The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) was established in 1971 by Virginia writers Nancy Hale and Elizabeth Coles Langhorne. After several years of providing residencies on estates around Charlottesville, VCCA settled at its current home on the grounds of Mt. San Angelo in 1978. Located in Amherst County and owned by Sweet Briar College, the property includes a 13,000-square-foot 1930s Normandy-style dairy barn designed by Pendleton Clark and subsequently renovated for use as artists’ studios. The Langhorne Residence, with bedrooms, a living room, dining facilities, and library, opened in 1981. With facilities accommodating up to 25 artists at one time, VCCA is one of the nation’s largest year-round residency programs and has served more than 6,000 writers, visual artists, and composers since its founding. VCCA was a founding member of the Alliance of Artists Communities and of Res Artis, the worldwide network of artists communities.
During the 1980s, VCCA expanded its offerings to artists by establishing exchanges with residency programs in Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Malta, sending artists who have previously been in residence in Virginia abroad and bringing international artists to this country as VCCA Fellows. In 2004, VCCA established a second location in Auvillar, France, through the generous gift of two buildings from a Denver-based foundation. Operated through our supporting organization, VCCA Abroad, the Moulin à Nef now provides residencies and lively community engagement to nearly 40 artists each year.
In recent years, the relationship between VCCA and Sweet Briar College has deepened, with a focus on enhancing the creative work done in both organizations. The two institutions regularly collaborate on programs that bring writers, visual artists, and composers to VCCA and Sweet Briar, such as the creation of the SBC/VCCA Teaching Fellowship, as well as programs like the SBC/VCCA Salons that give students and the Sweet Briar community access to Fellows and their work.