Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Artist-in-residence programs and other residency opportunities exist to invite artists, academicians, curators, and all manner of creative people for a time and space away from their usual environment and obligations. They provide a time of reflection, research, presentation, production and immersion into a new culture. They often allow an individual to explore their practice within another community; meeting new people, using new materials, experiencing life in a new location and potentially integrating elements of that experience into their art. Art residencies emphasize the importance of meaningful and multi-layered cultural exchange and immersion into another culture.

Some residency programs are incorporated within larger institutions. Other organizations exist solely to support residential exchange programs. Residencies can be a part of museums, universities, galleries, studio spaces, theaters, artist-run spaces, municipalities, governmental offices, and even festivals. They can be seasonal, ongoing, or tied to a particular one-time event. They exist in urban spaces, rural villages, container ships and deep in nature. Hundreds of such opportunities and organizations exist throughout the world.

There is no single model, and the expectations and requirements vary greatly. The relationship between the resident and the host is often an important aspect of a residency program. Sometimes residents become quite involved in a community - giving presentations, workshops, or collaborating with local artists or the general public. At other times, they are quite secluded, with ample time to focus and investigate their own practice. Residency programs utilize a wide range of financial models. Typically, residency programs provide part or all of the required finances to invited guests, such as a place to sleep, meals, transportation, and a small stipend for incidental expenses. Less commonly, residents may finance their own stay, finding funding and support from their own countries and networks.

The application processes also vary widely; not all programs provide an open call for applications. Some opportunities are by invitation only, or are offered through special partnerships with other institutions, funding bodies, or organizations. Many times a residency experience is only the beginning of a longer relationship. Resident artists often return after their residency to complete a project they started, to begin a new collaboration, or participate in an exhibition, panel or workshop.


Residency ProfilesEdit

No two artist-in-residence programs are the same. Each program has its own background and atmosphere. Some focus on only one discipline of the arts, most offer facilities for any discipline: visual arts, literature, music, science, research, culinary arts, art historians, curators, creatives, innovators, philosophers, performing arts, architecture, design, dance. Working periods differ enormously: from two weeks to six months or sometimes even a year. There are also a lot of differences in financial resources, housing and studio facilities, application procedures, selection procedures, coaching and exhibiting.

Conditions and SelectionsEdit

Many residential art centers lay down the terms guest artists have to comply with, such as an exhibition at the end of the period or a project, achieved by collaboration with other artists or cooperation with the public. However, many centers offer unconditional hospitality: the artist is free to use the residency for his or her own purposes, without any obligation towards the host.


Most residential arts centers offer an application procedure which is open to artists from all nations, with or without deadlines. Usually artists are requested to send in documentation, a curriculum vitae, a motivation and if necessary a project proposal. Each institute has its own policy of adjudication. Participation is planned a long time in advance, usually six months, sometimes years ahead.


Operating an artist-in-residence program costs money. Some residency programs cover all costs for the artist, some offering stipends, others don't cover any costs at all. It is not unusual that residential art centers cover the costs only partially, which may make it necessary for the artist to find additional funding. In some countries artists can apply for subsidy at state governed bodies. There are some international beneficiary funding schemes, most important of which is the Unesco-Aschberg residency funding scheme.

History of Artist Residency ProgramsEdit

Artist-in-residence programs have a history that stretches back much further than is often thought. Artist-in-residence programs have not appeared out of the blue. The phenomenon has been part of the international art world for over a century. Lydia Shackleton was an early artist-in-residence in 1884 in Dublin.[1]

1900: First DevelopmentEdit

The first wave of artist-in-residence programs came at the beginning of the last century. The Byrdcliffe Colony began operation in 1903 and The MacDowell Colony was established in 1907. The Yaddo Corporation, which began receiving artists in 1926, was founded in 1900 by art-loving benefactors like The MacDowell Colony, who regarded offering guest studios to individual artists as a new kind of patronage. Woodstock Guild was founded by artists and was run on their own terms: a sense of community was very prominent in this artists’ colony.

Both models were typical of a lot of other artist-in-residence programs which were set up during the first decades of the 20th century, both in the United States and Europe. An example in Europe is the artists' colony at the small village of Worpswede near Bremen: founded in 1889 by, amongst others, the artists Heinrich Vogeler and Rainer Maria Rilke. Soon they managed to draw attention to Worpswede internationally. In those times the village even was called 'Weltdorf'. In 1971 the colony was given a new boost with the foundation of Künstlerhäuser Worpswede, which has grown into one of the most renowned international residential art centers.

Another European example is the Gregory Fellowships, dating from 1951, funded by the Yorkshire printer Peter Gregory, placed painters, sculptors, poets and musicians in the University of Leeds. The University was, at that time, primarily a technical institution with very little arts activity, and the presence of the artists was intended to humanise the university. The Gregory Fellowships helped to set the typical formal for subsequent artist-in-residence schemes, with the fellows being free to move around the university as they wished, and not being tied to any one department.

1960: Second DevelopmentEdit

A new wave of artist-in-residence programs emerged in the 1960s, adding two new models to the ones that already existed. One new model offered artists the opportunity to withdraw temporarily from a society which was considered bourgeois. They preferred to create their own utopia in seclusion. The other new model, on the other hand, tried to contact the public and aimed for social engagement: guest studios in villages and cities served as a base for society change. Quite a number of new foundations elaborated on this new tendency during the seventies and the eighties.

1990: Globalization and The New WaveEdit

As from the nineties a third wave of residency programs proliferated all over the globe: from Brazil to Taiwan, from Estonia to Zambia, from Japan to Vietnam. Characteristic of this new wave is the rich diversity of residency models: from not required hospitality at one end of the spectrum, to almost commission-like projects at the other end of the spectrum. Because of its global expansion and its seemingly unrestrained popularity, these new artist-in-residence opportunities have attracted more attention in the art world, now also including art writers, critics and curators in residence independently or alongside artists. However, we must not forget that new residency opportunities do have their historical roots. Neither should we forget that the 'old', established programs are still offering their expertise, contacts, advice and support to the new opportunities.

2000: Innovations, including Artist-Run Residencies / Return to Neighborhoods and Local CommunitiesEdit

Artist in Residence in the Village of the Arts, Bradenton, Florida, USA

Newer models of artist-in-residence programs include cooperation between local government zoning boards and a more capitalistic approach - see Village of the Arts, a planned, structured artist-in-residence in Bradenton, Florida, USA. In this model, artists live in homes with attached galleries. The home/gallery is located very near to other such residences/galleries creating a "community" of artists. Other models include galleries creating residency programs to support new work, artists opening their houses and studios to international guests, museums and universities creating exchange programs to stimulate their own programming, share resources and expand their networks.


  1. ^ Nelson, E. Charles (1998). "A Garden of Bright Images: Art Treasures at Glasnevin" (PDF). Irish Arts Review. pp. 41–51. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-13.