During this one-day workshop, we shared our experiences, from multiple perspectives, on what mutual benefit can look like in resdiencies that bring together academic researchers and artists. The day cultimated with a speed writing session where we collectively created 13 “Things” that one might consider when applying to and/or hosting an aritst resdiency. We offer it below in a raw and conversational form to highlight the energy and ideas produced during the workshop!

The Things

Alternatives to “Things”: offerings, guidelines, suggestions, what else? Propositions, things to ponder, things to think deeply about

1. Established shared project goals

  • Dig into questions and assumptions before the residency starts Establish intellectual property rights before there’s “property” to be “owned”. Maybe discuss where your project goals do/do not overlap.
  • Keep on checking in throughout the duration of the residency.
  • Be clear if there is still work to do after the residency is over.
  • Be clear about how the artist might want to be involved in writing about the work and publishing it (which might happen long after the residency ends).
  • Be clear about the end outcome of the residency, whether it is a study, or an artifact, or a show or an exhibition, or a workshop or just a work in progress.
  • Be clear about time. Will the shared project goals happen independently or collaboratively? How will projects make progress when knowledge required to complete the project is shared amongst artists and researchers? How will others outside of the artist/PI join in on executing on the project goals?
  • Dig deep and figure out each other’s motivations! Why is each party involved in this project? What are not only their goals, but the desires that drive these goals?
  • get good documentation throughout (interviews, blogs, photos, etc) so that the project can be useful to everyone afterwards. Think of what creative exercises (sketching, writing, etc) could be used to externalize the process and create documentation.
    • Write out an agreement about how documentation is shared, used, credited, exhibited, etc..
    • Agree or check in about social media use

2. Be clear about logistics

  • Communicate timelines/deadlines
  • Consider time of year when planning. A university feels different in the summer vs during the school year
  • Intellectual property, who owns what, when, how?
  • Payment, how much, when?
  • Available tools (and access to tools, like priority on specialized tools)
  • Studio space
  • Desired deliverables (for both artist and resident)
  • Required deliverables
  • Role in relation to others in the space (mentorship vs independent creation)
  • Space/resource access limits
  • Point person in the org, regular meetings
  • Be aware of work that is potentially unacknowledged: building needed infrastructure, doing manual routinary tasks that support the residency work
  • Discuss values and how they apply to methods and avoid assumptions based on “established” practices.

3. Establish community rapport and do your homework

  • For example, pre-reading material the artists assign the researchers and pre-reading the researchers assign the artist
  • Find work in other research communities that also engage with artists and might have knowledge in the area
  • For example, Interviewing artists in the space, understanding what artists need for that medium
  • The experimental clay residency did a business workshop for local ceramics artists. It was a great way to connect with the community and it is how both of the current residents found out about the residency.
  • A residency can act as a credential for artists to enter academic research spaces and vice versa, it can become a badge or create ambassadors for your programs into communities with whom you’d like to engage.
  • Have lunch together and go on field trips.
  • Be patient. Relationships with communities take time to build. It might not happen in one year.
  • Weekly lab meetings with lab members and residents to cross-share resources and skills
  • Be aware of how you and your institution may be perceived by the communities of artists you seek to work with- many artists have reasonable skepticism about the intentions of engineers and computer scientists. Approach communities that you are not a member of with humility.
  • Try to do some research into how the field of art you are interested in is situated in the larger art world. eg. Craft vs Art vs Design

4. Residency is an organ not a limb

  • Don’t try to find one thing that everyone can work on together.

  • Acknowledge that everyone has specific skills to bring. Spend time getting to know these skills and then it will become clear how they can come together to make something truly collaborative.

  • Integrate artists into the community

  • Imagine what the artist’s experience will be in your institution - will they be respected? Will they be valuable? Make sure you are clear about the space before they apply and/or agree to join.

  • Make the residency central to the lab/studio/institution’s work.

  • There could be more than one artist at a time!

  • Treat artistic knowledge as an essential form of knowledge that’s equally important to academic knowledge. Recognize that artistic knowledge may be embodied, and may not be easy to articulate in the form of an academic paper.

    • Artists are not decorators
    • Also, academic papers can take many formats. They don’t all have to be a new technique or thing - consider ways of publishing that describe the new patterns of thought, ideas, metaphors as part of your collaborations
    • Don’t treat artists like mysterious unknowable magic creatures.
      • artistic genius is not a thing. It takes hard work and practice. Ask about it.
  • Acknowledge the different and complementary functions of different organs

  • Take a moment to critically reflect on what “counts” as research in your space.

5. Be realistic

  • Acknowledge artist’s personal situations and build residencies for real people not for idealized artists with unrealistic or limiting expectations, also embrace it
  • Maybe outcome may not be of equal value for all parties
  • Many artists have no idea what HCI research looks like
  • Acknowledge the constraints/limitations of the space in which the residency happens (tools available, expertise of people)
  • Acknowledge the limits of what you can provide as a lab/institution and select and work with residents within these limits.
  • Consider your residency/research’s use of resources. Are you “solving” problems by creating more e-waste?
  • Setup reasonable timelines that align with the needs of both the artist and the organization

6. Dating - only invite people you are excited to spend time with and vice versa

  • Find the right time and space to make it happen
  • Spend time getting to know the artist personally. Creative spark is unpredictable, and try as we might we can’t predict when it will come about.
  • Allow space and time for this to occur, and for artist and organization to mesh.
  • Make sure the artist is interested in the research and the researcher is interested in the artist
  • Make time for your resident, invite them to dinner, lunch, and spend time just learning about them as humans.
  • Allow for transparency to other researchers / previous residents, to form a better understanding of the environment
  • Build spaces to share interest/ knowledge/ outcomes independently that can then be turned into strategies for co-development without prioritizing one beforehand
  • Will the resident interact with other people outside of the PI (lead researcher)? If so, how will they fit into the larger lab/residency community?
  • As a potential future resident, do your research into your options. Is there a list with options already in this document?
    • Haystack,https://www.haystack-mtn.org/open-studio-residency
    • Check out lists from Creative Capital, BOMB Magazine, Artist Communities Alliance
  • We need to clarify how this is differentiated from exclusionary practices, i.e. the “fit” problem
    • In Experimental Weaving Resdiency, this is where a diverse board is really helpful. Consider having the board make a short list and selected from the short list. Our process: open application (up to 200 apps, I make first cut, board makes second cut to 10, we interview all finalists and make selection). Not doing this alone is great. ….consider paying your board members.
    • Writing assessment criteria for your board is also helpful- having past residents as board members has also been valuable.

7. Acknowledge risk / risk is ok

  • As an artist it is not fun to work in an environment where it feels like you can’t fail, so make sure to create an environment where failure is okay.
  • Also, sometimes, it can be useful to explicitly tell the resident that its okay to play, and do something risky or has an unknown outcome (….but safe).
  • Schedule regular checkins (1hr /week) to respond to the situation, what is emerging, what could be improved, what other resources are helpful/avaiable.
  • Be prepared, research strategies and negotiate alternative plans
  • Artists coming into the space experience uncertainty/risk when things are really open ended. Considered structured activities up front, and less structured space to grow and explore later in the residency.
  • Be flexible
    • To new directions for research and art
  • Provide a care and support structure around risk.
  • Be open to work that might get personal and messy
  • Be open to work that might transform you (change is good!)
  • Be safe!
  • Don’t play the blame game!!!

8. Respect values and know that power structures are a thing to navigate

  • Researchers should respect the inherent value of arts (research is not the objective priority) and vice versa. Be aware of dynamics in which one side is only acting as support and not toward their own valued goals.
    • Avoid: Artist using researcher as technician
    • Avoid: Researcher tokenizing or extracting work from artist
    • Seek: Relationships where both sides have similar value to gain from a project in whichever way that may manifest.
    • Build Mutual Understanding: What are the product forms that matter to the artist? What are the product forms that matter to the research team? How will you collectively co-create them?
  • Use creativity to navigate constraints or power structures that may limit mutual potential
  • Interrogate the power of your institution within your community and do they work required to balance/acknowledge and be honest about the impact of the work in your lab/residency on the community.
  • If working with a local artist or programming public facing activities this is especially important.
  • Equally distribute the less glamorous / mundane labor of the residency- repairing and maintaining equipment, debugging basic utility code, ordering materials and inventory.

9. Pay people well and pay their people

  • Pay calculator developed by USA-based artists: https://wageforwork.com/
  • Budget your resident support in a manner equivalent to how much you would pay a member of your research team with similar expectations.
  • Publish how much you pay your residents. Setting a precedent here can help other people pay people well in the future
  • Be clear about the difference between the stipend, and the funding for travel, accommodation, materials, etc.
  • Build a contingency in budgets. Even the best made plans are not all inclusive. Don’t expect people’s labor to cover the difference without pay.
  • Consider the different benefits of a local collaboration (where an artist is already in the location where the residency will take place) and one where they must travel. Each structure requires different support, and has different budget implications.

10. Play

  • As an artist, it is really fun to work in a space where people are enthusiastic about your work
  • Open spaces where connections can be created outside of work
  • Student/Public engagement
  • Embrace evolving/changing goals or outcomes… to a point
  • If you are the organizer, schedule in time weekly to play with the materials the artist is working with. Embrace being clumsy and inexperienced in a new form of creation. It is delightful!
  • Indulge in the pleasure of creativity and artistic liberty
  • We must take up the task of dreaming!
  • Push boundaries of what may count as art or as research through playful exploration
  • Unstructured time can be good for growing ideas together.
  • Fun! Unpractical! Strange! Unusual! Surprising!
  • Shared times to come together as a group to play
  • Understand that artistic research is queering of the academy

11. Care for all

  • Embrace an ethos of care by focusing on the personal relationship before the outputs of a project. Strong, healthy relationships created through mutual interest in an idea or a concept will naturally lead to great work. Make the application free and lightweight…they have to apply to lots of things. Offer timely feedback on their application status and, if possible, clear guidance of why they weren’t selected (which is more possible with people who move through the application to the “finalist” stage).
  • Most artists should have a 1-2 pg artist/research statement/cover letter, a CV, and a 10-20 image portfolio ready to go, so this could be a good place to start
  • Find other opportunities to help the people you don’t select - like if they make the short list, let them know, so they can write on a CV that they were short listed. Consider inviting them to give a paid/invited talk at your institution.
  • How to best support non-artists / residents: the organizers, grad students, staff and admin implicated in university/organization who provide services but maybe weren’t included in the initial development of the residency
  • It’s more important that people in the team like and care for each other, than having the most brilliant people around that can’t talk to one another.
  • If a resident is moving to a new town, how to support them outside of lab hours? Is there an expectation from the PI or lab members to socialize?
  • Welcome and introduce the artist to your space when they arrive (and introduce the space and people to them).
  • Even if your artist is also a researcher, make sure they know the politics of your space if they are involved in publications, consider informing them how author order works and how it matters, be clear about how you do author ordership.

12. Have a narrow scope for the residency.

  • Put another way maybe, be very - specific about the things you are interested in exploring with an artist.
  • Share drafts of the call for artists, seek feedback?

13. An Artist in Residence Program is not the same as a commission.

It’s good to know the difference. If your goal is to bring in someone to directly advise upon or extend a project in a specific direction (and if you are an artist looking for someone else to develop your idea), you are in a commission relationship, which is different than a residency. A residency involves the mutual growth of an idea of exploration in a space that is supportive. A residency is open-ended. Also, try to have your equipment ready to go and well maintained, don’t expect the resident to fix your equipment. Identify what elements of the relationship are going to be transactional and what parts aren’t. Almost all residencies have some kind of transactional component — exchanging money for the time of the artists, or artists lending their expertise for a CV line. These elements need to be balanced and thought about carefully, but they’re unlikely to spark a mutual growth of an idea.