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How to host a performing arts residency

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So you want to host a performing arts residency. Excellent. “Residencies are a crucial part of the arts eco-system,” says Eliza Roberts, Executive Director of Res Artis. “They play an important role in the professional development of an artist’s practice and ongoing career.”

Compared to residencies for visual artists and writers, there is a shortage of residencies that support the performing arts. So go for it. Before you get started though, Eliza recommends you keep in mind a few important do’s and don’ts.

DO:

Take into account that performing arts residencies are much tougher to host than other arts residencies.
The main barriers for performing arts residencies are infrastructure and funding. Often performing artists work in duos or groups, which means more funding is required for travel, daily living costs and production. To start your residency you’ll need more resources in terms of infrastructure, staff and facilities to host performing arts groups.

Be very clear and honest with yourself about what you are able to offer
Like any business, it makes sense for a residency to start small. For example, you might only be able to offer one performing arts duo a residency at a time. By starting small you can tweak and evolve the structure of the residency based on real experiences and feedback.

Be equally clear and honest with applicants about what you can provide
Being transparent in your offerings will set expectations and avoid any confusion between artist and host.

Be flexible
Everyone experiences residencies differently. What works for one artist won’t necessarily work for another. This comes down to different requirements and diverse personalities. By remaining flexible and responsive, you can tailor each residency on a case-by-case basis.

DON’T:

Forget to weigh costs against benefits
It’s absolutely vital for residencies to work within their means. Carefully consider your capacity and how one thing can impact another. If you promote an open-call for applications, do you have the capacity to assess the volume of applications received? Should you apply for that grant, or does the time taken to apply for, process and receive funding far outweigh its monetary value?

Think this will be a part-time commitment
Never underestimate the time required to host performing artists properly. Do you have existing networks with other performing arts organisations you can work with? What framework do you have in place for collaborations? Have you provided induction information? Once you have a structure in place, this becomes increasingly easier over time, but to remain relevant it needs to be constantly improved and updated.

Forget about your artists after their residency is over
Alumni can play a tremendous role in assisting new intakes of residents and can alleviate some of the pressures and time constraints of hosting.

Finally, do make use of networking organizations such as Res Artis to get valuable information and support. From step-by-step guides to listing and promoting your residency to meetings with fellow residency hosts discover what Res Artis can do for you.

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Amy De Kanter
Amy De Kanter

Former Chief Editor, frequent contributor and enthusiastic audience member, Amy is thrilled to have a job that lets her do three of the things she loves most.