Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ragdale?
Ragdale offers architects, artists, writers, musicians and composers of the highest caliber an inspiring, supportive environment where they can produce enduring creative works. More than 150 residencies and fellowships are offered annually to creative professionals of all types, making Ragdale one of the largest interdisciplinary artists’ communities in the country.

When was Ragdale founded?
Ragdale was founded in 1976 in Lake Forest, Illinois by poet Alice Judson Hayes, the granddaughter of architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. In 1897, Shaw had built the country estate where the Ragdale Foundation is located, on the edge of a beautiful 50-acre prairie. Ragdale was the family’s summer retreat, and included an outdoor theatre, the Ragdale Ring, where Shaw’s friends and family frequently performed for the Lake Forest community. Today, Ragdale draws on that rich artistic heritage, hosting performances, open studios, seminars and lectures that are open to the public as well as providing time and space for creative professionals to do their work.

How can I stay connected and informed?
There are many ways to interact with Ragdale throughout the year, including youth and adult workshops, lectures, tours, volunteer opportunities, and open studios. For more information about Ragdale events, sign up for eNews, a monthly online bulletin sent to your email address.

How long is a residency?
A residency is 18 or 25 days. Ragdale’s policy is for residents to cover the cost of the full session regardless of how many days of the session they are in attendance. Please see Ragdale’s cancellation policies. Below are the 2018 Residency Sessions.

  1. January 8-26 (18 days)
  2. January 29- February 23 (25 days)
  3. February 26-March 16 (18 days)
  4. March 26-April 20 (25 days)
  5. May 7-25 (18 days)
  6. May 28- June 15 (Ragdale Ring Residency)
  7. June 25- July 20 (25 days)
  8. July 30-August 17 (18 days)
  9. August 20- September 7 (18 days)
  10. September 10- October 5 (18 days)
  11. October 29- November 17 (18 days)
  12. November 26- December 14 (18 days)

Is there a residency fee?
A 18-day residency will cost $630 and a 25-day residency will cost $875. Once accepted 2018 residents will receive residency contract and financial aid and fellowship application. Financial aid is available on a very limited basis. Applicants may request to apply for financial aid upon acceptance of a residency. A written statement of financial need and a copy of the applicant’s most recently submitted tax form will be required. Residency paperwork, $100 deposit, financial aid applications are due by October 31st, 2018. Completed residency paperwork and nonrefundable deposit of $100 is required to secure a residency slot. The balance is due 45 days before the residency session.

How do I apply for financial aid?
Ragdale can provide limited financial aid to admitted residents, based on need. Only individuals who have already been admitted may apply for financial assistance. Specific instructions and an application form are included with acceptance documents. In most cases, a reduction in the resident fee is granted to help offset the cost of a residency.

How do I apply for a fellowship?
Several fellowships are awarded by separate application, those are available on the Fellowships page. Ragdale also awards fellowships to admitted residents, through the traditional residency application, based on merit and suitability of practice for public programming and Ragdale in Schools Initiative. Admitted residents, through the traditional residency application, do not submit additional information to be considered for available fellowship awards. All fellowship notification dates are variable.

What are the important dates I need to know?
May 15, 2017: Residency Application Deadline
June 1, 2017: Reference Letters Deadline
Mid August, 2017: Residency Notification
September 5, 2017 Admitted Residents residency date confirmation due
September 1-9, 2017: Acceptance Documents sent
October 31, 2017: Residency paperwork due. Return residency paperwork and all supporting documents, pay nonrefundable $100 deposit. If applicable, return financial aid and fellowship applications.
December 15, 2017: Financial aid notification
Variable: Fellowship notification
31 days before residency arrival date: deadline to reschedule residency without penalty
14 days before residency arrival date: balance of residency fee due

May 15, 2018: Residency Application Deadline
June 1, 2018: Reference Letters Deadline
Mid August, 2018: Residency Notification
September 5, 2018 Admitted Residents residency date confirmation due
September 1-9, 2018: Acceptance Documents sent
October 31, 2018: Residency paperwork due. Return residency paperwork and all supporting documents, pay nonrefundable $100 deposit. If applicable, return financial aid and fellowship applications.
December 15, 2018: Financial aid notification
Variable: Fellowship notification
31 days before residency arrival date: deadline to reschedule residency without penalty
14 days before residency arrival date: balance of residency fee due

What if I need to arrive late, leave early, or leave in the middle of my residency?
Residents should schedule their residency for the full 18- or 25-day session. Late arrivals and/or early departures, as well as leaving campus temporarily during a residency for consecutive days is discouraged but allowed. Residents should notify Ragdale staff in advance of any adjustments to their residency dates. Ragdale’s policy is for residents to cover the cost of the full session regardless of how many days of the session they are in attendance.

I’ve been awarded a residency in 2018, what if I must withdraw or postpone my residency? What is the residency cancellation policy?
Ragdale is not able to provide refunds for any missed residency days due to illness, work, family, travel commitments, or any other reason beyond the Foundation’s control. In rare cases, a scheduled residency may be postponed to later in the year or deferred to the following year. All adjustments to the residency sessions are limited to available sessions of the residency calendar year and are at the discretion of Ragdale staff. Paperwork must be received by October 31st to reschedule 2019 residencies.

Ragdale staff will make adjustments to the best of their abilities within the timeframe shown below:

Percent of balance refunded (minus $100 deposit)

46+ days before residency start date:100%
Balance due = 0% of residency fee.

45 days before residency start date:50%
Balance due = 50% of residency fee.

14 days or less before start date:0%
Balance due = 100% of residency fee.

Creative Sabbaticals are one- to three-week residencies. Alumni, non-alumni, and those on the waitlist who are looking to do a residency outside of the residency application deadline are encouraged to apply for a Creative Sabbatical.

Participants pay $1,500 per week and have access to all that Ragdale has to offer, including a live/work studio, all meals, and interaction with other creative professionals. A special jury reviews proposals and work experience.

Are classes or instructors available?
Ragdale does not provide instruction for artists-in-residence. The intention of Ragdale is that artists should be able to work independently while here. Workshops and seminars taught by Ragdale alumni are available throughout the year and are open to the general public.

What is the selection process?
Applications are juried annually by the Ragdale Curatorial Board. The group consists of artists, arts administrators, and other professional peers in the creative field and revolve every 1-3 years. A limited number of named fellowships are offered to residents who meet certain criteria as determined by Ragdale’s Curatorial Board and staff. Others are invited to participate as fellowship recipients.

When is the application date?
Applications are due by May 15 each year for residencies taking place the following year. Our annual Ragdale Ring competition deadline is February 15.

Do I need letters of recommendation?
Two letters of reference are required by individuals who are familiar with you and your ability to work in a communal setting. All letters are kept on file and are good for two years from when they were written. Alumni are also required to obtain new letters beyond the two-year limit. Upon applying, the names and email addresses of your references will be required. They will automatically receive an email with a link to submit their letters after you submit your application. If the letters are already up to date, please use the same information on the Submittable form (you will have an opportunity to send a personal note to your references indicating they do not need to write new letters). Please do not send transcripts from schools. Letters of recommendation are due by June 1, two weeks after the regular application deadline, and should be submitted directly through the Submittable portal.

Is there a waiting list?
Yes. Applicants placed on the waiting list are considered and prioritized based on work samples, studio requirements, discipline, availability, and other needs. If an opening occurs that that meets all criteria, the applicant will be notified.

What is Ragdale’s postal address?
You are welcome to send mail and packages to yourself before your residency, and to current residents. Please mark address labels:

Your Name
C/O Ragdale
1260 N. Green Bay Rd
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Please note, over weekends and holidays, your mail may sit outside and will be subject to the elements. Take caution if mailing valuable or temperature-sensitive items.

Does Ragdale offer barrier-free access?
Because Ragdale is a historic property, only one studio is wheelchair accessible. The dining room and kitchen are barrier free.  If you use a wheelchair, be sure to mention this in your application so that we may discuss accommodations.

Does Ragdale provide supplies or equipment?
Artists should bring their own supplies including equipment such as laptops, power tools, and specific technology as needed. WiFi is available in all rooms and studios except the Meadow Studio. A shared computer and printer are available in each of the two main houses. Studio facilities are “white box” spaces with tables, running water, wall space, and natural light. Writers are provided with a writing desk in their rooms. For artists traveling from a distance, items may be shipped in advance of the residency, or purchased from area stores while in residence.

I am on a special diet. Should I bring my own food?
We can accommodate many special dietary needs including vegetarian and vegan diets. Residents submit a dietary needs form in advance of their arrival. However, residents should bring specialty items not covered in our budget.

How is the day structured?
There are quiet hours during the day for uninterrupted work. Residents and fellows serve themselves breakfast and lunch from food provided in the kitchen in the barn or main house. Everyone gathers together for a communal meal in the evening, except on weekends, when no meal is provided. On weekends people may cook a meal together, or go to one of the many restaurants in the surrounding area.

May I bring my family or pets with me?
Meals and housing are limited to Ragdale artists working on creative projects. There are no provisions for partners, children, or pets at Ragdale. Service animals are allowed. Day guests are welcome with permission (at least 48-hours in advance) for short visits or to work collaboratively with residents. All rules pertaining to privacy and use of facilities apply to guests.

Do I need a car while I am at Ragdale?
It isn’t necessary to have a car while in residence. Usually some other residents will have cars, if you want to get to the gym or the store. Ragdale is about a 20-minute walk from the center of Lake Forest. The Metra Union Pacific North Line train is a 20-minute walk away in Lake Forest, and provides regular service into Chicago.

Is there a gym nearby?
There are many fitness facilities located in the area available to residents. Workout equipment and a swimming pool at Lake Forest College are available to Ragdale residents at no charge. There are also opportunities for walking, running, biking, yoga, and other activities near Ragdale.

2016 Residency Updates

If you don’t see your question here

Contact us at admissions@ragdale.org