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The Kay Hall residency house at SPACE on Ryder Farm. (Photo by HudValley Photos)

SPACE on Ryder Farm to Suspend Operations

The barn doors at SPACE will close after more than a decade supporting creators and cultivators, while the board considers what comes next.

BREWSTER, N.Y.: After 13 years, the artistic and agricultural haven SPACE on Ryder Farm announced today that its current writers’ residency, the Working Farm, will be its last for the foreseeable future. The nonprofit artists’ residency program and organic farm is located on the ancestral land of the Wappinger people in modern-day Putnam County, on the grounds of a 227-year-old family homestead. Its other programs have included Come to the Table, a five-year creative residency; institutional residencies nonprofits to gather and strategize; the Greenhouse Residency, a one-week program for playwrights and lyricists; and a family residency which offered parents and their children time and space to work. The list of artists and organizations who have benefited from SPACE’s various programs is long and distinguished.

The organization’s farming operation will continue through the end of 2024, fulfilling a contract with the Putnam County Cornell Cooperative Extension to contribute 50,000 pounds of fresh produce to emergency food providers throughout New York state, in addition to its local farmstand members. The organization will then suspend operations, but not dissolve, while the board investigates options for SPACE’s future sustainability.

“We have worked tirelessly to keep this extraordinary organization alive, but the challenges of the last four years, including the pandemic and the loss of major funding sources, have become insurmountable,” said board co-chair Janet Olshansky in a statement. “We are incredibly proud of the work done and created here, and unendingly grateful to everyone who has supported it. And while this chapter of SPACE is finished, our hope is that, with time, SPACE will grow again.”

Those who would like to stay in touch with SPACE during this time of transition are invited to fill out the contact form on the farm’s website.

“Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed closures and contractions of hundreds of arts organizations, from residencies to major producing theatres,” continued board co-chair Lee Seymour in a statement. “This is awful to confront, but SPACE is not alone, and we did not make this decision lightly or quickly. We spent months crunching numbers and pursuing all our possible options, but the plain truth is that we are not immune to the same funding drought that is crippling the broader arts sector. And though the board and staff worked endlessly to fill the gap, we simply couldn’t generate enough funds to support operations through the summer. If anything, I hope that SPACE can inspire others to rethink the way America supports its arts and cultural institutions, and make them more sustainable.”

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