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What is an Artist Residency?

Artist residencies, also known as artist-in-residence programs, are opportunities given to artists to work on projects, develop new ideas, and explore their practice in an environment other than their studio, removed from the distractions of everyday life. This allotted time and space is great for artists to produce work and focus on personal and professional growth, but it can also be significant in shaping their career. Some of the most prestigious residencies only select a handful of applicants, so having experience working with a particular organization can boost your reputation as an artist when galleries or collectors are looking at your CV.

Residencies can be found all over the world, and artists go through an application process to be picked for the residency of their choice. In this article, Singulart defines an artist residency by outlining the different types of residencies that exist, and provides resources on where to find the residency of your dreams.

By Discipline

Most residency programs are open to “all mediums” which can mean anything under the umbrella term of “the arts.” This includes visual artists (painters, sculptors, draftsmen, textile artists, filmmakers), musicians, writers, and performers (dancers, performance artists). Some residencies will specify that they are only taking applications from one of these disciplines, for example visual artists, or some even specify that they are interested in proposals surrounding a particular theme. There are many environmentally-conscious residencies popping up today that only accept applications from artists whose work directly engages with themes of nature conservation, ecology, and sustainability. Other residencies are looking for site-specific proposals. For example, a residency run by the USA National Park Service in Mesa Verde, Colorado, is interested in proposals about the Pueblo people, environment, national park, heritage, and archaeology.

By Duration

Artists residencies can range in duration from one intensive week to multiple months or even to several years. It really depends on the program. The average length of a residency is around 4-6 weeks.

By Environment: Solitary or Community-Based

The purpose of many residencies is to create an artistic community where people can collaborate and be immersed in a creative environment. If you are looking to meet other like-minded artists, residencies are a great opportunity to do so. The average number of artists in residence at one time is around nine people. There are residencies that certainly host more than this at once, whereas some are meant for just one person at a time. Other residencies can give artists the best of both worlds, where you live and work in separate studios, but can come together at moments for conferences and showcases. If you are looking to be completely alone and immersed in your practice, however, there are opportunities such as the Outlandia residency in Scotland where one artist lives in a treehouse in the middle of the forest for one week.

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We’re grateful for the MacDowell Fellows who created a wondrous program for our 2019 Young Friends Cocktail Party last night, and wish a heartfelt thanks to each of the guests who came out to directly support artist residencies at The MacDowell Colony. . In photo 1 are the MacDowell Fellows who made the night happen: @jennydeluxe (18), Arisleyda Dilone (18), @kambuiolujimi (18), James Anthony Tyler (18), @flesh_dozer (18), @aokeowo (19). . 2. Friends of MacDowell begin the party at our space in Chelsea, Manhattan: #MacDowellNYC. . 3. Greg Stevens (center), a member of the event’s host committee, with two of his guests. . 4. Host committee member Katie Tenney (center) with two of her guests. . 5. Host committee member Elizabeth Cafferty with guest. . 6. MacDowell supporters enjoy a section of the engaging program. . 7. The audience takes in Fellow Kambui Olujimi’s “T-Minus ∅” works, an array of six flags installed in MacDowell’s space. . 8. Performers for an excerpt of Fellow James Anthony Tyler’s play, “Dolphins & Sharks”: Pernell Walker, Camila Cano-Flavia, Cesar J. Rosado, and Chinaza Uche . 9. A guest explores one of the virtual reality worlds in “Terminus” a work created by Fellow Jess Johnson and her collaborator Simon Ward. . 10. Kambui Olujimi (right) talks to guests about his work and art practice. . We also wish to thank MacDowell Fellow @jeremyoharris (15) for facilitating the donation, from Seaview Productions, for two tickets to his play @slaveplaybway, and Jess Johnson, who donated a print of her work “Psy Zetta Terra” (2018), for a raffle at the event. . . . #FriendsOfMacDowell #MacDowellColony #MacDowellFellow

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By Location: From Urban Immersion to Rural Reflection

In terms of location, residencies can be found all over the world. Artists who feed off the creative energy of cities can find programs in urban settings, and artists who need to totally disconnect and become one with nature to create can find themselves a rural haven for reflection. If staying in one place doesn’t sound appealing, there are opportunities like the Amtrak writer-in-residence program that lets artists live and work on a traveling train. And if working on land doesn’t float your boat, there are even artist-in-residence programs that exist on sailboats and cargo tankers.

By Funding: From Stipends to Residency Fees

Last but not least, residencies can differ based on their funding. While some residencies cost money for the artist to attend, mostly including housing fees, others will provide the artist with stipends and cover all living costs. Some programs will even pay for the artist to travel to the residency from their home country. Residency programs that are well funded even offer accepted artists award money, ranging anywhere between $2,000 all the way up to $32,000.

Resources and Databases for Finding your Next Artist Residency: TransArtists, Res Artis, and Rivet

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