Applying to Artist Residencies - 10 Tips You Want to Know
Blog Post by Susan Rich - Nov.11.2009 - 1:45 pm
A Few First Steps to Applying to Artist Residencies
© Susan Rich
- Be a dreamer and a realist. Which artist residency would you most like to spend time at? Apply. But don’t pack your bags quite yet. An analogous process might be applying to colleges. Aim high, medium, and outside the box.
- Create cohesion in your application. You need a narrative line to be remembered. It is not true what many residencies say about “send your best work.” Send a writing sample that allows for easy identification of your content or style. It could be “the sonneteer” or “the essayist on Colombian transvestites.”
- Timing Matters. If you apply during the fall and winter months, you will have a much higher chance of being accepted. Residencies get the brunt of their applications for June through August. Apply in winter and your chances of acceptance will skyrocket.
- Keep it Organized. Start a computer file of which residencies you are considering and a list of their application dates. Many residencies have two times a year when you can apply – some, like Hedgebrook, just one. A place on your computer that has your applications, essays, work sample, and dates applied will allow you to track what works and what needs tweaking.
- Keep it Fun. Remember the license plate game from childhood? Why not try for residencies in states you’ve never been? Ucross, Wyoming was my first time meeting cowboys and seeing tumbleweed. New landscapes = new writing.
- Talk, talk, talk. Find people who are former residents. Once you’ve been accepted, most residencies are happy to furnish some names for you to contact. Ask lots of questions. For example, is there an evacuation plan in case of fire?
- And a zillion internet resources at your fingertips. These can help you in terms of residencies internationally, in state and national parks, fee, and no-fee options. Always check that the information has been updated recently. One overall good resources is Mira’s List - http://miraslist.blogspot.com/
- All residencies are not created equal. Do you work better in community with others or in total isolation? Will you flourish in the country or in the city? Is a separate writing studio necessary? Are you okay with writing in your bedroom? How flexible are you with what you eat? Are you able to deal with community living? How about the daily practice of a saxophonist? Know Thyself. A good article on this subject and a list of residencies is at www.artistcommunities.org
- Don’t get discouraged. Juried panels tend to change each year or two. This means that a prior rejection has little to do with what next season’s judges will think of your work. Many writers apply one, two, or three times to the same place.
- More questions? Feel free to email me at http://susanrich.org
A transplanted Bostonian, Susan Rich is the winner of the PEN USA Poetry Award as well as the Peace Corps Writers Poetry Award for The Cartographer's Tongue: Poems of the World, (White Pine Press, 2000). Her book, Cures Include Travel came out from White Pine...
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Doctors Without Borders; Amnesty International, Oxfam America, Barack Obama , Whit Press