the present day. The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor runs from the coast of North Carolina to the coast of Florida.


Please contact Winnie Smith at if you have questions about this program.