The Five Pillars of a Healthy Residency

A Primer and Introduction
Lisa Funderburke
August 11, 2020

Authored by Lisa Funderburke

Updated: June 2023

Five Pillars of a Healthy Residency is a framework and diagnostic tool developed by ACA President + CEO, Lisa Funderburke. The tool is designed to help artist residencies of all types develop a holistic understanding of their organization and identify factors that contribute to or impede their mission’s sustainability, growth and advancement. The Five Pillars are Identity, Program Design, Operations, Resource Development, and Stewardship. Here’s a summary of each, followed by questions to ask your team, stakeholders, and organization: 



Organizations must know who they are. That is, why you do what you do. This is expressed through your purpose, brand and culture and how they work together. 

Questions to ask: What is our purpose? Why do we exist? Why are we here? What is our brand? How are we known to the world? How do we live and how do we do things around here?

Program Design

Organizations must know not only what they aim to do but also who their core constituents are (those receiving and providing services), their roles in your organization, and what activities support those individuals.

Questions to ask: Who are your core constituents? What activities does your organization offer? How does your organization facilitate those experiences?


Organizations must plan their work and work their plans while ensuring infrastructure is in place to support those plans. 

Questions to ask: How do we get the work done? Do people have the right tools, resources, technology and an understanding of processes to contribute to that work being completed?

Resource Development

Organizations must clearly understand their identity, their core constituents, and how they’ll achieve organizational goals. Only then can organizations know what resources, time, money, skills, relationships, etc. are necessary to power their work.

Questions to ask: Do we have a resource development plan? 


Organizations must actively demonstrate care for artists, staff, partners, the land they occupy, and the communities in which they exist for artists and staff to thrive. Care within organizations shows up in a multitude of ways.

Questions to ask: How does your organization show care? How do you know your actions match your intent? How do you tend to the impact of your actions?


The Five Pillars of a Healthy Residency framework was developed to contribute not only to the stability of artist communities but also to help them build their “equitable capacity,” which we define as the facility or power to embody equity across all areas of an organization, specifically its policies, process and practices. Additionally, the Five Pillar framework is intended to drive systemic changes within organizations, to move all social groups toward an accessible, fair, just, and joyful residency experience while centering the needs of the historically marginalized. It is an outcome-oriented approach to developing strategies that create inclusivity while mitigating forces of structural exclusion.


If your organization wants to be part of the ACA learning cohort for refining and using this tool, please contact:

info [at]