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OMC Policy Handbook on Artists' Residencies
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Networks, networking and platforms for artists
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The OMC group considered that one of the critical success factors for the residency programmes is the extent to which participants, hosts and funding bodies create and maintain networks. These networks increase the impacts and the legacy of the programmes. Cultural networking enables exchange of ideas and art practices, information gathering and contacts among art organisations, art groups, centres and institutes, as well as individual artists and cultural professionals in all artistic and creative fields. Networking facilitates the enhancement of mutual understanding and cooperation, the sharing of skills and knowledge, as well as further development of local, regional and international art scenes.
Networks are not a given matter. They differ in character depending on the line of work. Some of the key elements for establishing successful networks include: having something specific to offer (knowledge, experience, contacts), proactive approach, expertise, willingness to lend skills and knowledge.
A network is comprised of partners from both art and non-art fields that have the ability to evolve in all possible directions, including merging of individual and organisations’ networks.1The OMC group members are indebted to their Maltese colleague Mr Patrick Fenech, St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Valetta, for contributing the network graph.
networks
Networking is important in the context of residencies as it helps to extend the short-term benefits of the experience into long-term ones. Networks offer tangible and intangible benefits to all involved.
Short-term benefits visible within the term of a residency include:
● efficiency in research and communication (saving time and resources);
● drawing inspiration from the fresh environment and culture;
● enabling cooperation with the local art institutions and art schools;
Long-term benefits (skills, development, training):
● bridging between arts community and all other sectors;
● greater visibility for the artists;
● improved relations between countries – political and cultural diplomacy;
● reducing imbalances between incoming and outgoing artists;
● enabling cooperation with the host organization in the time period after the residency is over;
● enabling on-going cooperation with the local art institutions, art schools, local community;
● initiating platforms for artists to share experiences of participation on residencies (e.g. education, lessons learned from good/bad practice).
Networks can be established at regional, national and international level, with a member base that is fluid, open and dynamic, oriented towards a wide range of issues related to artists' residencies programmes or targeting one specific aspect of the practice.
At the international level, umbrella networks include:
> Res Artis, worldwide network of residency centres; large membership within Europe. (www.resartis.org)
> Pépinières européennes pour jeunes artistes. Offers residencies for artists up to 35 years old in collaboration with partners across Europe and beyond. (www.art4eu.net)
> Performing Artists in Residence network (to address specific needs of international productions in the field of performing arts), like FACE (Fresh Arts Coalition Europe www.fresh-europe.org/) and IETM (International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts http://ietm.org/).
At the national and regional networks: encompassing art organizations and residencies from the specific region, enabling networking between themselves as well as with other regional or international networks. Examples include:
> Art Motile resource on Spanish Artists in Residence programmes and centres (http://www.artmotile.org/)
Specific interest networks - networking initiated from the umbrella network (encompassing programs also outside cultural sector), including art organization and art festival, and opening regional networking for East European countries that are not members of the EU.
freeDimensional advances social justice by hosting activists in art spaces and using cultural resources to strengthen their work (artists, activists and journalists experiencing censorship, xenophobia and/or economic hardship) (http://freedimensional.org/)
Good Practice Networks/Platforms/Resources information and services to artists, residencies and artists’ mobility:
> DutchCulture|TransArtists www.transartists.org
> Nordic Culture Point www.kknord.org
> Touring Artists Germany www.touring-artists.info
 
1     The OMC group members are indebted to their Maltese colleague Mr Patrick Fenech, St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Valetta, for contributing the network graph.  »