The Role and Benefits of an Artist Residency – (2023)


Brief history of artist residencies

The origin of artist residences dates back to the end of the 19th century.heCentury, when communities wanted creative people to settle in their population. The United Kingdom and the United States favored the romantic patronage of artists housed in the studios of art patrons. At the same time, artists in Europe continued their careers by founding artist colonies to work collectively and develop artistic ideas as a group.

The solitary artist residency model began in the 1960s for creative minds who valued time and space away from the bourgeoisie. At the same time, a different approach emerged, in which artists make their works rooted in social and political action. Over the next two decades, this concept was further elaborated in many residences from an activist perspective.

Globalization expanded residence halls around the world until the 1990s. They offered residents more hospitality and created alternative centers of knowledge and exchange. Diversity increased and residential art centers stimulated local contemporary art scenes.

Since the year 2000, artists have benefited from greater mobility thanks to more convenient travel options and more efficient forms of communication (internet and social networks). These factors have helped residencies play a crucial role in the contemporary art world and have become an indispensable part of many artists' careers.

Today, applicants for artist residencies must go through a more competitive application process that requires an ever-increasing standard of quality. Governments, foundations and other funding bodies have partnered with many residencies to support artist participation. New forms have been developed from this established model of residence. Various forms of hospitality, such as nomadic projects, collaborations, and interdisciplinary workshops, are spreading across the globe, and artist-run hubs often connect from different cities or countries to organize artist exchanges. Another development was an increased interest in thematic issues, which influenced many theme residencies. Instead of thinking about how a residence should function, the question now arises, what can a residence be?

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is prompting institutions and artists to reconsider their approach to organizing and participating in residencies. Virtual residencies are gaining in importance for artist experimentation and creating spaces to re-evaluate the creative process. They also allow the parties involved to remain visible to the public eye by offering access to content through different digital platforms.

What is an artist residency?

Artist residencies have been established to allow artists, researchers, curators and other creatives to take a break from their usual surroundings and commitments. They give residents time and space to think, focus on their research, develop new ideas, experiment and produce new works of art. Additionally, they can provide an opportunity for a person to expand their practice in a different setting. By meeting other artists, learning new skills, and spending time in an amazing new place, residencies broaden cultural awareness, encourage multifaceted exchange, and immerse participants in a different environment.

There is a wide range of different types of housing. While some are part of larger institutions, the smaller establishments exist solely to facilitate artist exchange programs. Some are associated with museums, galleries, studio spaces, artist-run centers, theaters, schools and universities, festivals, and even government agencies. They can be found in urban settings, rural and remote locations, national parks, and online frames. They can be seasonal, ongoing, or part of a special event. Some are faculty-led and follow thematic themes. Many residencies involve travel, group critiques, and visiting professors. Or they can get involved in the community; Presentations, workshops or collaboration with local citizens. Most artist residencies allow for both alone time andcritical but informal speech with roommates.

The role and benefits of an artist residency for the resident

education and learning

Artist residencies are a place of education and learning where both artists and the public can acquire specific techniques and skills. There can also be skills sharing where other artists can share their expertise. Residencies can be the perfect time to improve organizational and management skills. Artists-in-residence learn and grow from critical feedback during sessions with curators or other art professionals, and the acquisition of knowledge through new research is a common feature of many artist residencies. Artists are also exposed to new international trends in their art form and can enrich their practice by learning about other cultures in which they may be working.


Another part of artist residencies may be the production of some type of work. It can be a one-off project, for example, a complete work in response to or within a theme, or the production of new pieces for an exhibition, performance, or commission. There will usually be a faculty to support artists with technical needs such as tools and studio space.

(Video) Susan Roden at Desert Dairy Artist Residency


At the heart of the residency experience for many artists is the opportunity to break away from usual daily routines and have a break to devote time and energy to their creative practice. This often means being in a new place or culture and being able to provide fresh inspiration to creatively explore new ideas.


For many participants, the potential for collaboration between artists-in-residence is attractive and can lead to new relationships being forged and peer networks being expanded. Local artists can meet local creators, roommates, curators, academics, or researchers to build their audience. There may also be opportunities for groups to develop a new project together.


There are many grants available directly from residency programs to cover expenses such as living and material expenses, as well as production costs and hiring equipment or staffing. This financial support will often attract additional funding from outside organisations, such as national, regional or municipal arts councils.

The role and benefits of an artist residency for the host


For hosts of a residency program, hosting artists from around the world raises the profile of their city or region and places them in the art world arena. Local artists can start projects that have a positive impact on the local community.

Artistic Development and Opportunities

Many residency hosts offer professional development and networking opportunities for both visiting artists and the host community. These activities foster connections between other artists and exchange opportunities with other arts organizations through the participation of external curators or exhibitions with a partner art venue. Different residencies can promote a particular art form or practice and encourage interdisciplinary experimentation or collaboration. They can also target specific groups, such as artists at the beginning of their careers or those with a certain track record. In general, the residencies aim to encourage shared ideas and new methods to create interactions between the host community and the artists.

Types of artist residencies

Research-Based Residencies

Artists develop ideas with access to special materials, experience or knowledge, often closely linked to the research site and the people they work with. Research residencies are more about developing ideas than achieving a specific result. However, investigative artists can discover solutions or new approaches to problems that arise in their work.

Thematic residences

A themeThe residency offers a structured program in which artists, curators, and other creators come together to create works and discuss relevant issues.

Production-Based Residences

A production-based residency offers artists the opportunity to work on and complete a specific project/piece of art. Often supported by a curatorial and technical team and intended to be completed and exhibited thereafter..

Interdisciplinary and intersectoral residencies

The purpose of an interdisciplinary and cross-industry residency is for creatives working in a variety of media, disciplines, and fields of the arts. Both artists and residency hosts often explore the possibilities of collaborating with partners from other sectors outside of the art world.

Virtual Residences

A virtual residence offersArtists who use a platform and a period of time to work on a project and/or present their work. One intention is to decentralize the art discourse, making the work of online artists accessible to a broader international audience. It is an experimental approach to work, oriented towards the process rather than the realization of a specific project.

Why Virtual Residences?

There are many benefits to staying virtual, even outside of the current crisis and social distancing measures.

for artists

An important consideration to participate in a virtual residence is immobility, travel problems or being away from home for an extended period of time, be it for economic reasons, family commitments, visa problems, etc.

This works on both sides. The public can experience the work of an artist and participate inproject or creative process from anywhere, regardless of physical or geographical limitations.

In general, a virtual residency stimulates institutional support and visibility of an artist's work and practice. There is not as much financial commitment associated with running a residency program in a virtual environment, which eliminates the need for room and board, travel expenses, and more. Improved accessibility means a more inclusive art world, where the virtual format acts as a platform for open exchange and a broader global audience can participate in conversations.

for organizers

A good presence is given to art programs, institutions and alternative platforms through residencies produced virtually. It allows for greater diversity in the outcomes of the organizers, bringing together different voices and perspectives than would normally be possible in a more traditional residency. Running a virtual residency can be a more sustainable way, as it requires fewer resources and doesn't cost as much, which means it's easier to support more artists. Of course, the idea is not new. For example, "Instagram takeovers" is a familiar phrase to most people today, but residencies in a virtual space are becoming more common and more formalized.

Virtual residences may have limitations such as: B. not being able to experience a new environment in person or experience a new culture in the same way, but new ways of sharing through virtual platforms open up exciting new channels where anything is possible.

(Video) A career in collaboration: Wendy Morrow

A virtual residency could help develop a broader scope for artists' work, spark new ideas, and even provide funding.


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(Video) Wendy Red Star Native Arts Artist-in-Residence

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