At some point in an artist's career the opportunity of doing an artist residency will likely emerge.
You can find residencies advertised on a variety of art forums, notice boards, on an organization's website, social media channels or their newsletter.
If you are interested in doing a residency in a particular country you need to research which websites offer these types of opportunities. For example, if you are interested in doing an artist residency in the United Kingdom, the Arts Council England or British Council website is a good place to start. In other countries there are usually equivalent cultural bodies that offer interesting residencies usually with a level of funding attached.
If you go to, or have attended an art school, you may have seen residencies shared via the school’s mailing list and opportunity boards. Colleges and schools with the best reputations often get the lion's share of the opportunities sent their way.
Benefits of Doing an Artist Residency
Doing a residency can have many benefits to both early career artists and seasoned professionals.
New audience and networking - If there is an exhibition or element that is open to the public as part of the residency this can open up your artistic practice to a new audience, professional relationships and further opportunities as a result.
Career advancement – As mentioned in the point above, the exposure generated from taking part in a residency can lead to more opportunities. Equally, as you probably already know, the more shows and residencies you get and successfully complete, the more organizations will be interested in taking you on. Once you get one residency, it becomes easier to get more.
Creative boost - A change of scenery can give you a creative boost and revival. Being in a space with better light and facilities, and maybe even a different social and professional dynamic can make you reconsider your usual working space. It may inspire you to get a new studio that works better for you.
Collaborative setting - You may not be the only artist that has been given the residency. Some organizations have a group of artists working within their facilities at any one time. This can create a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with new artists.
Access - Some residencies are connected to specific archives or unique cultural or historical settings such as castles. As part of the program you may gain access to behind the scenes collections, materials or facilities to further inspire your work.
Important Factors to Consider
Every artist residency on offer has its own unique list of pros and cons so make sure you research the opportunities out there and think about what your motivations are for doing one and what you wish to achieve. It is important to be clear on these points and it will show in the application process if you are not. Think about applying for a residency as you would any job: make the proposal unique and tailored to the specific opportunity, be clear on what you offer and what your expectations are from the awarding body.
When searching for residencies consider: the length (some last two months, others can be one year), the location, what is on offer (a studio, exhibition etc), the associated costs, any specific benefits and facilities that you require. Finally, consider their expectations as well as your own.
Extra advice and considerations
Whatever programs you are interested in make sure you plan your submission in advance. Some residency programs will be taking proposals a year or more in advance. Writing and compiling an application can be very time consuming and if you haven’t done one before I strongly recommend getting advice from someone who has experience in writing successful proposals or has professional experience working on the side of receiving and evaluating applicants.
Remember that a residency is a two-way relationship that both the artist and organizing body want to benefit from. Consider what you bring to the table.
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