Amidst the ongoing struggle to obtain government (local, state and federal) support for the nonprofit arts and the din of what once was called the “culture wars” has been a growing interest around the country in helping artists create more work. Some of this has been on the part of government, as one city after another has looked to use grants, loans and tax credits to produce affordable places for artists to live and work, while other programs that financially assist artists are private, nonprofit endeavors (Center for Cultural Innovation, Creative Capital and United States Artists, among others). Another form of help to artists that has been on the rise is residency programs, where artists are provided time and space to do their artwork.
“Most residency programs for artists have been created in the last 30 years,” said Caitlin Strokosch, director of the Alliance of Artists’ Communities (www.artistcommunities.org), which has over 250 members around the United States. She noted that between one-quarter and one-third of the Alliance’s members look principally for emerging to mid-career artists, “and most of the newer programs appear to be aimed at emerging artists.”
The definition of an artist-in-residence program has been expanding with the number of programs. An artist-in-residence at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, for example, is one more adjunct studio faculty member, who (according to the school’s Web site) will “teach and sit in on classes and seminars, supervise students, consult with faculty, and of course demonstrate his/her talents.” The artists-in-residence at Yaddo, the renowned artist community in Saratoga Springs, on the other hand, are housed and fed three meals a day, as well as provided a stipend of varying amounts while given time and space to work on their own art. Between the two is a wide range of variations, including artist communities that one must pay to attend, others that provide housing but no food and no stipends, yet others that require 20 hours per week of community service or groundskeeping or contributing an object the artist has created, and some that are bed-and-breakfasts or resorts holding art workshops.
Approximately 12,000 artists (in literary, performing and visual arts) are in-residence at one retreat or another, and most of them are in rural areas, where the idea is to get away from all the distractions that keep artists from pursuing or completing their work. There are opportunities for fellow resident artists to socialize at Yaddo, for instance, at sit-down breakfasts and dinners in a common room, and people are free to choose their own company in the evenings. However, during the day, artists are expected to work on their own without interrupting others, and bag lunches are left at their studios so that their creativity and thought processes are not disturbed. Yaddo is, perhaps, more than the exception than the rule in the field of artist communities, where being around other artists is often as important as having time and solitude to do one’s work, but in every residency program there is a focus on the work.
“In our definition,” Strokosch said, “an artist-in-residence program provides dedicated time and space for an artist to do work. It’s not permanent, like a live-work site, but usually for between a few weeks and a year. There are also competitive criteria for artists to be there, in that they are selected by some means, such as through jurying or a curator.” Finally, the sponsoring organization need not necessarily be a nonprofit – it may charge fees – but “it is subsidizing artists, for instance by having them pay.
In-residence programs come in a variety of types. The National Park Service (1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240, 202-208-6843, www.nps.gov) has an artist-in-residence program for writers, performing and visual artists, and 29 parks around the country participate. As opposed to artist communities, the National Park Service program brings in one artist at a time. Housing but no stipend is provided, and an individual residency lasts for a period of three weeks. Artists are required to donate to the Park Service’s collection some piece of their art that represents their stay, and they also may be asked to hold a demonstration or a talk for park visitors. Click here to see a list of participating parks.
Most residencies are not free to the participants – even the program of the National Park Service assumes that artists will provide their own food and art materials, as well as pay their rent and any other expenses at home – and finding the means to pay for them is no simple matter. A high percentage of the participants at artists’ communities are faculty members on sabbatical, and summers tend to be when these facilities are most full (“They accommodate academic schedules,” Strokosch said). Others seeking help paying for a residency have some options. A number of state arts agencies around the country offer career and professional development grants to individual artists, which may be used to pay for workshops, seminars, mentoring and specialized training, as well as (in some cases) travel costs to where they will take place. Nineteen states’ arts commissions permit that money to be used to pay residencies at artist communities (Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mo Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington State, West Virginia, and Wyoming).
Additionally, at least one local arts agency (Marin Arts Council, 555 Northgate Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903, 415-499-8350) offers Career Development Grants that help Marin County artists pursue opportunities, such as at an artist community, to further their professional artistic development. The grants go up to $1,500. The Sponsoring Partners program of the Headlands Center for the Arts (944 Fort Barry, Sausalito, CA 94965, 415-331-2787), an artist community, also works with the North Carolina Arts Council and the Ohio Arts Council to underwrite residencies for artists in those states at Headlands.
Several nonprofit organizations allow artists to apply for funding that may be used to pay for the cost of a residency:
400 Sibley Street Suite 125
St. Paul, MN 55101-1928
The Travel and Study Grant Program awards grants to emerging creative artists. Funds support periods of travel for the purpose of study, exploration, and growth. (May be used for residencies when teaching or collaborative activities are involved) Open to residents of Minnesota and New York City.
The Philadelphia Building
1315 walnut street, suite 832
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Specific grants are available for emerging and established women artists. There is also a Window of Opportunity Grant which help artists take advantage of unique, time-limited opportunities that could significantly benefit their work or increase its recognition.
New York Foundation for the Arts
155 Avenue of the Americas, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10013-1507
Strategic Opportunity Stipends (SOS), a project of the New York Foundation for the Arts, working in collaboration with arts councils and cultural organizations across New York State, are designed to help individual artists of all disciplines take advantage of unique opportunities that will significantly benefit their work or career development. Literary, media, visual, music and performing artists may request support ranging from $100 to $600 for specific, forthcoming opportunities that are distinct from work in progress.
Another private funding source, the Herb Alpert Foundation (1414 Sixth Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401-2510, www.herbalpertfoundation.org/foundation_home.shtml), pays for residencies at a shifting group of artist communities. However, recipients of these awards are nominated, and the foundation will not accept applications.
|AcadiaNational ParkArtist-In-Residence Program
P.O. Box 177
Eagle Lake Road
Bar Harbor, Maine04609
|Yosemite RenaissanceP.O. Box 100
Yosemite National Park, CA95389
Yosemite National Park, California95389
|Amistad National Recreation AreaArtist-In-Residence Program
4121 Veterans Boulevard
Del Rio, Texas78840
(830) 775-7491, ext. 211
|Weir Farm TrustArtist-In-Residence Program
735 Nod Hill Road
|BadlandsNational ParkArtist-In-Residence Program
P.O. Box 6
Interior, South Dakota57750
|VoyageursNational ParkArtist-In-Residence Program
3131 Highway 53
International Falls, Minnesota56649-8904
402 N. Walnut
|Sleeping Bear Dunes National LakeshoreArtist-In-Residence Program
9922 Front Street
Empire, Michigan 49630
|Cape Cod National SeashoreProvincetown Community Compact, Inc.
P.O. Box 819
|Saint Gaudens National Historic SiteArtist-In-Residence Program
RR 3, Box 73
Cornish, New Hampshire 03603
(603)675-2175, ext. 107
|CuyahogaValleyNational ParkCVEEC Artist-In-Residence Program
3675 Oak Hill Road
|Rocky MountainNational ParkArtist-In-Residence Program
1000 Highway 36
Estes Park, ColoradoUSA 80517
|Delaware Water Gap National Recreation AreaPetersValleyCraftEducationCenter
19 Kuhn Road
Layton, New Jersey07851
|Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreArtist-In-Residence Program
P.O. Box 40
|DenaliNational Park and PreserveArtist-In-Residence Program
P.O. Box 9
Denali Park, Alaska99755
|NorthCascadesNational Park810 State Route 20
(360) 856-5700, ext. 365
|DevilsTowerNational MonumentWyoming, Montana 82714
|Mount Rushmore National MemorialArtist-In-Residence Program
13000 Hwy. 244, Bldg. 31
Keystone, South Dakota57751
40001 State Road 9336
|MammothCaveNational ParkArtist-In-Residence Program
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky42259
|GlacierNational ParkArtist-In-Residence Program
P.O. Box 128
West Glacier, Montana59936
|JoshuaTreeNational ParkArtist-In-Residence Program
74485 National Park Drive
Twenty-Nine Palms, California 92277
|Golden Gate National Recreation AreaResidency Manager
HeadlandsCenter for the Arts
944 Fort Barry
|Isle RoyaleNational ParkArtist-In-Residence Program
800 East Lakeshore Drive
|Grand CanyonNational ParkArtist-In-Residence Program
P.O. Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ86023
|Indiana Dunes National LakeshoreArtist-In-Residence Program
1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, Indiana 46304-1299
|Herbert Hoover National Historical SiteArtist-In-Residence Program
110 Parkside Drive
PO Box 607
West Branch, Iowa52358
|Hot SpringsNational ParkArtist-In-Residence Program
101 Reserve Street
Hot Springs, AR71901