What am I Talking About?

What do I mean when I say “people, places, and organizations that support, enable, and influence artists and their creative process”? Well, artist residency programs are a large part of that. If you are unfamiliar, residency programs, at their core, provide research and development time for all manner of creative people (visual artists, musicians, dancers, writers, choreographers, and beyond). There are many models but the common denominator is that they provide dedicated time and space away from the challenges of everyday life for the creation of new art and all that that entails. Some are in beautiful rural landscapes (here’s a look into the MacDowell Colony. The video provides a fantastic introduction to what these programs do) while others are in an urban environment (the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council blows my mind). Some are built to provide solitude and others are intense, collaborative, idea incubation periods. Not every program has an open call for applicants but most do. In that instance there is a jury process to choose the artists who will participate. Other programs have invite only residencies. An artist’s stay can be anywhere from a couple weeks to a year long. Most of the time housing is provided. Sometimes stipends are provided to help with the everyday cost of attending. Other programs require you to pay but there are often scholarships available. For this blog I am most interested in writing about the programs that are a bit more unusual in structure, place, or concept; the ones with fresh ideas about artist communities, the ones that are adapting and innovating to their surroundings or financial restrictions, and the ones that  are created in unexpected organizations or businesses.

There are also organizations that provide resources for artists and makers that are generally hard to come by if you are no longer in art school or the like. Things like print shops for silkscreen, etching and lithography, media labs with expensive technology, welding facilities, traditional photography equipment, etc.. These places often offer affordable prices, training, and workspace available to the public.

Financial resources may be one of the hardest to come by. Luckily there are a bunch of innovative foundations, government organizations, and newer projects like Kickstarter to consider when trying to fund your work. I’ll touch on some of that as well.

The people that create projects, programs and organizations like these are treasures. Their work is dedicated to helping other creators realize their ideas because they believe that art and making are integral to a healthy society. Amen. How did they conceive of their program or project? How did they get community support and funding? What is the strategy for the future? I will be asking these questions with the intention of exposing interesting program models in the hopes of seeing them replicated.

I’m only scratching the surface here! There’s so much, really. Next we dig in!

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