"Comfort and routine are the worst enemies of creativity." -Ji Lee, Creative director
THE CABINS is a collaborative retreat in Norfolk, CT for people working in the creative arts. Open to artists, writers, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, poets—pretty much anyone who has rarely had employee health benefits—the creative knowledge exchange program was founded on the tenets of open-mindedness, collaboration, and financial accessibility by novelist, Courtney Maum.
Having spent a decade attending both writer’s conferences and film festivals where people didn’t socialize outside of their chosen disciplines, Courtney’s first goal with The Cabins was to bring people from different artistic backgrounds together to challenge and enrich each other’s work. Her second goal was to keep the retreat short and affordable enough that participants wouldn’t have to take too much time away from their families and/or jobs to attend, while still diving into an experience that would leave them invigorated and creatively renewed by the weekend's end.
At The Cabins, the students are the teachers. Participants are chosen based not just on merit, but also on their ability to contribute positively to the group as a whole. To this end, each participant should come prepared to lead a 40-minute master class with time for Q&A. The master class shouldn’t be self-promotional—you can use your own work as a jumping off point toward a larger theme, but the end goal should be to enhance the group experience and to teach people something that will challenge and inspire them. Download one of our prior Welcome Packets to see an example of a master class line-up.
Norfolk, CT is a scenic and storied rural town in Northwestern, CT, about 2 ½ hours from NYC and 3 hours from Boston. The Cabins takes place in a private camp within walking distance of Tobey Pond, where the trailblazing independent press New Directions was founded, and where President Obama, Henry James, and Ezra Pound have all frolicked. Although The Cabins is located near the rustic serenity of The Great Mountain Forest, the uptown delights of downtown Norfolk are just a short drive or bike ride away. The Yale School of Art and Music offers lectures, free drawing classes and concerts throughout the summer, the library is on the State Registry of Historic Places, and the local cafés, restaurants, and lively farmer’s market will keep hungry minds fed.
Because Courtney used to work in event planning and is obsessed with creative balance, retreats offer a healthy mix of learning, celebration, and downtime. In between master classes, there will be ample time for solo work, and evening social activities will rouse your inner kid: picture a spooky round of ghost stories in a candle-lit cabin, beach-side barbecues, duck pin bowling underneath a spinning disco ball, or just good conversation around an outdoor fire.
The Cabins is a one-of-a-kind, collaborative experience, but its rural location and communal living situation might not be right for everyone. Browse through past participants’ testimonials and check out our FAQs to see if it’s right for you. The Cabins is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and all donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
Original drawings provided by artist (and 2016 Cabiner) Dasha Ziborova. Most of the photographs are by local photographer, Christopher Little.