The reason for that, I argued, came down to the lack ofaffordable apartments and artist studios, as well as a pattern ofgeneral underemployment. Both of those factors are contributing to thedeveloping trend of artists trading New York for cities with a lowercost of living—and are sure to affect the kind of art being made herefor those who decide to stay.
Part of the problem, I noted, was that although creativeworkers contribute significantly to the city's economy, the city wasdoing little to directly address the problem: almost all of the moneythe city spends on cultural programs is earmarked for institutions,rather than direct support for artists.
Almost on cue, Mayor Bloomberg announced on April 5 a new, butcounter-productive spending initiative to help shore up the city’sstatus as the world’s cultural center. In a press conference at theMuseum of Modern Art, Bloomberg announced the city is establishing anew office to support arts groups, with the specific mission to pitchNew York’s status as a premier cultural center and to help nonprofitart organizations cope with the exorbitant costs of surviving in thecity. The new office is part of the city's Economic DevelopmentCorporation and will help arts groups negotiate the real-estate marketand attract financing.
"We won't and can't be complacent," Bloomberg said at theannouncement. "In the creative sector, as in so many other areas, atone time New York City didn't have to compete with other cities. Now wedo. Other cities are quickly learning the benefits of being a creativehub."
Agreed. But how does this new plan help those who need itmost? Subsidized housing efforts, such as the Manhattan Plaza HousingProject that opened in the 1970s and set aside apartments forlow-income residents working in the performing arts, would be a betteroption than simply pumping money into often bureaucratic organizations.
If the city’s focus is on helping arts groups deal with thereal-estate market to survive, it should at least require that thoseorganizations receiving aid provide residencies, studios, grants oropen-call opportunities for artists. Even better, why not start acity-wide open-studio program?
Residency programs all over the country provide anestimated $36 million in direct support for over 12,000 artists eachyear, according to the Alliance of Artist Communities,a service organization that provides research and information on suchprograms and is also an advocate on the behalf of these artistcommunities to policymakers and funders.
Rather than continue to point out where New York City isgoing wrong with its arts policy, I thought it best to spotlight someof those residencies that do provide direct support to artists. Here ismy list of 10 of the best residencies, colonies and retreats around theworld for emerging artists working in all media.
A workspace residency program at the Center for Photography atWoodstock, Woodstock A-I-R is designed to support U.S.-based emergingartists of color working in the photographic arts. The program offersfive residencies for artists of color each year and welcomessubmissions from artists working with photography, digital imagery,multimedia and/or installations that incorporate photography. Itreviews work every 3-4 months.
International School of Painting, Drawing & Sculpture
Overlookingthe lush Tiber River valley, the school's artist program is open to allvisual artists. The application deadline is ongoing with two, four-weekresidency programs, one in May and one in September.
McColl Center for Visual Art
McColl Center’s artist-in-residency program is located in ahistoric, neo-Gothic church in Uptown Charlotte and is open to emergingand mid-career artists working with sculpture, painting,technology/media, photography, ceramics, installation and communityart. The application deadline is May 1, with the residency seasons inthe fall (Sept.-Nov.) and winter (Jan.-March).
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture
Located on a 300-acre lake-side site in central Maine , theprestigious Skowhegan program is open to all visual artists, thoughapplicants must be 21-years old by the start of the nine-week session.The application deadline is February for residencies in June throughAugust.
On a calm beach on the island of Itaparica, across the bay from cityof Salvador in Bahia state, the Sacatar Institute has a program ofindividual studios open to artists in all disciplines.The application deadline is April 10, with residencies spanning six to12 weeks, with most scheduled for eight weeks from Maythrough February.
The Millay Colony for the Arts
Steepletop, New York
TheMillay Colony is located at Steepletop, the country estate thatbelonged to the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay in Austerlitz, N.Y., abouttwo-and-a-half hours north of New York City. It is open to visualartists and composers of all ages and at all points in their careers.The application deadline is Oct. 1 for the following year, with theresident season running from April-November.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
With three floors of galleries surrounding a courtyard, thestunning museum offers a residency open to all kinds of artists workingin any media. The application deadline is Sept. 20, for residenciesyear-round.
Henry Street Settlement A.I.R
The Henry Street Settlement's Artist-in-Residence Workspaceprogram provides year-long studio spaces to six New York City visualartists, all located at the Abrons Art Center on the Lower East Side.The residency is open to painters, printmakers, sculptors andinstallation artists. The deadline for applications is May 1.
The Mattress Factory
Founded in 1977 in a vacant Stearns and Foster warehouse,the Mattress Factory is located in a residential neighborhood inPittsburgh. Artists rehabilitated the six-story industrial building,turning it into studio and living space, a co-op restaurant and anexperimental theater. The residencies are open to visual artists, aswell as performance and sound artists. The application deadline isongoing, and there are residencies year-round.
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
Located in two warehouses in downtown Omaha, the residenciesat the Bemis Center are open to all visual artists, including video,installation and performance artists. There are two applicationdeadlines, Feb. 28 and Sept. 30, and residenies are year-round.The center provides housing, studios, program administration and even ageneral stipend ($500-1,000/month).
Learning to Navigate the Market: Although not a residency, the Bronx Museums Artist in the Marketplace programis also worthy of note, providing professional training andopportunities to emerging artists in the NYC metropolitan area. With adiverse set of guest lecturers, including accountants, collectors,critics, curators and lawyers, the program gives practical instructionon all those things that aren't really taught in art school, includingcopyright law, gallery representation, income tax advice and, mostimportantly, tips on grants writing. The application deadline is June30, 2006.