How Much Does an Artist Residency Cost?
Artist residencies are designed to give you time away from your everyday life to concentrate fully on your creative practice. Artist residencies can actually vary widely. Residencies can be in cities or in the countryside, they can be medium-specific or open to all creators. They can be big or small, designed to facilitate solo work or collaboration. Residencies can take place over the course of weeks or months.
Residencies can be really beneficial for artists. They can give you the time and mental space to create your work and can help you find new inspiration and connections. But, like everything in the art world, money makes things more challenging. Before you apply for artist residencies, you’ll need to consider the costs. Residencies can charge money to attend as well as room and board. Attendees might have to cover travel costs and materials as well. Some residencies offer scholarships and stipends, others are free to attend. It all depends!
That’s why we’re breaking down the costs of a residency – from application fees to travel to materials, plus helping you consider any lost income from time off work. That way, you can feel better equipped to apply for residencies that are right for your needs and your budget, and so that you don’t find yourself shocked by unexpected costs down the line.
Are Artist Residencies Free?
As with most cost-related questions, it depends. Residencies run the gamut, price-wise. Some are fully funded, have no application fees, and even help offset the cost of travel or missed work. Others will charge for room and board, require an application fee, and require you to bring your own supplies, And, of course, there’s everything in between.
If residencies do charge money to attend or apply, and aren’t able to provide as many resources to their artists as you would like or need, remember that they aren’t doing it to make a quick buck off an honest artist.
Sure, some residencies do profit from artists who need to attend a residency for their own professional development, but they are likely charging money because they can’t afford not to.
Prestigious residencies can afford to provide more scholarships, more financial support, and more amenities because they have more money coming in. They are receiving more grants from larger institutions to fund their work, and might be getting donations from alumni.
It’s frustrating but true that the residencies who are better equipped to support emerging artists and artists who are facing structural barriers to success are often the more competitive residencies that are looking for more established artists.
Plus, the residencies that are more geared towards the kinds of artists who need financial support aren’t always able to give them that support. This is one of the many systemic challenges of the art world.
Costs of an Artist Residency
When you’re thinking about how much a residency will cost, the final dollar total will depend on a variety of factors. It will depend on whether the residency requires an application fee, how far away the residency is, if room and board are included, materials, plus any missed wages that you’ll lose if you are taking time off from your job.
Artist residencies often require application fees, which tend to be in the $20-$40 range. Residencies charge application fees for a few reasons.
They might charge a fee to help reduce the number of applicants. Having to pay a fee, even a small fee, means that you have to be relatively serious about attending the residency. The people reviewing residency applications don’t want to receive applications from people who either aren’t actually serious about attending if chosen or are just applying to every single residency that they can find. Like you, residencies want to find a good fit between artists and residency.
Application fees might also go towards the administration of the residency. For example, paying staff, maintaining the space, paying teaching artists, buying food, providing materials.
Depending on the location of the residency, you’ll have to factor in the cost of getting there. Maybe this is a plane ticket, a bus, or a train trip. You might have to rent a car to get from an airport or train station to the residency itself, meaning you’ll need to factor in both the rental and the price of gas.
If the residency is in another country, consider the cost of a passport, a visa, and any immunizations you might need to travel there.
Even if the residency is local and you can stay in your current home, you should factor in the price of getting from your home to the residency. Maybe this is a monthly Metrocard or paying to park in a new neighborhood’s garage.
Room and board
Room and board costs will vary depending on the residency. Before you apply to a residency, take a look at what they charge for and what amenities they provide. Then, think about your needs. Some residencies will offer meals as part of their program, and some will require that you do some or all of your food shopping and prep. It’s not always better to have fewer costs if it means fewer amenities. After all, you might decide that you’d rather pay money to have your food taken care of than have to spend any mental energy on grocery shopping and cooking.
A residency that charges fees to attend might end up being more cost-effective than if you had to pay for those same amenities out of pocket.
Residency room and board fees can range depending on what amenities or services they provide and where they are located. Covering the cost of renting a space and buying food will be higher in San Francisco versus Salt Lake City. For example, the Atlantic Center for the Arts residency costs $900, which covers room and partial board (residents have to provide meals for themselves on the weekends).
Other residencies might not charge for room and board, but also might not provide them. Some residencies are free to attend, but if you aren’t local to the place that they’re based, you’ll have to find a place to stay.
If food isn’t provided you’ll need to take on that cost yourself. Buying groceries in a new place tends to be more expensive than shopping for food at home because if you’re dealing with a bare kitchen, you might not have staple pantry items.
Some residencies require you to participate in the upkeep of the space, such as preparing group meals or cleaning.
And, don’t forget that you’ll have to consider the costs of maintaining your home while you’re away. If you aren’t able to find a subletter for your apartment, you’ll still have to pay rent on a place you aren’t living in. You might have to arrange for childcare or for someone to stop by and water your plants.
In all likelihood, you’ll be responsible for bringing your own supplies to a residency. You might not think to include materials as a line item when you’re looking at how much a residency will cost because you are already spending money on supplies.
However, with a bigger block of time to create, you’ll likely need more supplies during a residency than you would during a comparable period of time during your regular life.
For example, you might wear through more ballet slippers if you have time to practice for hours every day than if you only practiced a few times a week. Or you might need more external hard drives to save the work you are creating if you’re creating more than usual.
Ultimately, this is a good thing. The purpose of a residency is to create more work, which means more materials. But it also means that you should plan to spend money on the materials you need to make your work.
If you, like many artists, work in the service industry, for hourly wages, or as a freelancer, you’ll have to account for the work that you’ll miss if you attend a residency.
At a minimum, you should consider any paychecks that you’ll have to forgo. But you should also consider if your employer will let you take time off or if you’ll have to find a new job after you return. We understand that many artists navigate unstable employment, so jobs and wages are important to factor into your decisions about resumes.
If you do have work that has benefits like paid vacation, you’ll have to use it to attend a residency. So, while you might not be missing wages, you will be dipping into benefits.
Scholarships and Stipends for Residencies
As we’ve mentioned earlier, some residencies offer scholarships and stipends for participating artists. Each residency will let you know on their website what kind of financial aid they offer and how to apply for it. Sometimes you’ll need to submit an additional financial aid application after you’ve been accepted whereas other residencies will automatically put you in a pool to consider for financial aid. Stipends and scholarships might cover travel, supplies, or room and board fees.
You might also consider arranging a work-trade agreement with a residency, or seeing if you can apply to residencies that have built-in ways to exchange your labor to attend.
You can use money you’ve received from a grant to attend a residency. You can even apply for grants specifically with the goal of attending a residency. Additionally, we encourage artists to consider crowdfunding or other forms of fundraising to help you offset the costs of attending a residency.
Be creative and open when discussing your financial needs with a residency. If they accepted you to their residency, they want you there and they want to help you make it work. Anyone working for or with a residency program understands the financial constraints that most artists are in.
Consider Costs When You Decide Where to Apply
Residencies come in all types. Some of them will pay you, some will be free, and some will require you to pay to apply and attend. Some might not charge room and board but might require you to purchase and cook your own food. Some might have more fees, but also provide more. These are all factors to keep in the balance when you are looking at applying for residencies.
We recommend making a list of potential expenses to consider when applying for different residencies to see how different ones stack up against each other. When you are researching which residencies to apply to, keep track of which residencies cost what amount of money, which amenities they have, what you’ll be responsible for covering. Plus, any expenses you’ll incur to keep the rest of your life on track.
Fractured Atlas works to help artists become more knowledgeable about the finances behind creating art. If you are considering attending a residency that costs money but is beyond your budget, think about fundraising or crowdfunding from your community. There are a lot of ways for artists to make money.
About Nina Berman
Nina Berman is an arts industry worker and ceramicist based in New York City, currently working as Associate Director, Communications and Content at Fractured Atlas. She holds an MA in English from Loyola University Chicago. At Fractured Atlas, she shares tips and strategies for navigating the art world, interviews artists, and writes about creating a more equitable arts ecosystem. Before joining Fractured Atlas, she covered the book publishing industry for an audience of publishers at NetGalley. When she's not writing, she's making ceramics at Centerpoint Ceramics in Brooklyn.