Dynamic Approaches to COVID-19 | #ResidenciesConnect Recap

ACA Staff
March 24, 2020

On March 24th, AAC facilitated one of many field-wide online conversations on COVID-19 resources and approaches for residencies.

This session is part of our #ResidenciesConnect series – bi-weekly, member share-outs that foster small-group exchanges around a variety of topics. The following is an excerpted version of the conversation.

The session was moderated by Lisa Funderburke Hoffman, Executive Director, Alliance of Artists Communities, and the participating organizations included: A Studio in the Woods, Bakehouse Art Complex, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Caldera, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Croft Residency, Elsewhere, Fountainhead Residency, Inc., Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC), Manship Artists Residency + Studios (MARS), Oak Spring Garden Foundation, Oolite Arts, Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists Residency, Prairie Ronde Artist Residency, Ragdale Foundation, Rauschenberg Residency, The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, The Steel Yard, The Studios at MASS MoCA, and Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild.

The comments included in this recap included the following residencies leaders: 

  • Claire Arctander, Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists Residency, Saugatuck, MI
  • Jamie Badoud, The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, Rabun Gap, GA
  • Kathryn Mikesell, Fountainhead Residency, Inc., Miami, FL
  • Jo-Ann Castano, Manship Artists Residency + Studios, Gloucester, MA
  • Laura Novoa, Bakehouse Art Complex, Miami, FL
  • Ann Brady, Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva, Captiva, FL
  • Maesie Speer, Caldera Arts, Portland, OR
  • Carolyn Clayton, the Studios at MassMOCA, North Adams, MA
  • Camille Hill-Prewitt, A Studio in the Woods, New Orleans, LA
  • Matthew T. Giddings, Elsewhere Museum, Greensboro, NC

Lisa Funderburke Hoffman (LH): The question we would like to lead off with today is how residency organizations are thinking about and enacting the process of shutting down facilities.

Claire Arctander : At Ox-Bow, we were fortunate to not have any residents on campus at the time of the outbreak. We have, however, cancelled our spring programming. Ox-Bow is unique in that we offer summer classes for college credit, which is where much of our revenue comes from, but we are looking at having to cancel or reschedule those classes. That revenue loss is forcing us to rethink a lot of our programming.

Jamie Badoud: One unique aspect of our residency is that each resident has their own house. It is easy not to interact with others, so we have been operating more or less as usual, save for some changes in how we serve food. We have cancelled future residents, however, and are discussing the possibility of opening our campus to program alumni who need somewhere to quarantine safety. We have access to a hospital and a grocery store, but there are still many unknowns.

 Jo-Ann Castano: We have been thinking about doing something similar, but trying to be mindful of how the community might respond to bringing artists in when resources are already stretched thin. In addition - what would our responsibilities be if an artist becomes sick?

LH: I’d like to direct you all to the CDC’s resources and adhere to their guidance wherever possible. I’ll also remind you to be mindful of supply chains. Think through what you need to maintain the appropriate level of cleanliness in your spaces.

Laura Novoa : At the Bakehouse Art Complex, we are a studio residency, and our 65 or so residents share common maker-space facilities such as a ceramics studio and woodshop. We have a maintenance manager on site, but I do wonder what everyone else feels as far as staying open to those artists. We are closed to the public, and we do have protocol in place for illness. We use Trello for our communications, which is where I post COVID-19 resources regularly.

LH: For those of you who have had to cancel programs, are you thinking of offering alternatives? How are you adjusting your programming?

Kathryn Mikesell: We are starting to do virtual studio visits through Instagram live, and giving artists creative freedom with how and what to present. We’ve also started doing one-on-one Zoom studio visits. We are starting a hashtag #ArtistsOpenOnline, where artists post works for sale – we are supposed to have a program on May 9 called Artists Open, and we want to give people the chance to see those artists’ work. 100% of the money goes to artists. We are also putting together an online classroom platform for artists to teach classes. We are hoping artists can feel like they are still connected. Communities still want to engage with us. Everything we are doing is free.

LH: And how are you all caring for staff at this time?

Ann Brady: We have a small staff and 20 acres, so we can continue to work and be separated. We are doing daily check-ins, and making sure to see how people are doing personally. We are also giving people the option to work from home, and asking people to come up with at-home projects, because we may soon all be required to work from home. So we are thinking about training manuals and other projects that we don’t usually have time for. I think we are moving a little slower and more thoughtfully than normal.

Maesie Speer: We have added some social hangouts to shared calendars so staff can check in with each other on a personal level. We are also checking in with staff to make sure everyone has the ability to shelter in place safely. And we are considering making cabins on campus available for staff in case they don’t have a safe option for sheltering in place.

LH: What is your rescheduling process looking like? How far out are you scheduling artists?

Carolyn Clayton: We are currently closed until May 12. We typically have 12 artists at a time, for about 4 weeks, and when the pandemic hit we had to send all 12 artists home early. So in rescheduling, we are trying to prioritize those artists whose sessions were interrupted. Right now we are rescheduling out into fall and winter, and offering refunds for artists who can no longer come to residency.

Camille Hill-Prewitt: We are a small org, hosting up to 3 residents at a time. We have one local immune compromised artist who chose to stay because he feels safer in the woods. We have restricted staff to bring him groceries, etc. We cancelled some residents who were scheduled – but most of our spring residents were local artists, so we can hold some space open for them in case the situation improves. We are committed to making sure that artists get the funds they were supposed to get, but we don’t know WHEN we are going to distribute those – whether that should be now, or at the time of their residency.

The full recording of this session is available to AAC members upon request.

Do you want to connect with like-minded leaders or an affinity group? #ResidenciesConnect sessions are also hosted and led by leaders in the residency field. Sign for an affinity group today to find your people. 



In addition to this program, we continue to collect and share relevant resources from the residency field through our FAQ for Residency Practitioners and our Residency Preparedness + Response to COVID-19 Guide. Contribute your organization's resources/documents/communications through this Google form.