Artists' residencies (also called artists' communities, colonies, retreats, workspaces, and studio collectives) provide dedicated time and space for creative work. Beyond this core value, these creative communities are a diverse group, and provide artists of all disciplines with many different styles and models of support. Residencies can be found in urban or rural areas, serving one artist at a time or 50.
Some support one artistic genre while many are interdisciplinary, welcoming visual artists, writers, composers, choreographers, scholars and other creative individuals. There are programs that are active centers for public programs and others that offer solitude and retreat. Many provide room and board as a home-away-from-home; others offer not a place to live, but a community for local artists in which to work and be supported in the creation of new art.
Field at a Glance
- an estimated 500 artists’ communities in the US and approximately 1,000 worldwide
- 15,000 artists are in residence each year
- residencies provide $40 million in support to artists annually
- 65% are multidisciplinary, serving visual artists, writers, composers, filmmakers, choreographers, and others
- 60% are in rural areas and small towns, while 40% are in urban areas
- 75% are engaged in eco-stewardship – including historic preservation, land conservation, and sustainable living practices
- 90% have public programs that engage the local community
You may not have heard of artists’ communities, but you’ve most likely heard of the artists they have served, and some of the works that have been created there: Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Gregory MacGuire’s Wicked; Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me With Apples, Tender At the Bone, and Garlic and Sapphires; Thornton Wilder’s Our Town; Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay; Allen Ginsberg, David Sedaris, Marcel Duchamp, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Robert Rauschenberg, James Baldwin, John Lennon, Truman Capote, Bill T. Jones, Spalding Gray, Leonard Bernstein, Edward Albee, Langston Hughes, Liz Lerman, Sylvia Plath, Gwendolyn Brooks, Bob Dylan, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and many, many more.