FORT MYERS, Fla. (Nov. 18, 2014) – Two years ago, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation transformed the artist’s former home and studio on Captiva Island, Florida into a dynamic artists residency. Since the Rauschenberg Residency program was launched, the foundation has offered seven month-long residencies each year. Program alumni boast dancers, writers, curators, filmmakers, fine artists and photographers alike. Typically, 10 artists are hosted at one time.

Earlier this month, the foundation tried something new.

It used its Captiva campus to host 85 artists, entrepreneurs, community organizers and social innovators from across the United States who have received support through the foundation’s SEED grant program. The inaugural SEED Summit, which is intended to become an annual event on Captiva, brought these arts professionals together for a week-long meeting to build skills, share knowledge and form ongoing relationships.

“Bringing so many of our country’s grassroots cultural leaders to Southwest Florida is truly an honor,” said Christy MacLear, executive director of the foundation. “In a span of five days, 85 people became a single cohort prepared to support one another’s work locally and nationally.”

“What an experience for all these artists to be here together,” said Tere Mathern, artistic and managing director of Conduit Dance in Portland, Oregon and one of this year’s SEED Summit participants. “To be selected by the Rauschenberg Foundation to join other artists to learn and grow from one another is invaluable.”

Conduit Dance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization that serves as an incubator for independent contemporary dance in the Portland region. It is also one of 36 organizations supported by the SEED program and now, thanks to last week’s meeting, is part of a national network of art innovators from every genre – from experimental film to public art to ‘do-it-yourself’ maker spaces. Each grantee comes from one of ten cities in the United States that is rich in culture but may not have a large, local philanthropic base such as Atlanta, Boise, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, New Orleans Phoenix, Portland and Providence.

“It is not easy to work in unconventional ways, especially when you are operating outside of New York and California,” said v, director of philanthropy at the foundation. “Giving these artists and administrators time and space to reflect on their day-to-day work is useful. But to do so in a way that builds lasting relationships is transformational.”

It made sense to organize the Summit on the Residency’s 20-acre estate. The Residency program is inspired by Rauschenberg’s early years at Black Mountain College where an artistic community taught him the importance of learning from and working with others to break new ground. Building on this ethos of collaboration, the SEED Summit is the product of foundation’s Philanthropy and Residency programs working together to ensure its grantees are well poised to succeed by leveraging one another’s expertise. This same value of cooperation is also at the heart of the recent call for proposals the foundation has launched in partnership with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. The grant opportunity invites nonprofits working to improve the quality of life in Southwest Florida to work in partnership with other agencies. Interested organizations should visit to learn how to apply.

For more information about the Rauschenberg Residency program, the SEED grant program and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation overall, visit

Ann Brady, Risë Wilson & Sarah Owen

Tammy McGovern, Marcus Wise & Yarro Thorne

Ashley Teamer, Hannah Pepper-Cunningham, Morgan Willis, Diana Nucera & Gracie Goodrich

Dora Gaskill & Tere Mathern

Risë Wilson & Gibran Rivera