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OMC Policy Handbook on Artists' Residencies
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Benefits and success factors for preparing, organising 35 and following-up residencies
4.1 Benefits of artists' residencies programmes
The OMC group felt that the benefits of artists' residencies programmes are undervalued and that advocacy for the practice is weak. The group felt that Europe is entering a time when cultural diversity and intercultural understanding are more important than ever and that the mobility of artists in general and artists’ residencies programmes in particular can play a significant role in this respect.
The OMC group has identified a range of common benefits to the sector:
Artists' professional development; Economic benefits for the artist, the host, the region, etc.; Cultural development for the artist, the host organisation, the local community; Organisational learning and capacity building for the host organisation and for community organisations; Profile raising, particularly for the city/region where the residency is located.
The benefits extend to all parties involved in artists’ residencies.
4.1.1 For the Artist
Artists’ residencies are centres of professionalization for the artist that provide opportunities for creative investment, development of ideas and connections. They offer high level research that is not available in other forms. In addition, they provide the artist with a range of resources both economical and professional: a stipend, facilities and tools, professional feedback and opportunities to develop their networks, contacts and audiences. They can offer access to new technologies, partnerships and funding streams as well as, in some circumstances, lead to the development of new products and ideas that expand the artists’ oeuvre. The experience of being in residence also builds capacity for cultural awareness and competence, for organisational development, personal development and managerial skills.
4.1.2 For the host organisations
Hosting artists from different cultural and professional backgrounds offers the host opportunities to gather experience and develop long lasting relations within Europe and internationally. The host can also make links, through the artists, to wider networks of international artists and cultural organisations in other countries, as well as to funding agencies and diplomatic players.
The residency of international artists can offer opportunities to the host of enriching their programme and enhancing their ability to reach out to new audiences. This contributes to the enlivening of the local cultural scene. International artists in residence serve to increase the reputation of the host facility as well as that of the locality, giving the local authorities and agencies opportunities to raise the profile of the region as one that embraces cultural diversity and international links. The mobility of European artists through artists' residencies programmes is necessary to stimulate a richer European cultural ecology that will contribute to a stronger climate of innovation and creativity.
4.1.3 For the funding organisations
For many funding organisations, particularly trusts and foundations, the benefits are outlined in their mission and objectives, i.e. to support exchange of cultural knowledge or to promote diversity or in the case of arts funding agencies, to offer professional development for artists. A residency often provides a clear way of reaching these objectives. However, there are a number of positive externalities that ensue from engagement with residencies too. These include rising of the profile of these organisations, particularly to new audiences and in new territories. They can contribute to cultural diplomacy which can impact on the wider relationships in trade, commerce and political relations. In addition, the public programme can put funders more closely in touch with wider local opinion and attitudes which can be fed back into policy and approaches to engagement with the public. Funders with a specific social mission can extend their reach and also their own intercultural competence, exchange and dialogue.
4.1.4 For the local communities
Artists’ residencies frequently have public programmes embedded in their programme. This means that the local community has opportunities to engage with the artists or their work either through programmes at the host organisations premises or in an outreach programme at a community facility. Thus, the artists’ residency can provide cultural enrichment of the community in a number of ways: by providing a platform for collaboration with the creative process, by participating in events or by being the audience for work or work in progress. The residency can help to develop awareness, knowledge and understanding between different groups in society. Often the work that is created in the residency remains for community use (performances, public art, exhibitions, interactions), that improves the quality of life of the public. It can enhance the public realm; create a renewed sense of confidence and sense of place. Many of the participatory projects also have a positive impact on local people’s engagement in society and can be a catalyst in developing entrepreneurial skills.
4.1.5 For the city/regional/national level
At this level, the impacts depend very much on the initial engagement of the authorities. At best, the city/regional/national authorities can engage in the residency programme through funding, promotion and evaluation. Where this happens, the authorities benefit through increasing the organisational skills of their workforce, fostering intercultural dialogue through engagement with the artist and enhancing the promotion of their city/region/state as a creative, dynamic, culturally aware place. These qualities are vital in the “Creative City” and, by extension, in successful dynamic economically viable cities/regions/states.
Cities have engaged artists’ residencies in successful regeneration strategies. There are many examples how artists’ residencies has provided much needed dynamism to depressed parts of cities and that in turn has led to development of small businesses, services and transformation of neighbourhoods (see chapter 3).
Table I below summarises these benefits.
4.2 Critical success factors for artists’ residencies programmes
To tackle this core issue of its mandate, the OMC group took into account the results of the desk research carried out by one of its members.1Researcher Mr Aleksander Pałasiński, National Centre for Culture, Warsaw, Poland. The goal was to pull together research work previously done on artists’ residencies, including the context of artists’ mobility more in general. The results are found in Annex 4.
Our view is that the sector is already providing its peers with guidance on the practical operation of residencies which we would not wish to duplicate. The OMC group, however, identified some key issues that recur when we interrogated practitioners in the field in preparing, carrying out and following-up artists’ residencies.
These critical success factors are set out in the table below, but they crucially include: The importance of setting clear objectives and understanding what each partner wishes to achieve through the residency; Communicating those objectives and being clear about needs, conditions and expectations for the residency; Allocating sufficient time for planning, research and negotiation; Allocating sufficient time for practical issues such as visa (in the case of international artists) and other regulatory issues; Allocating sufficient time for fundraising if necessary; Researching and understanding the culture of the artist, the organisation, the city/region/nation both in terms of the overarching culture and the institutional culture; Being sensitive and listening to the other partners involved. Building trust and understanding; Creating an operational plan to include ancillary activities, networking and profile raising; Having a communications strategy both for the individual and the organisation.
Moreover, the OMC group identified some “common needs” by all major stakeholders. In order for artists’ residencies to be successful and to maximise their impacts, these needs should be addressed. They are:
Information needs – the importance of good quality information on residencies; Training and capacity building needs – both artists, hosts, local authorities and community groups would like to have more training in developing competence in running residencies, getting the most out of residencies, cultural awareness and competences, etc.; Funding and fund raising – where this is not already in place, there is a need to strengthen the ability of all stakeholders to raise adequate funds; Attitudinal issues – building institutional awareness and emotional resilience is vital for successful residencies; training and communication can help to develop them; Management and organisational development – international working of all kinds creates new stresses and strains in management; good practice is more important in these circumstances; Communication – all stakeholders can gain significantly from the experience of the residency and yet, frequently the idea of communicating this to peers, authorities, the press and the public is left until the end and not given adequate resources to be achieved successfully; Evaluation and feedback – critical to the success of programmes is good evaluation, as well as feeding this evaluation back to the partners.
The following table schematises the key success factors. It outlines their importance in the preparation, organisation and follow-up of artists' residencies specified for different and directly involved target groups:
Artists Host organisations Funders Local Community Cities/regions/nations
1     Researcher Mr Aleksander Pałasiński, National Centre for Culture, Warsaw, Poland.  »