Pro Prac Symposium – On Artist Residencies

On Artist Residencies

Pro Prac Symposium


Instagram handle @AndyButler

SignalFire Arts
Bundanon Residencies
Australian Tapestry Workshop
Centre for Projection Art


Nick Breedon 00:00
Hi everyone and welcome to Pro Prac Symposium. Pro Prac Symposium is a professional practice webinar where artists share their knowledge on topics which were identified as issues in seasons one and two of the podcast.

Pro Prac Symposium has been generously supported by city of Melbourne and we would also like to thank Site Works and Center for Dramaturgy and Curation for hosting us here in the office today.

We respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation and pay respect to their elders past present and emerging into the elders of the lands this podcast and symposium reaches you on today. We extend that respect to all First Nations people listening today and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded.

This session is on Artists Residences, and we’re joined by Andy Butler and Eliza Roberts , where we will be discussing all things related to artist residencies.

Kiera Brew Kurec 00:50
Thanks Nick. I’m going to head straight in and introduce our wonderful panelists that we have. Andy Butler is an early career artist, writer and curator. He’s writing on art and politics has been published widely including in The Saturday Paper, The Monthly, Art and Australia, Overland and Runway. He has recently exhibited his work at Bus projects, First draft, Footscray Community Art Center, C3 and Substation, and worked on curatorial projects at Bundoora Homestead art center and Blindside. In 2019 he undertook the Asialink creative exchange with Green Papaya in Manila, Philippines, and in 2018 a writers immersion in cultural exchange in Yogyakarta Indonesia through RMIT. Andy is on the board of Seventh gallery and the Emerging Writers Festival and is the program curator at West Space. Welcome Andy.
And our other guests is Eliza Roberts . Eliza Roberts was appointed the inaugural executive director of Res Artist in 2016 Where her role is focused on fundraising, public profile and strategy for the organization. Eliza served on the the Res Artist board of directors from 2012 to 2016, including a two year term as vice president from 2014. For six years, Eliza worked as artist residency manager at Asialink Australia’s most long standing artist residency program in the region. Eliza has diverse experience in the arts industry, having worked at a range of local and international institutions and organizations, including Christie’s auction house in London, and the Ian Potter Museum, and also Artbank. So welcome, Eliza, thanks for joining us as well.

This is a very timely conversation because of the situation that we’re currently experiencing with COVID. So obviously, this conversation will span both pre and our current and maybe look to the future of what is to happen with artists residencies. When we were planning this panel, the kind of global effects of COVID hadn’t really fully integrated into everyone’s lives yet. So the conversation will probably evolve, just as we’re all kind of evolving with daily updates, and changes. But I’d like to start off with asking you Eliza, what is a residency? as the term can often get misused or overused and maybe you could even provide some different residency models?

Eliza Roberts 03:20
Yeah sure. Well, thank you very much for the introduction and for having both Andy and myself here. And hi to everyone listening in and hopefully you are snug in your pajamas, staying out of this crazy weather, and enjoying listening in for the next hour or so.

Just very briefly, I’ll explain about what Res Artist is and does. And so we’re international network mostly of arts residency operators. But we’ve also got artists and funders and curators, researchers as part of our membership, and we’re the peak organisation for the arts residences field. And really, our aim is to maintain the quality of the arts residences field and ensure its sustainability and growth. And that’s just to put it very briefly, I think you’ve probably got a lot of artists who are tuning in and there’ll be familiar with our website in particular, and looking at residency opportunities there. And the definition of what an arts residency is, is actually more complicated than it sounds. And I think it’s, it’s kind of like one of those terms that due to the rapid expansion in the field, it’s become very popular, and I think there’s a lot of mis use actually. So it’s like, you know, other terms such as curation or pop up. And, like I’ve got a pizza restaurant near me that says on the window, you know, curated pizza gallery, it’s a bit like that. And so if you go back to the historical significance or emergence of residencies and the term residency is very much related to its lexical meaning which is to reside in a place. And the term was coined in the 1900s with the rise of artists colonies and throughout the US, Europe and then later throughout the world, and Res Artist has attempted a definition and, and you can find that on our website, And there’s so many scales and models of arts residencies. And that’s what makes it so complex to pin down. But for us, I guess some of the fundamental core principles of a residency are about an adequate time, space and resources. And it’s an enabler of a creative output or creative work. And I think that the word exchange is really important. So it’s an exchange between the artists, obviously the host or residency provider, and also the place, and community. So yeah, for me, and for Res Artist they are the fundamental underlying principles, but Kiera you’ve already outlined, or flagged I guess, COVID. And I actually anticipate that definition might shift, I think is, you know, there’s a lot of studio residences that are very popular at the moment. And I imagined they might become more popular. Local residences will also take precedence and I think that we can talk about that in more detail later. But a lot of virtual and online activities will take place around residencies.

Kiera Brew Kurec 06:54
Leading on I think, like time, space and resources and exchange, like it’s such a, it’s really nice to actually hear that broken down. Because often you have, you know, in the art world, we just kind of think of a residency, even when you’re talking to maybe a family member or someone outside of the arts, and you’re like I’m going on a residency, and they’re like, Why do you get to do that? or What is that? Yeah, those four words are actually like, they’re really good for me to actually just think about that. That is, that’s what it is. And that’s a really great way of explaining that to someone, I think it’d be really great if we could identify some of the benefits of undertaking a residency for both artists and then by flow and affect the wider artistic community that surrounds the artists that is undertaking it. I was wondering, Andy, maybe you could talk to both your own experience of going on residency? And then and how this has impacted your work, but also your observations on how undertaking residences affect our community our own arts community?

Andy Butler 07:58
Yeah, thank you so much for that question. And for having me today. I’m really grateful to be here. And thank you so much for that definition Eliza, it’s actually really great to hear, like, so clearly what it is like that a residency should be and I think it really touched on some, like, really clear points on like, no matter the sort of like structure, or scale or scope of residency, that like, those are some really core things around time space resources, but also exchange that like, I think, yeah, at all different scales are kind of like what residences need. And yeah, I guess I’ll begin by talking about like, some of my own experience with residencies, and then the broader, like, sort of effects on a community. So I yeah, I guess, like in a really short amount of time, and about three and a half years I’ve done four residencies. Sort of two locally yeah locally and two internationally, like of different scale. And I feel like sort of at each residency, like I had, like, quite, quite a big, like, creative outcome. That didn’t necessarily happen like on the residency, but it was just this like time and space to really reflect on like, what I was doing and why. And like, even if I didn’t really like the work that I was making the time, like it sort of really fed into what would like what would happen, like sort of further down the line, but I think the most significant, I’ve done here two residencies, like one was just like a studio residency here in Melbourne, and another one was in Portsea, like a couple of years ago, but the sort of the two ones that have made a huge impact of these like, ideas of creative exchange. So yeah, so I did a writing residency through RMIT In 2018, where it was like five Australian writers and five Asian writers coming together in somewhere in Asia. So I spent two weeks in Indonesia, with these writers and it was all about exchange and sort of meeting each other. And then this Asialink residency was also sort of, like founded on this idea of exchange. And I feel like the thing that really was really beneficial for me, I think, is that it’s sort of like being overseas and being outside of this incredible inward looking bubbles that the Melbourne art scene can be acutely in, like, sort of the Australian art scene is more broadly, sort of getting that outside perspective on what is happening is really, really fruitful. Like, yeah, but also sort of understanding where it is that our arts community fits within a broad international dialogue. And I think that that’s really important for pushing like, the sorts of work that is created within a specific, like, geographically located arts community. And so I think that these residences sort of have this real like ongoing effect for both like, the place where the artist is going, and the sort of art scene that they’re from that it’s sort of this like, ongoing exchange of ideas and practices and ways of working that can really shape the sort of yeah sort of things that come out of a community because I’ve Yeah, I sort of see like going overseas, or bringing like an overseas artists here to Melbourne like, it’s just this way of like piercing this bubble, that like everyone’s working in and like slowly trying to let in ideas. Yeah, filter through the practices of different people.

Kiera Brew Kurec 11:39
On that notion, as well of the idea of time, I did a residency through a space called Signal Fire, which is located in Oregon, in the US, and they have a publication called Leaf Litter. And I believe it was an article written by one of the founders, Amy Harwood, who wrote about perspective and time and how a residency can, it may not be having an outcome, but the space, the time and perspective is really important for an artist to remove themselves from their community and have a different experience.

Eliza from your position, you can probably see, a very wide view of what those benefits are having worked in your different roles and seeing artists before they undertake a residency and after, And see how that can kind of affect them in different ways. What are some of the benefits that you identify?

Eliza Roberts 12:42
And yeah, I think I think this time out for reflection is a really interesting and important concept. And I was I had another zoom meeting the other day with someone in Sweden, and we were joking about this idea that COVID has kind of created a residency for everyone, like everyone is taking time out for reflection in some way. And whether, you know, I’m incredibly busy, in fact, more busy than I’ve ever been in my entire life right now. But you’re still sort of reshaping things and evaluating. And so yeah, that was, that’s quite interesting. But yeah, I think I think the benefits for the artists are huge, and many, and obviously, the creation of new works, and its time, it can be time for experimentation and pushing the boundaries of artists practice as well. And so often, artists come out of residences, and perhaps, you know, with new skills or different perspectives that push their, their practice in a new focused way. And they can obviously be motivated and inspired by new surroundings in a different setting different cultural landscape. And intercultural understanding, of course, is a very important element of this. You know, I guess positioning yourself as a as a resident in a new society or perhaps unknown place. And there’s outcomes and not every residency demands outcomes, but ultimately, there are outcomes. I’ve never met an artist in residence, he hasn’t had an outcome of some description. And I think that it takes quite a while for artists to, I guess decompress from a residency experience. And ultimately, ultimately, the outcomes it is immediate outcomes, of course, in terms of an exhibition or publication, whatever it might be. Then there’s sort of medium term outcomes which usually back in the artists own country, perhaps it’s a showing of the work they created on residency or a talk or something, which is also creating this sort of trickle down effect through their peers and the local arts community. And then long term I think, is where they’re really interesting outcomes occur. I think, you know, residency is can literally be life changing for some artists, and it’s not only professionally, but also personally just in their approach to arts practice and the structure of how they even go about their day. And, and on a more personal level, you know, when I used to run Asialink’s arts residency program, for example, we had, you know, births, deaths and marriages that occurred from residency programs, and, or Yeah, people even changing their whole lives around so that their partner would take on a different role to them. It’s, it’s it is that time out for reflection that enables all of these benefits to occur.

Kiera Brew Kurec 16:11
These have been really great, kind of pinpointing those things. But there’s also kind of the extended side of an artist residency where it doesn’t just affect the artist and the arts community from which they come from the artist visiting also affects the community that they are visiting. Which again, as you’ve both pointed out, that idea of exchange is really important. But then it kind of it’s such a ripple effect, because often, it’s not just the community, it’s the town city, and the country. And often, as you also said Eliza there’s so many different models of residency programs, and some of them are very much integrated into different kind of exchanges between cities, or tied up in tourism or financial investments from different people. And there’s different I guess there’s, there’s different stakeholders involved. And I’m just wondering, from the perspective of an artist, do you think that there needs to be kind of a level of transparency from the like host organizations, or about what they’re interested in hosting an artist is? Or do you think that it’s kind of should be up to the artist to kind of investigate that relationship further?

Andy Butler 17:31
I mean, I can. Yeah, that’s really interesting about Yeah, thinking about the host organization, I actually think the relationship between the artist and the host organization is incredibly important. And like, I don’t know, if I, especially if it was like a big international residency, I wouldn’t necessarily want to show up for host organization, without them being invested in the reason why I’m there. Like, I just don’t think it’s sort of just be a waste of people’s time. But I just feel like the outcomes will be so much stronger If there’s this real like, link between the reasons why the artist wants to be there, and like the remit and nature of the organization they’re working with, it can just be a really powerful relationship. So I think that like, you know, if you’re an artist or community organization, like on the internet, trying to figure out like, whether or not you’re the right fit, like, you may not be the best judge of that, like, and so it’s kind of like, I think it’s great that like, yeah, organizations could be should be quite transparent about, like, what sorts of artists they’re looking for, and why they’re looking to work with those sorts of artists.

Eliza Roberts 18:38
Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, as someone maybe On the flip side, when you’re reading through residency applications, and it becomes incredibly clear, and people who have just sort of thought, Oh, yeah, that looks really nice I’ll apply there, and maybe copied and pasted from a previous application as opposed to someone who’s really passionate about matching their practice and proposal with the host, and the location, and I think it’s really important that the host, also has a say, in the selection of the artists, that it is the case most of the time, but I know some programs don’t have that, particularly when there’s reciprocal exchanges involved. And, and for me, it’s so important that they have that and that say and that by in and investment, as you say, into that person’s practice and what they’re actually proposing to do, I think it’s fundamental to the success of any residency.

Kiera Brew Kurec 19:43
I want to lead on from that, because you’ve kind of already opened up to my next question, which I would really love to discuss with you both. Eliza, being someone who has read through I’m sure countless amounts of applications and Andy someone who is an excellent writer, I would really love to talk about some practical elements about applying to undertake a residency, what you think makes a strong application, how you think your practice should fit into the ideas of that arts organization that’s going to be hosting you, as well as thinking about where you’re traveling to, and how to be kind of yeah, match yourself to the to the right kind of residency, that’s going to work for you best, and hopefully even get in.

Eliza Roberts 20:39
I can list that off briefly so yeah, for me, as I said, I think the that match between the practice and proposal with the host and location is deeply significant. And, and for artists to be doing their research before they apply. And I think there’s, you know, a few methods of that. So obviously, online research, talking to the host organization, and directly and talking to peers who’ve done other residences. And if you can, connecting with alumni of that residency program, I think, helps hugely. And so you do your research before you apply. And remember to proofread and edit and maybe get someone else to read your application before you submit. And I know that sounds very basic, and you’ve probably heard it a million times. But as I said, it does become very obvious when people are copying and pasting, and sometimes they’re applying for residency in wherever. You know, Vanuatu and they’ve accidentally said that they want to go to Beijing. So these things are very important. I think it’s also, you know, the, the residency applications that stand out are kind of deeply engaged in research, they’re not tokenistic. So I would try and steer people away from unless it’s really, really fundamental to what you want to do. You know, an obvious example is if you’re looking to go to Mexico, don’t say you want to do something with Frida Kahlo, unless, unless highly, you know, an integral part of your proposal. And I think, also, for me, what I, I did read a lot of arts residency applications, and still do sometimes today on panels. And I think one thing that stands out a lot is people who have a sort of a solid concept, but they’re open to opportunity, they are not so stuck in that path, that when they get there, they’re not going to shift and change and be responsive to the local situation and local opportunities that come their way. I think that’s a really important element. And also maybe being able to demonstrate your ability to engage in a meaningful way, in perhaps in new culture, and being, you know, act behaving appropriately according to cultural differences and sensitivities. And, and I think the last thing I would say is, a lot of people forget about the after the residency bit. So how are you going to continue on that residency experience? What What’s it actually going to do to practice? What are some of the outcome is going to be back in your own country with your own peers? And that sort of lasting connection and engagement with that country and host provider?

Kiera Brew Kurec 23:49
Yeah, they are great! Andy, do you have any, any tips?

Andy Butler 23:53
Yeah, those are really great tips Eliza, I think, yeah, sort of lays out really clearly, I think, what people need to have in the application, I think, like, um, yeah, I guess for me, the way that I think about sort of writing applications that sort of trying to answer a few really fundamental questions in a really clear way, where it’s like, I always think about why this why now and why me? So it’s like thinking really critically about like, why is this opportunity, like perfect for what I want to do? Like, why am I the best person to do it? And like, why now at this point of my career is really important. And then like, sort of how will then have a broader impact on my career going forward? I think in Yeah, in a place where you don’t necessarily know the outcome I find like having a proposal that makes your research questions really clear is like is also kind of important, where it’s like, obviously, you’re not going to have like a fully fledged project or idea of the what the, what work you’re gonna make, but like, I think having a few like questions that are going to guide you while you are there are really important. Yeah. And I think it’s just like actually really researching the organization and making it really clear like, why your practice is really well linked to that organization? Yeah, what the like, benefits for both the organisation and for you would be.

Kiera Brew Kurec 25:19
I think that kind of level of being deeply engaged and invested in the long term like you said Eliza about what’s going to happen afterwards as well is like, thinking about how this is not going to just impact your career short term, but where this research or this experience can work on your practice at a level of your actual practice, rather than it kind of just being like a career highlight of like getting to go overseas or getting to be funded to do something, but like, how will this give material that is kind of assisting in a development of your practice rather than just kind of get the career level. And kind of going on from that, I was wondering if either of you have any advice on maximizing your time, while in residency, I think sometimes I have just recently been on a residency and I forgot how sometimes when you arrive in a place, that just being in a new location can be kind of overwhelming, or exciting, or all consuming in all manner of ways. And you can kind of get sidetracked from being like, Oh, yeah, I’m meant to be meant to be working on this or like, different things can change and, like you said, Eliza of being flexible and being able to adapt your project as you need to in that city. I was wondering if either of you could speak to any ways that you think, or have used yourself as a way of kind of maximizing your time.

Eliza Roberts 26:50
Yeah, I think I think having a vague structure is a good plan, but also being able to throw that out the window and open yourself up opportunities and so that simultaneous kind of capability. And so I would advise people to think very carefully about the duration of the residency, and what works with their artistic practice and their personal life as well. On the Res Artist website, for example, you can search for residencies, and you can look at residencies that are family friendly or partner friendly. And things like that, where you might be able to spend a bit more time on your residency than if you were apart from your family. And the, these sorts of elements that would enable you to maximize it because as you said, Kiera residencies can be quite overwhelming. And you know, it can take someone one month, at least, to get settled into a place to find out where everything is and who the key contacts are, and get their supplies and start thinking about what they want to focus on and doing some research. And the second month, usually, you know, creation of new work and networking, and then the third month is usually focused on some sort of outcome. So in my experience, three months is actually a really good amount of time. But obviously, people need to, to find the appropriate match for them. And residencies can be actually quite short in duration, and particularly recently, you know, down to a couple of weeks or right up to a year. So you’re doing that research and carefully considering that and you’re remaining open to opportunity, I think is a very key one. And I think and also a good tip is just kind of putting yourself out there, you know, you are in a new environment. And even if you’re sort of a shy, reserved person usually doesn’t mean you have to be there because no one knows you. And so just network and yeah, sort of push yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit because you never know where these conversations will lead to. You could be talking to someone at a bar, and then they’re like, Oh, well, I own a gallery and residency in Kuala Lumpur would you like to come there next year? So I think, yeah, it’s very important to network and know that you’ll never know where it could lead you.

Kiera Brew Kurec 29:31
Yeah. And people are also really excited to meet artists from Australia as well, like in my own experience, that reaching out to people. You know, we are quite far away and sometimes people can’t get here so they get very excited about getting to meet an artist from Australia and getting to understand the Australian art scene through the perspective of me being an artist so it can be really important to be like a representative of your community, and communicate that to people, as well. And yeah, most people are like, really down to meet you once you reach out.

Andy Butler 30:15
I felt sort of following one from that. I feel like, yeah, for me before going in this Asialink residency, like, asking people for contacts in Manila was really important and sort of reaching out to people before I arrived, just because of the whirlwind of travel and then settling into a new city is kind of like, out of it. And like, feeling a little bit like lost and discombobulated already having contacted people really helped. Yeah, but I just feel like yeah, sort of what Eliza was saying, it’s like that openness to like, meeting people is really important, because I feel like, Yeah, I know, a lot of like, sort of different travel that I’ve done recently. It’s like, sort of wherever I’ve been, like, talking to other artists, it’s always really fruitful. Like, there’s sort of like this understanding of like, what you do. And so it’s like, there’s sort of this thing that already like, binds you together. Yeah. And so and I feel like, yeah, those sorts of relationships have been really great to try and facilitate. Yeah, so like, meeting people is really great. But then also not being too hard on yourself, either. I feel like, yeah, sort of trying to pack too much in is kind of like, yeah, isn’t maybe the best way to go about it, either. Because I find like, Yeah, probably like, one of the really beneficial things for me is that like, you know, in Melbourne, I can, you know, go for like, weeks or months of being like, incredibly busy. And then the actual time away, where there’s not that like seven day a week, sort of like work routine is really great. So I think just like taking a step back as well is really, really good and not putting too much pressure on yourself.

Kiera Brew Kurec 32:02
I do have another question to go on to, but I am just kind of brought to mind. Speaking with someone last year, who I think they might even be actually in listening today, talking about how in their day to day life, they need to kind of work full time to, you know, pay rent to live. And the time for the art practice isn’t always available. So using artists residences, as a structured time to go away and create a body of work, and building that into actually the way that you practice. I thought that was really interesting. And I hadn’t really heard that approach before. But I think it’s a really fantastic idea. If you have the privilege to be able to do that, that you can think of, you know, the artists residency as your production time. And then kind of your day to day life as you’re kind of like thinking time, and I thought, yeah, that was a really cool idea.

Andy Butler 33:07
I actually feel like I kind of work in like an opposite way. It’s like, I sort of when I’m in Melbourne, I’m usually just to like output mode, like consistently doing out. But then it’s like going into residency that it’s kind of like the time that I actually have to critically reflect on what I’m doing and think more deeply about it. Because usually, if it’s like, sort of before all this, like, it’s just such like a constant hamster wheel of like, output, but like, yeah, so that’s sort of how I’m sort of seeing my relationships, residences, I guess that it’s like, not necessarily like outcomes, but like in terms of like, conceptual development of what I’m doing. It’s been really significant.

Kiera Brew Kurec 33:46
Yeah it’s really interesting. And I think that that’s tying back with what Eliza said earlier that there are so many different models of artists residences, as well. And I think when, when you are trying to find one that you want to apply for is then like, looking at what the different models are, and what is going to be suited to what you want to experience and like do you want to have a space where it’s just time to reflect or to experience another culture or is a you want high like output or, you know, as well as thinking about all the other things, that’s a good place to start from, where to look for where to apply. I wanted to just touch on this thing, because when I was graduating from university, that kind of like, young, emerging artist in me with like scour through people’s CV’s and where they would show but also like look through all the residencies that they would have done and it was definitely like on my checklist of like, one of the things I have to do really, like straight out my career, like out of uni is like get a residency on my CV because that’s what I thought you kind of have to do. And so I’m just wondering, in both of your experiences, what do you think, Obviously it advances people’s practice in certain ways. But do you think it’s a necessary thing? And do you think that artists need to like that it’s something that they have to do?

Eliza Roberts 35:19
I’m a bit biased So I would say yes (Laughter). I think I mean, it’ll be interesting to see what happens after COVID. But I think up to the point of COVID, the world was, you know, no matter what career path you were working through an artist or anything, and more and more international experience was seen as a pivotal part of your career. And so I think that, you know, as part of that, arts residencies were fundamental to that. I think a lot of artists do have residencies within their CV. So they have, obviously, you know, solo exhibitions, group exhibitions, awards, residencies, it’s become part of a regular kind of format of CV’s. And I do think it is important to demonstrate both local and international experience in residencies is obviously a very effective tool to be able to do that.

Nick Breedon 36:26
I just quickly want to ask as well Eliza, I, do you think that that kind of speaks to this real I suppose like isolationism in Australia, that we do have this real push always that that, you know, international is always like this, the kind of hurdle we have to overcome in Australia that we’re so isolated here with, like, you know, go look elsewhere, to kind of like be redeemed, as a successful artist in our peers eyes. Do you think that’s changing at all? Or do you think that’s, you know, kind of really important?

Eliza Roberts 37:08
I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens after COVID. I mean, in, in my mind, I think a trend that will occur is more local residences taking place. And I think Australians are very good travelers, actually, because we’re so far away, you know, it’s nothing for us really, to jump on a plane for 10 hours and position us somewhere else, whereas people who are in Europe, you know, see that it’s a very long distance. And so I think, yeah, there’s something in Australians that are, you know, relates to that fact that we, we seek to get out of Australia and seek that international exposure and point of difference. And, yeah, yeah, I think so.

Kiera Brew Kurec 37:58
I just wanted to touch on some of the kind of financial and logistical implications that are placed upon hardest when undertaking a residency, including taking time off work to travel, how do you pay your rent, or mortgage when you are not working or undertaking a residency? Obviously, there’s some residency options that are funded. Well, we’ll go to extreme lengths to help you get funding but then there are others that you are required to pay for. And given that there is this kind of idea that it is expected that an artist should undertake a residency and often quite early on in their careers. Are there some different kind of funding models that you can kind of think of, or different strategies that you are aware of that artists have used to help finance residencies?

Andy Butler 38:52
No, I’m not sure that’s a funny one. I just, I feel like I’ve never been able to afford to pay for a residency before, so I kind of just haven’t, and it just means that like, I’ve had to search for opportunities, like don’t have a fee, and just sort of work around it. I think that Yeah Asialink has such an incredible residency because of how much they pay you to do it. Like it’s actually like full funded residency is a kind of are incredible. But um, yeah, I guess with the Asia Link residency, I was already like, full time freelance anyway. So like taking that length of time off. It was kind of like a period where I was paid the best I’ve ever been paid for about a year. So that was that was kind of great. And then and then when I went to Indonesia for a writing residency, I had a permanent part time job at the time. And it’s just use like my annual leave for the project and I think that like, sort of before I took that permanent part time job, I was umming and ahhing about moving from casual to permanent part time. I was talking to like, another artist about it and are like, dude, if you have annual leave, you can use it for projects. And yeah. And so yeah, like, now that I’m in a position again, where I have a permanent part time job, maybe I’d like sort of use that sort of thing to, to try and like fund it. But obviously not everyone’s in that position. I feel like, yeah, it is actually like a huge financial investment. I was like, so fucking broke when I came back from Asia, because it was just like, no, even though it’s paid quite well, to be there. Like, a lot of the momentum behind my freelance projects is sort of dropped a little bit. So when I got home, I didn’t have like, articles like freelance articles to write. Like, was actually like, quite a difficult. Yeah. difficult financial period.

Eliza Roberts 40:54
Yeah, I think well for starters there are so many residency models out there, and financial models as part of that as well. So there’s the big institutions who offer fully paid, and like pretty much scholarships to artists to attend. So that includes absolutely any thing you can think of including airfares, and it per diem, and even to the point of an artist salary for a year. And we’ve got a couple of members. One in Sweden, I can think of off the top of my head here that pays artist in residence a salary for a year as well as all their expenses. So look that one up, I’ll have a look and I can send you the information to pass on to. And but then there’s sort of this third parties like Asia Link, who don’t run the actual residency program directly, but fund the opportunity in partnership with other providers. And, and then, of course, there’s sort of, you know, residency operators who need to charge to cover their own operational and support expenses. I’m often asked about that, because within our membership, we’ve got a mix of all different types of models. And it’s becoming more and more common for residencies to charge fees. And my response is always, you know, it’s what makes the landscape of arts residencies interesting to have that diversity in the mix, a lot of residencies are operating as sort of private, you know, independent kind of spaces that don’t have government support. And in fact, in some countries, and, you know, parts of Southeast Asia, Africa, there is absolutely no government funding to access. And on the flip side of that, I would say that, for artists, in most places there is funding to access. So around the world, I would have to say, I mean, I really can’t think of an Arts Council that isn’t supportive of residencies, they’re incredibly supportive of residencies across the board. So I think I would encourage everyone to investigate funding sources here in Australia. And if I’m allowed to name some names I can so yeah, like the Australia Council, creative Victoria. And if you’re tuning in from other states and territories, you can access your own state or territory arts council, even some local councils like city of Yarra, and city of Melbourne. And there’s also through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that bilateral councils. So people like the Australia China Council, the Australia Korea Foundation, and, and there’s also some creative ways of trying to cut down the costs because Andy sort of touched on something, you know, obviously, you’ve got to pay for the travel and residency experience. And often it’s a requirement. And it should be particularly now that everyone has travel and medical insurance, for example, which can add on an extra cost. But also you’re paying for things back home. So if you’re renting a studio, if you’re paying rent or a mortgage, or whatever it might be, you’ve got to keep those expenses up. And I know the Australia Council, and for at least some of their grand rounds, you can apply for funding that covers some of that. And so it’s worth looking into that but there’s also some creative options such as doing, you know, studio swaps or house swaps, things like that with other artists.

Nick Breedon 44:55
Yeah. Yeah,

Kiera Brew Kurec 44:57
I think you said something really great. Which I think, again, when we’re thinking about where to apply is, you may be applying to a city that does not have the same infrastructure for arts funding, as we do here in Australia. And as much as you know, we are very protective about arts funding here and we need to be, we are also incredibly privileged and have access to money that many people do not have. And so I think being aware of where you’re applying to, and why you’re applying to that place, and what you can bring to the table, to support yourself rather than relying on someone else. But there is definitely some like, you know, of course, there’s like all the kind of Kickstarter and those kind of Patreon things that I know people use to fund residencies, which can be sometimes it’s like, why am I paying for your residencies, but then, I’ve also seen friends do incredible things with that, where their, their trip to a residency program like Banff when they work in Community Arts, you can see how much they are bringing back to our arts community when they come back. And it’s actually investing in our own arts community by helping them get to access that residency. When I was really young, and this is, I did, like, I made my own cookbook and sold it to my friends for $5. And made a few $100, to be able to, which would allow me to go on a trip. And sometimes it really means just like, you know, thinking about what resources you have, who what community can support you to get to where you are, and you need to think of like what you can bring back to the community as well.

Nick Breedon 46:56
I have some q&a’s.

Kiera Brew Kurec 46:58
I just want to have two final kind of questions. We touched on this a bit in our panel earlier on Artist as Parent, and Eliza you brought it up before about residency programs that have space to accommodate for children and families, or there to be another carer there as well. I’m just wondering, in terms of artists, residencies, from my experience, but I might be very wrong about this, it kind of seems to be more the norm that families are not welcome in residency spaces? And I’m just wondering, do you think that there might be a unfair advantage to those who are able to not be primary carers for a child to undertake a residency and that some people might not have access to these opportunities of career development above others?

Eliza Roberts 47:56
I think there’s certainly more resonances out there that are not family friendly than there are. Yeah. But I would say that in the most part that purely comes in to infrastructure. And so I think, yeah, as I said, on our website, people can search if they want a family friendly, partner friendly residence residency, but also things like wheelchair accessibility, because accessibility is another big topic and in the residency world. So and again, I think that purely comes down to infrastructure and resourcing, I don’t think that residencies don’t want people there. I mean, I’m sure some of them have the perspective that people might be less productive. And but I would say that’s probably a naive perspective. And if there’s proper formats, instructions put into place. So I think it’s a matter of people just once again, doing the research and looking for residences that will cater to their needs. And there’s also some research being done on that we’ve got, I’m not even sure where it’s up to now. But we were partnering with an organization in London, who was looking at things like researching accessible residencies all around the world, and compiling a list, because the ones on our website is just our members. So yeah, there is some work being done around that. But I think there’s definitely more that we need to do.

Kiera Brew Kurec 49:35
That’s great to hear that that is happening. And I want to wrap up with one final question and when I wrote this question, it was pre border lockdowns and travel restrictions. And I was at a residency myself and I was kind of questioning the relevance of a residency with kind of today’s day and age of technology and now it seems even more relevant than ever. I’m really interested both of your ideas about what you think the future of residency is going to look like over the next maybe two years, and then maybe in like five years, once we’ve kind of moved past that kind of current situation.

Andy Butler 50:21
I feel like, yeah, sort of, if there’s like digital space opens up more of a dialogue between like geographically different art scenes and people like, that’s really fantastic. I guess it depends on what the structure of the residences are. But I feel like, for me, the like, the thing that made residences was amazing was meeting people over like, a long period of time, like, and sort of just like general socializing. And, and I’m not sure whether that can be facilitated in the same way through digital residency, but that sort of like, sort of bonding and closeness can happen in the same way. And I think sort of like that. Yeah, the openness to surprise of like, meeting like a broad art scene, maybe, I don’t know, like, you know, maybe that could be facilitated in different ways through the digital sphere. But, like, you’d hope that those sorts of things could be recreated. If we do move, like broadly to mostly like online sort of sort of residencies. I don’t feel like it’s sort of, you know, I think it’d be great if it became like, a larger sort of, yeah, part of like residency program, because I think that, like digital residences definitely have, like, really amazing merits. But I’m not sure whether they, you’d want them to, like work alongside.

Eliza Roberts 51:51
Yeah, I think that’s very true. And I think alongside is a very important word. I mean, I probably wouldn’t be the right person for my job, if I didn’t think the in person exchange is just fundamentally important. We have annual conferences all around the globe, in different countries, and each year, addressing different themes. And it’s aimed at sort of professional development for our members arts residency operators and artists, as well. And our most recent conference was held in Kyoto last year, and it looked at the evolution of the arts residencies field. So the history and, and it looked as external factors that were shaping residency models and how they had adapted over time. So things like humanitarian crises, climate change, artificial intelligence, all of these factors are, what’s making residency models into what they are today. And there are some really amazing models out there things like you’ve probably heard of container residency Andy, where the artist is literally on a shipping container. And then there’s, you know, residences that are responding to, for example, the Fukushima disaster, and, and that element of social change. And I think COVID will be one of these external factors that will absolutely change the landscape of residencies moving forward. I think, just in my own mind, and based on what feedback I’m getting from our members all over the world. And I think my kind of projection forward is that there will be an increase in local exchange, there will be a focus on virtual residencies and online residency activities that kind of complimentary to the actual physical exchanges and, and so that will be interesting to see how it rolls out where Res Artist is actually just about to send out a survey. And that looks at the arts residency field specifically so artists and arts organizations and assesses the true impact of COVID on the field. And we’re doing it in three parts. So we’re assessing the immediate impact, medium term and long term impacts and really the aim is to find out what the trends are, what the impacts are, of course and to advocate for, you know, emergency measures and, and the sustainability moving forward. And the other thing that we are doing we’ve got an our website already a special COVID section, and, and we’re looking to expand that hopefully in the future with some digital learning for artists and arts residencies that helps people kind of adapt. So a lot of our members, for example, are asking how they can still continue residency activity and residency operations without the physical exchange element. So I think these practices will be incorporated and will continue on even after COVID has finished. But I do think actually, arts residences are going to play a really fundamental role when the borders reopen, I can see that as a sort of tool for reestablishing artistic and cultural exchange.

Kiera Brew Kurec 55:46
I think that Yeah, guys covered so much today, I just want to say thank you, to you both, so much. And I actually just got a little bit nostalgic, while you’re both talking about all of the residencies I have been on, and just the relationships as well that you build during those times, I think the first residency I went on, I’m still in contact with everyone who was in that cohort with me, there’s been one long term relationship that came out of that over that they’ve been together for over 10 years now. So like, those things are so special, and they become so much a part of your community and the opportunity to undertake a residency like you both have said can be so incredibly life changing. So I want to have really thank you both for spending the time to discuss them with us. And we’re going to head over to the q&a, but I think Nick has a question.

Nick Breedon 56:41
I’ll start q&a as well. My question, I suppose, was just about COVID-19. And right back from the start of the conversation, we were talking about like, you know, residency being time, space and resources. And Andy added human exchange. Do you think like, how do you see you know, can you see any way of having and we did we mentioned before we started on West Spaces is doing the the I have now forgotten the name Andy.

Andy Butler 57:21
it’s Constantly Ecology West Space, Kings, Blindside and Caves all working together.

Nick Breedon 57:25
Great! and like what, you know, what, what can a sort of, what resources can you have aside from money? You know, that can be offered, you know, when you’re essentially self isolating, doing a residency, if that’s how it’s kind of set up, like how, how does that work with, you know, time, time, space and resources and kind of human exchange? If you kind of thinking about it like that? Can you guys think of any ways or like one of the ways that you’ve been thinking about it, maybe Eliza and Andy, of how that might look, during this time?

Andy Butler 58:01
Yeah, I guess with Consonant Ecology. And obviously, there’s like a lot of us who sort of been involved. So I sort of can’t speak for everybody, but I feel like sort of discussions that have been happening. Yeah, so just thinking about what sort of support you can offer an artist. And I think like, the sort of support at an at home residency under lockdown is that sort of exchange. So it’s sort of like, yeah, having people who are there to check in with them and talk about their work, but also having a residency program with a cohort while in isolation is also really good. So it’s just thinking about, like, new ways of building those sorts of relationships, even if it’s like, because of the nature of the funding, it’s like, it’s only open to artist and Victoria, but I still think yeah, that’s sort of like, yes, obviously, people have a lot, maybe have a lot more time than they usually do. And like, there’s quite a bit of, you know, there’s a reasonable amount of money attached to the to the residency. So there’s those sorts of resources but yeah, it’s just trying to, I think provide the relationships and the feedback and the networking and the ideas development that happens in a in person residency.

Eliza Roberts 59:10
Yeah I am totally agree. And I think support is a very important word when it comes to residencies and, and I think that that’s something that will stick as one of those sort of core principles, even if virtual residences are the new norm. And support is really the most fundamental thing in my mind to making a residency successful. And, I mean, I can sort of give you a few examples of what some of our members are doing. So for example, the the Kone Foundation in Finland. They have just announced grants that stay at home residencies, or studio residencies for artists and other people are starting to look to virtual programs and actually, Australia was one of the first countries to do a virtual residency program. It was through the Australia Council. And it was through if you remember that computer program Second Life.

Andy Butler 1:00:13

Nick Breedon 1:00:13
Wow. That is such a blast from the past,

Eliza Roberts 1:00:23
Exactly right, that might make a comeback. So and yeah, so that’s one sort of example. But more so now. And I’ll give you a more recent example, such as the Akademie Schloss Solitude in, in Stuttgart, in Germany, and they have physical residency programs, but then they also have this whole online kind of residency program, as well as an alumni program, and which is really, you know, encouraging that continued engagement in networking and outcomes to occur. So I don’t think it’s, it’s just the actual residency that has to take place online, it’s also the things that go with it. So, you know, virtual experiences of intercultural understanding, for example, and that networking contexts, kind of kind of benefit as well.

Nick Breedon 1:01:25
Yeah, I suppose. It’s interesting like um, you know, why we’re not able to sort of have all of these kind of resources and, you know, exchange already, you know, like, we’re, you know, in the art scene, that, you know, maybe we’re not having the opportunities to have as much exchange as we would like, and maybe this will provide kind of new ways of thinking about how to, you know, even as we open up or in social isolation, yeah, to be able to continue with kind of exchange and supporting each other in our own communities as it is. Yeah.

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:02:11
I think that’s actually a perfectly on to a question that we have from Ellie Louise, who’s asking, just wondering if you have any recommendations for specific local Australian residency programs?

Nick Breedon 1:02:23
Yeah, that’s a good one, I’ve often found it quite challenging to find some residencies that suitable for my kind of work in Australia. So I’m very curious to hear the answer to that one, I’m alive.

Eliza Roberts 1:02:39
And well, I mean, we’ve got member in Australia. And I’ll just encourage everyone to go on our website and have a look for those. So you can just jump on and search for Australia, and that will pop up. But it really depends on your practice. And so I’m not sure what practice this person holds, who’s asking. But I mean, there are options in every state and territory, I can sort of name some that are general in the hope that that helps the person. And so in Western Australia, the Fremantle Arts Center, for example, would pretty much be suitable to any art form. And then there’s RMIT run the international artists and residency program in Melbourne, that’s a fantastic when, in some of their exchanges are reciprocal. And some of them are focused like a First Nations exchange, for example. Bundanon Trust is a very good one. And that’s open to all forms. And so yeah, there are options in every state and territory but maybe if that person wants to type in what practice they have.

Nick Breedon 1:03:59
Can I also just maybe be a bit selfish and say like, is you Can you think of any ones that have like mega kind of facilities, I think that’s what I usually struggle with is finding something has, you know, big sculpture facilities to kind of use?

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:04:15
Can I just interrupt? just there is an application open at the moment for the if you work in video at all for the Center for Center, the Center for projection art currently seeking proposals and they have some money attached to it as well. And there’s a mentorship that goes with it too. So if anyone is working at all within the field of kind of projection and video, anything relating to that that’s one that’s local to Melbourne and yet has some financial support and a studio.

Nick Breedon 1:04:54
Yeah, I think Ellie Louise has just said fiber art practice, sculptural and installation,

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:04:59
The Australian Tapestry Workshop offers a residency program.

Andy Butler 1:05:04
Yeah, yeah, that my partner has done that one it’s really great. Um, yeah, I think there’s also I’m not sure if it’s running anymore, but there was a really good one in Portland Victoria for, like, textile artists fiber artist was going for a while. Yeah, I feel like just sort of generally, generally though, and thinking about like, emerging artists and like artists, residencies and sort of the career trajectory, as you like, get larger and larger residencies. Like I started out like getting residencies through local councils. And it’s actually like, really Yeah, so I got one in Portsea, through the Mornington, Peninsula, Regional Council, or whatever they called. And like, it was free. It was in summer, it was just like getting a cottage in like Portsea for two weeks. It wasn’t super competitive. You didn’t either send through a CV, it was really, like, nice and warm and homely and not like pretentious at all. Like, I think in terms of scale of opportunities, like there’s a lot. And so it’s like, yeah, so for me anyway, like, because I’m only like, you know, yeah, so like relatively, like still emerging, like you had those sorts of smaller opportunities really helped to then build up to like larger ones.

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:06:30
Even though it might be kind of seen as a smaller opportunity, it doesn’t take away from how significant that experience may be. And often, we don’t allow ourselves to have time to move beyond the community that or space or town that we live in. And to be able to experience a different part of even your own state is incredibly amazing privilege to be able to undertake something like that. And I would totally recommend everyone to do a kind of local residency, both within their state and interstate as well as overseas. Hmm, I think that’s all for questions. But yeah, unless anyone has one last burning one that they want to chuck in the q&a, I just want to again, really thank Andy and Eliza for taking the time to share their knowledge on this subject. I think it’s been really incredibly helpful. And it’s been filled with so many bits of advice for anyone who is looking to apply for residency once were able to move around, but not just that, the residencies that are available at the moment and to kind of explore this new terrain that we are in right now. So thank you again for your time.

Eliza Roberts 1:07:45
You’re welcome

Andy Butler 1:07:45
Thank you so much for having me

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:07:47
And thank you for all the attendees for listening now.

Nick Breedon 1:07:49
Especially everybody who’s been to every session today. Good on you. Thank you for joining us.

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:07:57
If you’re interested in Andy’s practice, go and follow him on Instagram and also go check out the Res Artist website. Thanks again, everyone for joining us.

Eliza Roberts 1:08:07
Thanks so much.

Nick Breedon 1:08:11
We respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation and pay respect to their elders past, present and emerging and the elders of the lands that this podcast reaches you on today. We extend that respect to all First Nations people listening today and acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded.

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:08:29
Follow us at @propracpodcast on Instagram or email us at If you haven’t already, please subscribe and whatever you listen to podcast,

Nick Breedon 1:08:39
please stay in touch. We’d love to hear what you’re up to as well.

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