By: Heather Keys
An artist residency is a program that provides creative people with the time, space, and resources to develop new work, experiment with new ideas, and engage with a new community.
Residencies can take place in a variety of settings, such as museums, universities, community organizations, and cultural institutions. Many provide artists with a stipend, housing, and studio space, as well as opportunities for public programming, professional development, and collaboration with other creators. The length of residencies can vary from a few weeks to several months.
The goal of an artist residency is to support the creative process and foster new forms of artistic expression.
Read on to learn more about what you can expect from one of these amazing programs!
Who can join an artist residency?
Artist residencies are open to creators working in all types of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, installation, performance, video, sound, multimedia, and beyond—there are residency opportunities for writers and people working in other fields as well.
Some residencies may have a specific focus, such as visual arts, performing arts, or literature, while others may be open to artists working in any medium. Depending on the program, some have specific themes or topics that they are interested in exploring.
What types of services do artist residencies offer?
The services offered by artist residencies can vary greatly, depending on the organization and the specific program. A few basics that most provide include:
- Housing: Many artist residencies offer on-site or nearby housing, either in apartments or individual studios.
- Studio space: Most residencies provide artists with dedicated studio space to work in.
- Meals: Some residencies provide meals, either as part of the program or as a stipend for artists to purchase their own food.
- Art supplies: Some residencies provide access to art supplies, tools, and equipment, either for free or for a fee.
- Professional development: Some residencies offer opportunities for professional development, such as critiques, workshops, and exhibitions.
- Community engagement: Some residencies encourage local engagement, such as open studios, public talks, and community projects.
Do artists get paid while they’re in a residency, or do they have to pay to be there?
It depends on the residency.
Some artist residencies offer stipends or salaries to artists to cover participants’ living expenses during the residency period. Others may not provide financial support and instead ask that artists cover their own expenses. It’s important that you carefully review the terms and conditions of a residency before applying so that you understand the level of financial support or financial obligation involved.
What are the benefits of joining an artist residency?
Joining an artist residency can offer many benefits to creators, including:
- Time and space to create: Artist residencies provide artists with dedicated time and space to create, experiment, and focus on their work without distractions.
- Access to resources: Residencies may offer access to materials, equipment, and other resources that artists may not have in their regular studio practice.
- Community: Residencies give opportunities for artists to connect with other artists and arts professionals, both locally and from around the world.
- Inspiration and exposure: Artists are encouraged to engage with new environments, cultures, and perspectives, which can spark new ideas and increase exposure to their work.
- Career development: Artist residencies can be opportunities for creatives to develop their skills, build their networks, and make new connections that can advance their careers.
- Time away from daily life: Residencies provide the chance to escape one’s daily routines and focus solely on work and the creative process, which can be a valuable and rejuvenating experience.
Are there any downsides to joining an artist residency?
Like most opportunities, artist residencies have both benefits and potential downsides—before jumping in, make sure you’re aware of and prepared for the following:
- Competition: Artist residencies can be competitive and not all applicants are accepted.
- Cost: Some residencies may require artists to pay for their participation, including fees for room and board, travel expenses, and other costs.
- Isolation: Artist residencies can be isolated experiences, particularly if they are located in remote areas. This can be challenging for some artists who prefer a more social and collaborative environment.
- Limited resources: While residencies may provide access to some resources, they may not have everything that artists need to create their work. This can be especially challenging for people who require specific materials or equipment for their practice.
- Time constraints: Some residencies have time limits, which can be restrictive for artists who need more time to complete their work.
- Culture shock: Artists who participate in residencies abroad may experience culture shock and may need to adjust to new and unfamiliar environments and cultural norms.
The downsides of artist residencies are largely dependent on the specific program and the individual artist’s needs and preferences—you may just find that the benefits majorly outweigh those downsides, particularly if you’re looking to focus on your work, build your networks, and explore new opportunities.
What is the application process like if you want to be an artist in residence?
The application process is different for each program, though some common requirements and elements of the application process include:
- Portfolio: Many residencies require applicants to submit a portfolio of their work. The portfolio should be a strong representation of your work and your artistic style, and it should demonstrate your ability as an artist.
- Artist statement: This is a written piece that provides context for your work and helps the residency program understand your artistic goals and intentions.
- CV/Resume: Many residencies require applicants to submit a CV or resume that outlines their educational background, work experience, and exhibitions.
- Letters of recommendation: Some residencies may require letters of recommendation from other artists, curators, or arts professionals.
- Eligibility: Some residencies have eligibility requirements, such as being a student, an established artist, or a resident of a specific country.
- Application fee
The application process for an artist residency can be competitive, so it is important to carefully read the application guidelines and to prepare a strong and complete application package.
Where are some artist residencies around the world that I can check out?
- MacDowell Colony: Peterborough, New Hampshire
- Yaddo: Saratoga Springs, New York
- Ragdale: Lake Forest, Illinois
- Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts: Omaha, Nebraska
- Ucross Foundation: Clearmont, Wyoming
- Headlands Center for the Arts: Sausalito, California
- Millay Colony for the Arts: Austerlitz, New York
- Vermont Studio Center: Johnson, Vermont
- Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program: Roswell, New Mexico
- The Museum of Fine Arts: Houston, Texas
- Casa Vecina: Mexico City, Mexico
- Fundación Valparaíso: Cerro a Punta, Mexico
- Soma: Mexico City, Mexico
- Proyecto AMIL: Lima, Peru
- Capacete: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Cité Internationale des Arts: Paris, France
- Künstlerhaus Bethanien: Berlin, Germany
- CAC – Contemporary Art Center: Vilnius, Lithuania
- The Irish Museum of Modern Art: Dublin, Ireland
- MACBA – Museum of Contemporary Art: Barcelona, Spain
- Rupert: Vilnius, Lithuania
- ZKM Center for Art and Media: Karlsruhe, Germany
- C3: Budapest, Hungary
- The Artist Village: Taipei, Taiwan
- Asia Culture Center: Gwangju, South Korea
- Tokyo Wonder Site: Tokyo, Japan
- NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore: Singapore
- Seoul Art Space Geumcheon: Seoul, South Korea
- Nirox Foundation: Johannesburg, South Africa
- Art Twenty One: Lagos, Nigeria
- Bag Factory: Johannesburg, South Africa
- Townhouse Gallery: Cairo, Egypt
- Goethe-Institut: Lagos, Nigeria
- Raw Material Company: Dakar, Senegal
- Tankwa Artscape: Northern Cape, South Africa
Australia and New Zealand
- Bundanon Trust: New South Wales, Australia
- Cementa: New South Wales, Australia
- Artspace: New South Wales, Australia
- The Physics Room: Christchurch, New Zealand
- Gertrude Contemporary: Victoria, Australia
- RMIT School of Art: Victoria, Australia
About the Author
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Heather is a writer who loves her two kitty cats, collecting books faster than she can read them, and of course—travel!
Featured image by Matthieu Comoy on Unsplash