‘Artist in Residence’. An Introduction.

This 6 part blog series exposes how the call for artists leads individuals or groups to become ‘Community Artists’ and how they can artistically invigorate a community. They can actively instil energy and flair, this results from injecting an appropriately skilled practitioner into the midst of any type of community. It will demonstrate what happens when artists may be sought for general artistic education of a community, or be hired for site specific, goal oriented outcomes. To illustrate some points, I have used selected anecdotes from Festive Factory’s experiences as ‘Artists in Residence’ or as ‘Community Artists’.

The phenomenon, of the ‘Community Artist’, has gathered momentum over the last 15 years. The call for artists from Councils, community groups and towns has gathered pace. These organizations understand the local benefit in developing an ‘artist in residency’ program to work with their community. The art community benefit (they get a job), and the community benefit from the skill sharing, behind the project.

Community Artists might be specialists in working with communities, or they may be practicing artists taking time away, from their own practice. They can accommodate the requirements of a specific proposal to commit to a finite time table to help a community realise its goals.

Matching an artist with a community will typically be the job of the community project leader. Part of that job profile, will be researching to ensure that the skill base of an artist suits the project. It often serves the artist well to have a wide variety of skills from project management, stage management to choreography, sculpting, puppetry, teaching, music, painting, screen printing, writing, and so the list of artistic skills goes on and on. Like any service provider, the more on offer, the more useful one becomes.

There are various models that lead to artists working or residing within a community. Two are set out following.
Communities may conceive a project for a specific event or purpose and then seek a suitable artist to facilitate the execution within the community. Typically the community’s project leader will source the artist or artistic group, and working in collaboration with the artist, seek funding through appropriate channels to cover associated costs.

Alternatively, from time to time, an artist will conceive of an idea and propose it to a community seeking general participation. The manner and shape of the artistic involvement responds to the need of the project/artistic concept.
The community’s project leader may work in collaboration with the artist, to seek funding as required or if the artist has funding, may provide the service of an auspice body.

There is no standard formula or definition that can be applied to the concept of ‘Community Artist” or ‘Artist in Residence’ although the two models cited above are most common.

Although Festive Factory has typically worked by the first model, next week I illustrate another manner of commission from Festive Factory’s folder of experience.