Artist Colonies & Residency Programs

Artist Colonies & Residency Programs

Artist Colonies and Residency programs can be found throughout the world and are places where artists may live for a specific period of time (four weeks to twelve months) in an atmosphere conducive to reflection on their creative work, process and practice.  These types of collaborative, creative environments afford artists the opportunity to have the time, space and materials needed to create new work or to focus on their work-related research. It is that opportunity that has made artists colonies a much sought after hiatus from the normal work- day routines of most artists.

Artist colonies and residency programs have a formal process of invitation that includes a review of an artist’s works and an application.  Art colonies and residency programs exist for most every arts discipline and are a well-known resource in the history of support for individual artists.

If you are interested in applying for a residency, it is best to do your research first. Find out the timeline for the application and acceptance process, cost to the artist (if one exists), responsibilities of resident artists while on site and the location of the hosting colony or residency venue.

Well Known Artist Colonies

  • Art Farm (Marquette, NE) residencies for emerging or established artists in all disciplines.
  • Fine Arts Works Center (Provincetown, MA) long-term residency program for emerging visual artists and writers.
  • John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, WI)residency program that offers a unique collaboration between arts and industry for emerging and established visual artists.
  • The Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh, PA)residency program is year-round and is open to visual artists, performance artists and sound artists.
  • McColl Center for Visual Art (Charlotte, NC)  residencies for emerging, and mid-career artists in sculpture, painting, technology/media, photography, ceramics, installations and community art.
  • Millay Colony for the Arts (Austerlitz, NY)  residency program open to visual artists and composers.
  • Ox-bow (Saugatuck, MI) residencies for artists of all disciplines.
  • Ragdale (Lake Forest, IL) an artist’s retreat for visual artists, writers, composers, and interdisciplinary artists.
  • Skowhegan (Madison, Maine)  intensive nine-week summer residency program for emerging visual artists.
  • Thurber House (Columbus, Ohio) annual residencies for writers.
  • Vermont Studio (Johnson, Vermont)residences for visual artists and writers.
  • Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild (Woodstock, NY) residency program for artists of color working in the photographic arts.
  • Yaddo (Saratoga Springs, NY)  artist’s colony for artists working in choreography, film, literature, musical composition, painting, performance art, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video.

Professional Development

Professional Development

Professional Development opportunities for artists may range from attending conferences to taking courses to making presentations about your work.  The value of each professional development opportunity is it allows you to gain important tools and skills that inform your artistic practice and goals.

Networking Strategies- Peer Reviews & Critiques

Before social networks, artists would often share ideas in peer group discussions or peer critiques of artworks.  While these types of critiques are most often found in academic environments, there are options available for artists to create a community of like-minded peers outside of an academic setting.

An informal peer review is just that, an opportunity to meet with other artists in your discipline to discus and offer critiques of each other’s work in an environment of mutual respect. There are no set standards for when or how a peer review or critique should happen. Sometimes artists who share a common discipline find it beneficial to meet regularly to share networking opportunities and to offer feedback and constructive criticism of each other’s works.  It is a voluntary and open process, the design and frequency of which is left to the participants.

Teaching Opportunities- Workshops & Public Presentations

You have skills that would benefit and be of interest to others not only in your immediate peer group but in the community at-large.  As an artist you may want to think about hosting workshops or public presentations for the community around your art-making practices and process.  These sessions may be more informal than a class you might design and teach at a local university and college.

These informal teaching opportunities are valuable not only to you as the artist/presenter but also to the community experiencing your work in an entirely different setting.  In addition, these opportunities may offer a new revenue stream, or increase your accessibility. Most importantly, you can inspire people and help demystify your creative profession.

Some Examples

  • A writer hosting a workshop at a local book store to share ideas for writing short stories and exploring ways to find publications to accept those stories.
  • A visual artist hosting an “open studio” event in coordination with other artists to invite the general public in to see past and current works and processes.
  • A playwright inviting the community to attend a “workshopped” reading of a play in progress to solicit feedback.

Sometimes an artist will self-design opportunities in partnership with community businesses and/or arts organizations (as in the examples noted here). Other times, artists will be invited directly by an arts or cultural organization to participate in a sponsored workshop or lecture.  By becoming involved with arts and cultural organizations in your community (as well as local businesses) you increase your ability to participate in these types of events.

Teaching Artists

If you’re interested in K-12 arts education, becoming a teaching artist or developing your teaching skills, there are a number of resources you can tap in to locally and nationally:

Evaluate Your Performance

Evaluate Your Performance

Measurement is an important and sometimes overlooked component of any project or ongoing professional endeavor. If you are working on a finite project or event, keep records of attendance; poll your audience and track comments, suggestions, stories and ideas that are generated as a result of your work. For ongoing ventures, you might send a quarterly or annual survey to participants, partners or stakeholders to track any transactional data and measure those outcomes over time.

Looking at stories or numbers side-by-side can give you an interesting and often unexpected picture of your work. You can see where you were successful and where there may be weaknesses. You may see bits of information that point to the need for an additional skill set or a collaboration or partnership. Comments may reveal unintended consequences—good or bad—of decisions you made throughout the creative process.

In addition to surveying your audience or clients, get feedback from your collaborators, peers, advisors and funders either formally or informally.  This may include scheduling an informal discussion to talk about your performance or work to gain additional insights.

Developing a Survey

Developing a good survey can become its own art form. There are a number of consultants and research firms who are dedicated to asking the right questions, in the right order and collecting them in the most appropriate manner. Without hiring a consultant, there are a few tips we can share to help you develop an effective survey and analyze the results:

  • Take time and care in crafting your questions. It’s not uncommon to spend the majority of your time just figuring out what questions to ask.
  • Be strategic. It’s important to ask targeted questions, rather than every possible question you can think of. This shows respect for your survey taker’s time and will help prevent data overload during your analysis.
  • Don’t build assumptions into your survey. When putting together your survey questions, avoid asking leading questions or building emotion into the survey. This will allow you to stay as objective as possible.
  • Put your most important questions upfront. The rate of people completing the final questions of a survey tends to be far less than the rate of completion for those asked first.
  • Go through the entire process with an open mind. You’ll likely get a wide range of responses, but remember not to take anything personally. Instead, focus on how you can constructively use all positive, negative and neutral information to make your work even better in the future.

Social Media & Blogging

Social Media & Blogging

Online Social Networks

Social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, MySpace or Twitter can be an effective way to market events and public presentations.  These sites can also be helpful in selling your art work, posting performances, engaging in discussions with audiences and fans, and researching new opportunities and ideas.  Before you start popping up new profiles all over the internet, think about why you’re online, who you’re trying to reach and how you plan to engage with each site. Different sites have different purposes, users and functionalities. You may want to write down goals and research your market to build a strategy before you embark on or refine your social media presence.

Once you’ve decided where you want to be, keep the conversation going. The one thing all social media sites have in common is that they are designed to be social. Comment on posts, share links and solicit comments from other members of the community.


Blogs are another way to inform the public about your artistic process, philosophy and creative vision. There are many examples of artist’s blogs online that contain links to Facebook or Twitter to enhance networking possibilities. Developing your personal blog does not have to be a daunting task.  You can create a WordPress blog relatively easily free of charge.

Once you have the design of your blog, you can create posts and invite discussions about your philosophy, current work and future directions. Write about what you know, and offer content that others can use (advice, trends, information about a technique you use, etc.). Blogs are also a good way to initiate peer discussions about common issues and to discuss best practices for your work as an artist.  Expand your network and increase visibility by linking to other artist blogs, curating outside content and inviting other writers as guest bloggers.

Most importantly, Blogs help artists establish an online presence.  So whether you decide “to Blog” or “not to Blog,” you owe it to yourself to do some research on the benefits.

There are many informational sites that can provide suggestions and tips for creating an effective blog that matches your style and intention (Please note, these links will lead you off the current site, and the opinions represented therein are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arts Cleveland. Arts Cleveland does not endorse the purchase of products or services by external sites.):

As a Research and Professional Development Tool

You may already be using a social network or blog for personal or marketing use.  Now think about these tools from a different angle.  Social media, blogging and the internet in general, gives us all access to sought-after advice, ideas and thought leaders from around the world. Just as you use different platforms in different ways so do the experts. Some may offer inspiring quotes or their latest ideas; post excerpts of their latest work or provide direct advice about niche topics. Search for a professional that you admire, videos that relate to your concepts, or companies that offer services for your type of work.  There are many exciting, new developments posted online for free every day, hour, minute and second. By doing some research upfront you can let these portals work for you.

Aggregating Your Social Media Accounts

With so many options, you don’t want to be overwhelmed by all your online accounts. This is a common concern of small businesses, nonprofits and large corporations alike.  A new industry of aggregating tools is currently emerging to provide help with this issue. Assembly for the Arts has used Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Buffer, which all have their own pro’s and cons.

Work Sample Basics

Work Sample Basics

Quality documentation of art work is an important consideration for artists of all disciplines. It can be a big investment in time and resources but the long-term results of high-quality images, recordings or manuscripts will bring many potential benefits:

  • Seeking funding
  • Marketing
  • Establishing a website
  • Securing clients
  • Securing a managers
  • Booking gigs
  • Hiring a crew or getting hired

Generally speaking you should always try to end up with the best high-quality representation of your work in whatever format best suits your particular discipline.  It’s also important to note that in this section, we are not discussing the quality of the work itself, but the digital representation of that work.

Be it digital images, conventional slides, video, audio or manuscripts, the manner in which you present your work will leave a lasting impression on any potential funders, curators,  performing arts venues and publishers. These people will be reviewing your work and making decisions based on what audiovisual work samples you have chosen to send and the professional quality of those materials.

Tips for Making Sure That Your Artwork is Presented Professionally

  • Decide if you feel comfortable documenting your own work or choose to hire a professional.
  • Preview your digital slide, video or audio documentation to make sure you have the best representation of your work possible prior to uploading the images to a grant application, sharing with vendors or posting crowdfunding sites.
  • Be aware of digital image and portal specifications before uploading images to any site.


  • For performing artists who rely on using  documentation of their work performed live and recorded by a third party (dance company, performance

    venue,  promoter, or studio) select samples that clearly represent your work and are not too dark or of poor quality.

  • If you decide to record your own work, research the different types of video cameras or sound recording technology available. Determine if you can compromise on one feature, like multiple functionalities or more compact equipment for a higher image and/or sound quality.
  • Use a tripod to steady the equipment.
  • Be aware of room acoustics. Any echo is difficult to remove in editing. Record in a dry sound environment, hang fabric and/or use a room with soft furnishings.
  • Balance editing a wide variety of shorter clips or audio tracks against using longer ones that allow the viewer to absorb more content.


  • Today, standard practice for photographs is digital images. If you have existing traditional slides of your work you may want to have them converted to a digital format at any local photo lab. Safely store the originals away from dust and light.
  • If you decide to photograph your own work, research the different types of cameras available before making a purchase. Determine if you can compromise on one feature, like multiple functionalities or a more compact camera, for a higher resolution.
  • Use a tripod to steady the camera.
  • Photograph only the work with no background. If you must use a background choose one that is black, white or gray.
  • Use good lighting (sunlight if possible).
  • Avoid skewing.

Written Works

  • Be aware of format specifications for submitting works online to publishers or to grants funders.
  • Format documents according to industry practice (e.g. plays vs. screenplays vs. poetry vs. prose). In general, work is formatted for ease of review:
    • Flush-left with one-inch margins
    • Double-spaced
    • In a standard font such as Arial, Calibri or Helvetica
    • For electronic files use a portable document file (PDF)
    • For print copies use white paper secured by a staple in upper-left corner, a binder clip, or a plain binder
    • Page numbers should be located in lower-right or outside lower corners
    • Use headers and footers thoughtfully for title, section or chapter

Artist Statements

Artist Statements

An artist statement is an important and valuable tool. It can be an effective way to communicate information about you, your process and your art work for a variety of different marketing and funding purposes. Artist statements are often requested for exhibitions and performances or as support material for grant applications. There are some basic elements of a well-written artist statement that are universal and apply to all of these situations.

Writing Your Statement

When approaching your artist statement always consider the intended audience and the reason that you are writing the statement.  Sometimes you will need an artist’s statement for an exhibition or performance opportunity; or occasionally you may be asked to provide one as part of a grant application process.  It is always best to pay attention to any specific guidelines for format or content that may be required. In the case of a grant application, you should also understand what types of professionals will be reviewing your work. Most grants reviews involve a small group of professionals reading many applications. For this reason it is best not submit an artist statement that is too long.  Try to write a statement that is well-structured with enough quality content to give reviewers the information necessary to score your application.  At the same time, your goal should be to create a compelling case for yourself, your creative process and your work.


Remember that the first key to developing a successful artist statement is feedback. Ask friends and colleagues to read a draft of your statement and to offer honest feedback for editing as well as to check for spelling and grammar errors. Absorb these comments and review them as objectively as possible. Incorporating the appropriate editing suggestions will help you to strengthen your artist statement and increase its effectiveness. In addition, read through the statement as a whole and make sure it has a natural flow for the reader.  You may want to add transitions or variety to your sentence structure. Remember to eliminate any redundant or unnecessary statements, phrases or words.

Effective and Persuasive Artist Statements

  • Act as a basic introduction to you, your process and your work
  • Are tailored to the audience or intended reader (Is this version for general audiences or a panel of experts who will understand technical terms and processes?)
  • Are very clearly stated and easy to understand
  • Tell your story well; briefly, but with a very deep or memorable impression (Generally a one-page artist statement is an appropriate length)
  • Are a reflection on you as the artist, musician, writer, etc. and your philosophies or process, rather than a synopsis of a piece of work