Discovering new perspectives

Many creative and performing artists dream of working in a foreign country for some time. Artists-in-residence programmes allow some to do so.
The KfW Stiftung lets visual artists work at artists’ collective Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. KfW Stiftung The KfW Stiftung lets visual artists work at artists’ collective Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin.

Residence programmes fund artists and lend organisational support to experience a foreign culture. The idea is to facilitate vivid exchange, so artists from different regional backgrounds will discover new perspectives. For different arts there are different programmes. Some are specifically designed for actors, visual artists, musicians or experts in other disciplines. For instance, there are writers-in-residence programmes that allow creative writers to focus on their work while living in a host city. Other programmes are geared to curators, translators or architects.

Durations vary typically from one to 12 months. The longer artists stay, the better they will understand the new environment and translate their impressions into creative work. Longer stays, however, obviously cost more money and take more effort.

Artists need a bit of luck to be awarded this kind of allowance. Most residence programmes only take in one or two artists per year. The hosts are international agencies as well as cultural institutes of strong reputation, and they support different kinds of arts, sending creative people to different places.

Several programmes run by the Goethe Institut are meant for German artists who get to live in Japan, New Zealand or Bosnia-Herzegovina, for example. Creative writers can spend some time in Sarajevo, and visual artists who want to get to know India can spend time at the workshops of 1 Shanti Road in the megacity of Bangalore.

In contrast, the KfW Stiftung prioritises support for young artist from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. To stimulate intercultural dialogue, for example, the foundation lets visual artists work at artists’ collective Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. “We want to promote promising young individuals and network internationally,” says Nicola Müllerschön who heads the foundation’s arts programme. She notes that rather few artists-in-residence programmes are geared to non-western artists, and adds: “We focus on them.” If artists are interested, however, they cannot apply themselves, but must be proposed by curators and experts who scout internationally for the KfW Stiftung.

The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademische Austauschdienst - DAAD) runs residence programmes for talented visual artists and musicians in order to facilitate “unique creative projects”. German and foreign artists are eligible for its grants, and the residence is always in Germany. One of its options is the well-known Berliner Künstlerprogramm (BKP), which supports internationally acclaimed artists in the disciplines of visual arts, film, creative writing and music.

Typically, participants benefit from their foreign exposure for a long time. The influence of the foreign culture often becomes evident in later works. Moreover, new contacts to artists and curators in different cultures help to build bridges long term.

Jana Jagalski



KfW Stiftung



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