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Social-Practice Residencies

Alliance of Artists Communities

ABOUT THE PROJECT

FINDINGS

TOOLKIT

BACKGROUND
While artist residencies have traditionally provided opportunities for artists to work in solitude, many residency programs today are designed specifically around artists engaging the local community. Increasingly, organizations still primarily offering retreat-style residencies are expanding into community-engaged work as well, and looking for best-practices from peers.

In response to these significant shifts in the residency field, we began this discovery project with two guiding questions:

1) How can artist residencies be a platform for engaging communities in meaningful and responsible ways?

2) What do artists need to succeed in community-engaged work, and how best can residency programs serve those needs?

Caversham Centre

“In both individuals and the community, we hope to foster the potential, talents, and courage in facing challenges.” 

- Caversham Centre

DEFINITIONS
Our first challenge was in defining our terms and scope.

Understanding there is incredible expertise already in the field of "social-practice art", our focus is on how this work relates specifically to artist residencies. And while we are interested in how social-practice artists can be better served by residencies of all kinds (including those offering solitude and retreat), we set out to investigate the work of social-practice residencies specifically.

Rather than simply an either-or, most residencies operate along the continuum of retreat-style to community-immersive. Many organizations provide programs for artists-in-residence to engage the public – including open studios, artist talks and readings, performances, workshops, etc. – even while the primary focus is on offering artists a studio-based experience.

In order to focus our investigation, we define social-practice residencies as residency programs that, as a primary goal, enable artists-in-residence to engage in community-based work in significant ways throughout a residency.
 

McColl Center - Ruganzu Play Place

“McColl Center builds connections between artists and residents to alter the perception of the Statesville Avenue Corridor, drawing attention to its rich cultural history and natural resources rather than its collective dysfunction.”

- Lisa Hoffman, Associate Director, McColl Center for Art + Innovation

GOALS
Our goals for this project address the 4 groups engaging in this work:

1) Artist residencies will be better equipped to support artists with a social practice and engage communities in meaningful ways – with a network of peer support and frameworks that have been tested.

2) Artists interested in social-practice residencies will have more opportunities, they will be better served by these programs, and their work will have greater impact.

3) Funders and other stakeholders will have a greater understanding of the critical role residency programs can play in their communities and the value social practice artists bring in addressing the challenging issues of our times. 

4) Community leaders will be better equipped to serve as partners to residency programs and artists with a social practice.  

Our intent is to generate a living field of practice within the artist residency sector that continues to evolve over time, encourages sharing of challenges and successes, and builds upon the significant history and existing expertise in social practice art.

We invite you to join us in this work, and explore the findings and resources within the links above.
 

Kao Lee Thao | Springboard for the Arts

“Think more about what you want the projects to do, and less about what they will be – leave that to the artists to imagine and deliver.”

- Springboard for the Arts 

PROJECT MANAGER
Deb Dormody | Director of Operations + Programs 

AUTHOR
Caitlin Strokosch | Executive Director 

SOCIAL PRACTICE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Katherine Ball | Artist (Copenhagen, DK)
Shana Berger 
| Coleman Center for the Arts (York, AL)    
Stanlyn Breve 
| National Performance Network (New Orleans, LA)   
Sara Coffey 
| Vermont Performance Lab (Guilford, VT)   
Jen Delos Reyes 
| Open Engagement (Portland, OR)  
Linda Earle 
| New York Arts Program (New York, NY)
Gia Hamilton | Joan Mitchell Center (New Orleans, LA)
Lisa Hoffman | McColl Center for Art + Innovation (Charlotte, NC)
Kemi Ilesanmi | The Laundromat Project (New York, NY)  
Ren Morrison | Atlantic Center for the Arts (New Smyrna Beach, FL)
Craig Peterson | Gibney Dance (New York, NY)
Anna Schuleit Haber | Artist (Harrisville, NH)
John Spiak | Grand Central Art Center (Santa Ana, CA)    
Ben Strader | Blue Mountain Center (Blue Mt. Lake, NY)    
Carlton Turner | Alternate ROOTS (Atlanta, GA)  
MK Wegmann | National Performance Network (New Orleans, LA) 

This project is funded in part by support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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