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What are artist residencies?
Artist residencies provide artists the opportunity to have the space and time to work outside of their usual environment. Often artists travel to residencies abroad or across the country so as to be in a different location and create new work. They can be incredibly helpful for artists who are starting out and who may not be able to work full time on their art as residencies provide the time to focus full time on their work for the duration of the residency.
How to get an artist residency?
All residency applications have different requirements. Nearly all require images of your work, an artist statement as well as resume. However, typically applicants are also asked for a project proposal, letter of motivation, or similar documentation.
There is usually a lot of competition for a spot at a residency! Put your best foot forward and apply well ahead of time allowing you the time to prepare a good application with a thoughtfully written proposal. You can find listings for artist residencies at sites such as artisttrust and callforentry.org. Regularly peruse these sites to find a residency that you might be interested in.
I also recommend looking at the CVs of artists that you admire and seeing which residencies they applied to (if they did go to any). Often the residencies that they attended years ago are listed. If you are wanting to be able to develop your career in a similar way as them then it would not be a bad idea to check out the residencies they went to.
Do you have to pay for residencies or do you get a stipend?
All residencies are different in what they offer to their residents. Some offer free studio space to artists along with free room and board while others might even pay a stipend to those attending. It is more rare to come across residencies that offer a stipend but they are out there. Typically the more prestigious a residency the more they will offer you – but this is not always the case. I would try to stay away from those that ask YOU to pay to attend. Unless you absolutely love the location and everything else about it.
You will find that there are more paid residencies in Europe than in the US as there is more government funding going towards art programs there. Be sure to check out the details of a residency to make sure that it would be realistic for you to attend. For example, if you are looking at a residency in Pennsylvania that offers free room/ board and a studio but no stipend then you need to make sure that you will have enough money for a plane ticket.
Why should you apply for artist residencies?
As already mentioned residencies give artists time and space to work in (hopefully) an inspiring location. Unless the residency you are looking at is a solitary one you will get to meet other artists and exchange ideas with them – enriching your own understanding of art. Another great benefit that comes out of attending residencies is the connections it will give you. Connections mean so much in the art world for better or worse. They can help lead you toward gallery representation, sales or anything else. Regardless, having residencies on your resume will only gain you more attention when it comes to shows, galleries and grants.
Acceptance and Rejection
Rejection is inevitable in any pursuit and that definitely holds true when it comes to applying to artist residencies. Some residencies are very competitive and receive hundreds of applications. If rejection letters are a common occurrence push through and continue to apply to residencies, the magic day will come when you will get an acceptance letter!