The Writers Community’s two-pronged program provided, for more than thirty years, community-based creative writing workshops and master classes for advanced writing students, and residencies to mid-career poets, fiction writers, playwrights, non-fiction writers, children's book authors, and others at YMCA centers across the United States.
As an organization The Writers Community began with a walk on the beach. It was the summer of 1975. At that time, according to statistics from Associated Writing Programs
, there were perhaps twenty creative writing programs at universities in the United States. Community-based writing programs that upheld the standards of academic programs and offered residencies to mid-career writers of accomplishment and promise to work with aspiring writers in their own communities -- these were unheard of.
The Writers Community opened for business in the Fall of 1976. For ten years it operated independently, building a reputation not only as among the first, but also as among the best, community-based writing programs in the country. Many of the writers-in-residence, and not a few of the workshop participants, have gone on to become MacArthur Fellows, university department heads, best-selling authors or otherwise recognized literary figures.
In 1986, The Writers Community was adopted by The Writers Voice at New York's West Side YMCA, under the direction of Jason Shinder, becoming the professional training apex of its multilevel writing workshop pyramid. In 1990 a grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest fund established the YMCA National Writer's Voice, through which was developed an unprecedented Arts and Humanities Initiative in the YMCA system, promoting "arts-friendly" Y's in every community, and incorporating Writers Community writing residencies among the varied activities of selected local YMCAs across the country.
With the tragic and untimely death of Jason Shinder
, who had run the Arts & Humanities Initiative at the National Writer’s Voice, and without his leadership, the Initiative came to an end. However, his influence lives on in the Arts Friendly movement at YMCAs across the country.
Is YOUR Y Arts Friendly? Find out how you can support the arts in your community.