There are many different types of art residencies out there. To make it easier when choosing a residency program that’s right for you, here is an overview of their ins and outs.
Whether you’re looking to produce new work, or you’re interested in accessing a well-stocked library or archive to expand your research… Anything is possible! When choosing a residency program, there are a lot of decisions to make based on your own practice and personal needs.
For example, many of us have work or family commitments that aren’t so easy to set aside for months at a time. Or, maybe your practice requires a lot of, say, printing equipment, or a wood workshop. On top of that, some residencies are funded, while others require fees. Basically, there’s a lot to consider.
But before you get into the finer details, there are a few basic types of residency programs to know about. Here’s our list of different types of residency programs to get you started. It should help narrow down the options for you – a bit.
1. Studio Residency
This is likely the most common type. It can be a good fit if you’re looking for a place to carry out a new project, produce new work, or extend your current practice. As the name suggests, a studio residency provides artists with – you guessed it – a studio space!
Some residencies provide artists with individual studios, like the Berlin-based residency program at GlogauAIR. Yet others have shared studio spaces. It really depends on the program.
OK, so you’ll get a workspace. Great! But there are still other factors to consider. After all, different residency programs can offer very different formats, resources and environments.
What kind of atmosphere do you want?
If it’s space and quiet you need, then it might not be beneficial to choose a studio program in the center of a major city, for example.
Which work structure suits you?
Some people need structure, community and a program of events to follow. But others may prefer to steer clear of distractions, in a more self-guided approach. There are residencies to suit both of these preferences. And there are also those that combine a little of each – in case you want a more balanced atmosphere.
What kind of connections are you looking to make?
Though program sizes vary, many will have at least a few residents at the same time. Maybe you’d rather be in a more specialized program, with artists working in your field. Or, maybe you’re seeking cross-disciplinary exchange.
Does the studio space meet your needs?
It’s not just about having a studio space to work in, the studio environment also has to be suitable for your practice and workflow.
2. Virtual Residency
A residency program doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical place. Changing ideas about space in the digital age have also shaped the format of residencies. And so, the virtual residency was born!
This type of residency takes place completely online. Because of this, not only the art, but the artistic process and discussion become globally and immediately accessible to the public.
You might think that if you’re not a digital artist, then a web residency might not be for you. Though they may be geared towards artists working with digital media, it is not always the case.
Web residencies provide a platform for more open exchange, where a wider audience has immediate access to an artist’s work.
For example, SpeakAIR is a web residency focused on process and exchange. Artist’s do their own research and are encouraged to experiment. The idea is to make the process transparent and engage discussion. The content and form of the artistic research is up to the artist.
But, if you are an artist working with digital technologies and looking for a program and platform to present your work, there are web residencies for that, too. Akademie Schloss Solitude and ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe have a joint web residency program for digital art and web-based practices, for example.
In any case, virtual residencies provide a platform for more open exchange, where a wider (digital) audience has immediate access to an artist’s work. So, even if you’re not a digital artist, a web residency might be something to consider. Especially if travel and/or spending time away from home are not an option.
3. Research Residency
These residencies offer opportunities for artistic research. Since they’re more about developing ideas than producing a finished work, keep in mind that a studio might not be provided.
But, you will likely be given access to certain archives, facilities, experts and/or resources. Some institutions may be more open to different research areas and topics. Though, in many cases, artists are expected to engage with the institution’s collections, site or surroundings.
A research residency might take the form of a university fellowship, for example. There are programs like the Columbia Institute of Ideas and Imagination, which cover a broad scope of different fields and areas of interest. While a research opportunity at the Wellcome Collection, for instance, might invite artists to explore and respond to a particular area of its collection.
Maybe you need access to more varied resources and institutional support to finally carry out that research project you’ve been planning. Or, maybe a particular institution or collection speaks to your interests and you’d like to do some digging. In either case, consider a research residency!
It might sound like we’re just repeating terms, but an artist-in-residence can actually refer to programs within institutions that might not be connected to the arts, at all. In this case, organizations invite and host artists on site to bring in new perspectives.
Did you know there could even be an art residency in an airport? Since 2015, Brisbane Airport has hosted artists-in-residence. Local artists have been invited to perform or produce projects within the airport, interacting with the setting and the people who pass through. And similar residencies exist in other airports, too.
So an artist-in-residence program could be a great way to experience an alternative site. It could get you out of the art box and lead to new perspectives and possibilities for exchange.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a residency program. But try not to get too overwhelmed by all the options. After all, it’s great to know that there might be the perfect opportunity out there for you.
But what if there isn’t!?
Have you considered starting your own? OK, it may not be the simplest option, but it’s certainly a possibility. Collectives or associations of artists can build something new together, by sharing responsibilities and pooling resources. You can develop relationships that may end up leading to new collaborations and even create opportunities for yourself and others.