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OMC Policy Handbook on Artists' Residencies
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While there are perceived imbalances in access to artists residencies within Europe, it has been hard to verify this with data. Anecdotally, we were told that the Northern European countries both fund residencies to a greater extent and their artists have more access to funding than is the case in Southern and Eastern Europe. We are also told that artists from these countries have a preference to go to residencies in the major arts markets – New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Rome etc. There is clearly some truth in this. However, our evidence also showed that lack of traditional funding for residencies in, for example, Eastern Europe is not hindering the flow of artists to these regions.
With regard to destinations for residencies, through am analysis of Dutch Culture/TransArtists website and web statistics,1www.transartists.org the OMC group found that the appetite for more unusual residencies – rural, in non-traditional spaces, thematically based etc. – is large and growing. The notion that artists want to go where the markets are is only a small part of the decision on destination. It was, though, also evident that some residency destinations have greater artistic kudos than others and places are hard fought for in these cases.
There are also clear barriers causing imbalance in the opportunities for artists from outside the EU to access opportunities for residencies inside the EU. The OMC group found, though that these imbalances were the result of greater structural imbalances.
These include differences in: access to information and knowledge, including language barriers; access to funding and differences in living standards among countries. The cost of living and wage levels differ across the world. That means that there will always have to be gap funding to support those coming from different parts of the world. differences in aspiration and career development on the part of the artists. In some parts of the world, artists' career development is very closely linked to their locality, like, for instance, working in schools, community settings, etc. Taking time out can be more difficult in some places than others. different policy objectives in different countries regarding artists’/cultural mobility. The provision of spaces is largely the responsibility of the local governments and their policies or of private sector trusts and foundations. Some countries create strategic alliances with specific countries (e.g. Scotland and Malawi). However they are relatively small in number given the scale of residencies worldwide. a disconnect between Ministries concerned with external relations and foreign policy and Ministries concerned with culture (artistic development) and audience building. This is probably the cause of the greatest disparities in the residency programmes. Most countries, particularly in Europe, have provisions for artists working internationally. But this is very clearly focussed on “outgoing” national artists and their work to other countries rather than the hosting of “incoming” international artists. The notion of the value of reciprocity is strongly missing here. This trend is accumulated due to recent severe budget cuts in the cultural sector throughout Europe. This aspect is only part of the imbalance, and would not be a problem in the case that all countries would only send artists out as that implies that other countries would be hosting them. The imbalance is also caused by the wish of artists themselves to travel to the more cutting edge scenes for contemporary art, which are more attractive as locations. This may eclipse the diversity of the more peripheral residencies on offer.
The problem is a complex one; some governments fund the incoming artists in residence as an incentive.
Last but not least, barriers of, for example, regulatory and/or legislative nature (including social security, work permits and visas) should be also taken into account when considering imbalances.
1     www.transartists.org  »