(originally published in Artist Trust's Art Source, Winter 2007; updated December 2010)
Residencies are programs designed to provide artists with a specific amount of time, and some or all of the amenities required, for activities related to the solitary or collaborative creation of art.
Facilitated by organizations and individuals, there are hundreds of residency programs available to artists throughout the United States and abroad. Locations for residencies can be remote or urban; sites are as varied as landscaped estates to converted factories.
Residencies are available to artists of all disciplines at all stages of their professional development. Amenities provided by residency programs may include studio space, housing, and access to facilities (such as print studios, kilns, sound and technology studios and rehearsal space), monetary stipends (for food, travel and discretionary spending) and much more. While amenities certainly help facilitate the production of art, the core feature offered by a residency is time. To help ensure that time is well spent in both the search for a residency and the residency itself, here are some things to consider:
Are you ready to apply? Residencies require applications that can range from simple requests for information with work samples to more complex requests and dissertations. Make sure your professional documents (résumé, work samples, biography, bibliography, artist statement, curriculum vitae, supplemental materials, letters of recommendation, etc.) are updated and in order.
Will you be ready when the date arrives? Keep in mind that you most likely will not be leaving for your residency immediately. Residencies may take place months or even years after you are accepted.
Is the environment that the residency offers conducive to your creative process? Consider that residencies may offer you anything from a safe place to throw down your sleeping bag to a comprehensive working environment. Make sure it is an environment that will stimulate your vision.
Is your personal life in order? Although some residencies do offer additional accommodations for children and significant others, most likely this will be time away from family.
Is your financial life in order? A residency will likely involve some financial commitment from you and thus require some fiscal planning on your part. Remember that arrangements will need to be made for your personal finances while you are away. If you are worrying about your bills, you will not be concentrating on your work.
Finally, remember to not get discouraged. Applying for residencies is a competitive process. Keep creating your work and keep applying!
Selected Washington State Organizations That Provide Residency Programs: