Thursday, September 10, 2009


Here are some FAQs for those who want to learn more about residencies, artist colonies, retreats and AIRs (Artist-in-Residence Programs):

Q: What's the difference between a residency, a retreat, an artists' colony and an AIR (Artist-in-Residence)?

A: Residencies: When I talk about residencies on my blog, I'm generally referring to artists' foundations/institutions that offer a place to live and work for a set period of time, places such as Yaddo, Ragdale, MacDowell and the like. These are also known as "artist colonies" but I find that this term is used less and less as the years go by. Most places like the ones I just mentioned offer artists, writers, composers etc. respite from their normal routine. Often (but not always) there is no fee and the length of time one can stay varies (from two weeks to up to two months, but some are longer.) Usually food is provided and sometimes the artist is even cooked for! There is studio space provided for visual artists and other facilities for composers and dancers, if the residency can provide pianos, recording equipment, etc. Basically, a residency or colony offers much needed solitude and time.

Retreats: Although some residencies advertise their place as a 'retreat' away from the artist's normal life, retreats are something else. One example of a retreat would be my friend Patricia Lee Lewis' Patchwork Farm Retreat where writers can take workshops, or travel together and write while studying yoga, etc. AROHO's (A Room of Her Own Foundation) is another example. It's a summer retreat in New Mexico where women writers get together to attend workshops, to network, to write, to rest and replenish their creative juices. VERY DIFFERENT than going to a residency at a place like MacDowell Colony, where the writer works all day in his/her room and only join others for dinner and the occasional (and optional) evening reading or studio visit. Retreats also cost money, while many residencies, if you get accepted, are free or if they aren't free, they often offer need-based financial aid. And retreats tend not to be competitive and operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. That's not to say that they aren't valuable! Many people get a lot out of them and I recommend them highly for those who are seeking a therapeutic and creative experience.

Artist-in-Residence Programs are usually hosted by an institution (college, foundation, etc.) and generally last longer than a normal "residency" at an artist colony. Some last for a semester or a year and very often, the artist is given a stipend. They often involve involvement with the community, either academic community or the community at large. They all vary but most AIRs require the artist to participate by giving workshops or readings, i.e. some event for the public.

Q: How long can I stay at a residency?

A: Most residencies at artist colonies are from two weeks to two months, although some are longer (but not much longer). There are ones that offer time and space to artists, writers, etc. for longer periods, such as the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which last seven months I think. There is the Artist-in-Residence Program in Roswell, New Mexico (which I posted about here.) and that program is for one entire year. You get a house and stipend and can even have your family with you! (That is, IF you want them!). There are also ones in Europe that I have come across that offer places to stay for extended periods of time. For more information on the distinction between residencies, retreats, etc., go here (Washington Art) for more info.

Q: Where is the best place to look for residencies?

A: On Mira's List of course! Must you ask? Go to my labels on the right side bar, scroll down and click on "residencies." And for other sites to visit, there are none better than these (they are also listed on my sidebar in the links section, further down): Artist Communities, Res Artis, and Trans Artists.

Q: Can I apply for a Fulbright Grant to help fund a residency overseas?

A: Nope. Absolutely not. For more on Fulbright Grants, click here.

Q: I'm a very emerging writer and haven't had anything published yet. Can I still apply for a residency at an artist colony?

A: In most cases, you do have to have at least some publishing history, even if it is only a couple stories or essays published in a literary journal. However, it really depends on which place you are applying to. Read the eligibility requirements. Some places, like Yaddo, are very hard to get into and I wouldn't bother applying unless you have published. Other places are more open to emerging writers and artists. You just have to check on the website and if you can't find your answer, email the place to find out.

Q: I'm an emerging artist and haven't had any exhibitions yet. Can I still apply for a residency at an artist colony?

A: Please see the above answer because the same applies to you.

Q: I just got accepted to a residency overseas but don't have enough money to pay for all my travel expenses. Where can I look for funding?

A: This is probably my most frequently asked question. Finding funding for travel is the toughest thing to find. Here are a few suggestions: * Go to the links section on my side bar and check out those sites. * go to Trans Artists and click on their "funding" link to see what you can find. * Google the embassy or cultural council sites of the country you want to visit. * Contact the residency and ask them for ideas. * See if the country you want to stay in has a partnership with another country. For example, Japan and America have a special cultural relationship. The Japan-US Friendship Commission helps individual artists fund their international projects. The American-Scandinavian Foundation also offers funding for projects in Scandinavia. You MUST apply for these grants way in advance! * Go to university grant databases. Leave no stone unturned as this is the hardest thing to fund!

Q: Are international artists allowed to apply to U.S. residencies?

A: In most cases, yes! But always double-check with the institution. And if it is a residency or AIR that involves a long stay, i.e. longer than the normal tourist visa allotment (usually three months), you have to check with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to see what the visa requirements are.

Q: Can my family stay with me if I get a residency?

A: If it is at a U.S. artist colony (residency), most likely no. Although the one I mentioned above, the program in Roswell, New Mexico, allows families. Some European residencies offer accommodations for families and some let families stay for part of the time. Some do not. You just have to check on the institution's website for their rules.

Q: I want to go to an artist colony with another artist so we can work for a month on our artistic collaboration. What should I do?

A: First check if the place you want to go to offers what you are looking for. Most places state that each artist must apply separately, even if they are collaborating on a project. But then you run the risk of only one of you getting in. When I come across a residency that is specifically looking for collaborative applicants, I label it, so always check my sidebar labels. I have noticed a trend of there being more and more collaborative residencies, which is great!

Q: Are artist colonies/residencies accessible for disabled artists?

A: Some are and some aren't. And most often than not, they will tell you right on their website. If you have special needs, never hesitate to write the institution and ask. Some places have really done some great things the past few years as far as accessibility goes. The Millay Colony in Austerlitz, New York, has an entire building completely designed for disabled artists, writers, etc. A couple years ago, I stayed in Ragdale's accessible artist studio and it was wonderful!

Q: How can I tell if the residency I want to apply for has an artist studio with natural light? That's really important to my work!

A: Why don't you write an email to them and ask them? And often, residency websites describe studios, performance spaces, housing, etc. in detail.

Q: How much in advance should I apply for a residency?

A: Most places have deadlines a couple times a year and are on a seasonal cycle. Some have open deadlines and you can apply at anytime. My rule of thumb is this: if you want to apply for a grant or a residency or fellowship, plan A YEAR IN ADVANCE. At the very least, plan six months before the time you want to go away.

Q: Can I bring my dog to a residency?

A: Don't I wish! I don't even bother applying to places anymore because I can't take little Sadie with me. Seems like a dumb rule, right? Oh well. Such is life. If anyone comes across a dog-friendly residency, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! Of course, you can bring a seeing-eye/companion dog in some places (you must double-check though). But you can't bring Fido just for company I'm sorry to say. I did run across one place in upstate NY that is a short-term sound artist residency and they say you can bring dogs. I'll have to search for that one....can't find it right now.

Q: Will you help me find a residency and help me find money to fund it?

A: While that would be a dream come true for any artist, it's just not going to happen, sorry to say. I do a lot of research and I do it all for free. My blog is specifically designed to help people help themselves. I want artists to be resourceful, read my articles, and use the labels and links on the sidebar to find what they need.

Q: Can I send you my residency application to look at?
A: You are joking, right?

Welcome to Mira's List

This blog provides information on upcoming grants, fellowships and residencies for artists, writers, composers, and media artists. It is for serious professionals only, from emerging to mid-career to established. I also publish information for graduate students from time to time. However, I do not publish information on exhibition or publishing opportunities, nor do I advertise artist retreats and workshops that charge money. At least that is my current policy. For more info on where to exhibit or publish, please see my links section which I try to periodically update. I sift through hundreds of search engines and websites to find opportunities for YOU dear artist. In return, I ask you to pass the information along to those who need it. Also, since this is a free blog, I don't always have the time to weed carefully through everything. If you find a grant or website or residency that is not up-to-date, is dodgy in some way, or is no longer in existence, please let me know! Also, if you stay somewhere at one of the residencies I suggest and have a good experience, I want that feedback too. Please check my FAQs at the top right side bar if you have questions before starting your search. Best wishes and happy hunting!