The Terry Family Foundation announced that Madison’s only arts residency, Edenfred, will close in December 2010 after encountering insurmountable legal obstacles.
The residence, located on Highlands Avenue on the city’s far west side, is “a place to create,” according to a statement from the Edenfred.
The home provides workspace and uninterrupted time to artists of all disciplines.
Edenfred has also provided Day Fellow programs to University of Wisconsin graduate students seeking integration and involvement in the arts community, the statement said.
The announcement came after a nearly year-long legal battle with the city beginning with Edenfred’s application for tax exemption status in 2009, the statement added. In response, the city cited additional zoning violations concerning the property.
Before the dispute could reach the appeals process, the Terry Family Foundation made the decision to forgo costly renovations and continued controversy.
David Wells, Edenfred’s executive director, said the closing of Edenfred was the result of political practices. He added Edenfred is a rare property in the region.
“There are not that many residency programs in the Midwest,” Wells said. “It’s a great resource for people who want to get away to work but don’t want to travel.”
The mansion has housed nearly 400 residents since its opening in 2004, the statement said.
In addition to encouraging interdisciplinary collaborations, Edenfred served as a national model for its fellowship programs. Residents were also required to have some direct interaction with the Madison community during their time at Edenfred, the statement added.
Edenfred was the principle undertaking of the Terry Family Foundation, which has vowed to continue its efforts to support and foster emerging artists in a press release.
The west side residence also played host to faculty from the UW and universities around the country. The grounds boast five bedrooms, gardens, and a swimming pool situated on 2.5 acres of land and will be put on the market after the home’s closing.
City Council President Mark Clear, District 19, said he was upset by the news.
“Edenfred was a big asset to the community,” Clear said. “It was great for artists both in town and visiting.”
Clear said although the main dispute between the Terry Foundation and the city concerned the residency’s application for tax exemption status, not all of Edenfred’s neighbors and other members of the district were willing to lend their full support.
“It’s definitely a loss to the community, but we found that not all neighbors were particularly supportive of the current location and the fact that the building was in clear violation of zoning regulations,” Clear added.
Clear also said he drafted a zoning ordinance that may have allowed for Edenfred to remain open. He added he was trying to gain neighbor support and felt surprised by the timing of the closing announcement.
Wells said Edenfred provided a positive impact on the Madison area.
“We have provided an incredible service to many organizations and assisted them with goals they may not have otherwise accomplished,” He said. “Edenfred functioned to bring people in and invigorate the community.”