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Creative China Festival 2018: International Artist Residencies Panel

October 24, 2018

On October 12, the Asian Cultural Council, Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation, and La MaMa E.T.C. hosted a half-day panel.

The panel, International Artist Residencies, was held at the La MaMa Galleria as part of the Creative China Festival 2018.

While ACC is best known for its fellowship programs, we are also committed to facilitating dialogue, understanding, and respect between Asia and the U.S. through convening professionals and practitioners, individuals and organizations in the field of arts and cultural exchange. The International Artist Residencies panel and discussion built upon the valuable conversations we had during the 2017 ACC Forum: Making a Case for Cultural Exchange.

The Asian Cultural Council, Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation, and La MaMa E.T.C. share the belief that international cultural exchange is essential to fostering understanding and respect in the world and that it brings powerful benefits to the individual artists involved, the communities in the exchange country, and the artists’ communities at home. Since China and the U.S. established diplomatic relations, the exchange of artists has been a critical vehicle for achieving understanding and appreciation of each other’s cultures. The need for understanding and respect, based in relationships forged over time, is an imperative for cooperation and lasting amity.  

To explore the possibilities of artist residency programs, the panel gathered arts professionals who design and run residencies alongside artists who have participated in such programs for a three-panel session and discussion: Artist Residencies and Community Engagement, The Experience of the Residency, and After the Residency. Representatives from programs in the U.S. and China presented a range of residency models that employ varying strategies to facilitate community engagement, maintain alumni networks, and provide artists access to global artistic communities. Examining these various models, panelists discussed what makes a successful residency from both the perspective of participating artists and residency managers. While “success,” by its own subjective nature, comes in many shapes and forms, several themes ran throughout the three panels.

Clockwise: Ping Chong delivering opening remarks; panels 1, 2 and 3; closing remarks by Karen Wong

Residencies and resources: the resources described by panelists could be as concrete as living accommodations or studio space, money or materials, technical support or artistic training. Panelists also listed the importance of intangible resources, such as time and space to explore new avenues of creation and self-reflection. Some cited the importance of mentorship and professional development, while others called attention to the importance of access to a larger artistic network or audience.

Connection and continuation: these resources bring opportunities for immersive cultural exchange and deep connection with local communities and fellow artists-in-residence. In both cases—be it interdisciplinary collaboration or community engagement— panelists described meaningful residency experiences as yielding something long-lasting and/or extending beyond period of the residency itself. We heard repeatedly that a successful residency is one that feels more like a beginning, even at its end.

Evaluation: throughout the panel, the question of evaluation came up again and again.  What makes a successful residency? How do we define community engagement? How do we measure the impact of a residency on an artist or that of an artist on the community? From post-residency surveys to strong alumni networks, evaluation of residencies came from both internal reflection and meaningful exchange amongst residency managers, artists, funders, and local communities.

We greatly value the opportunity to reflect on this essential aspect of ACC’s work, and we are deeply grateful to our organizational partners and to the participating panelists for generously giving their time and invaluable insights to a day of meaningful dialogue on the residency experience.  

To learn more about the panelists who participated in Creative China Festival 2018: International Artist Residencies, see their bios here. Based on this panel, Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation will also be publishing a White Paper in Chinese and English, detailing residency programs in the U.S. and China.   

Cui Qiao, Mia Yoo and Miho Walsh welcoming audience and panelists



Category: ACC News, 2018