Final meeting on AiR, March 27th-28th 2012


Creativity needs experience. It arises not only from the acquaintance with pieces of art, but also from stories, from chat and rumour as much as from reports and legends, from pictures, be it vast landscapes or portraits, from the moment you become aware of the particularity of one certain sound or movement as much as from ideas, theories and the exchange with other creative and specialists. Those are not only the sparks to light a new idea, but also the raw material to prevent thinking from running idle. Creation needs silence and distance from everyday life, a room to cut ones impressions off from the everchanging world and to give them a shape that can be passed on to fellows and descendants. It needs a room for cooperation, where art is prevented from turning into mere production by a lonely craftsman in maintaining it as an open process whose results nobody can entirely foresee. And not to hang idly in the void creative progress needs knowledge and techniques passed on by the old to the young to not let them dry up.

Giving artists the possibility to travel, to work in a studio, to carry out researches and to meet other artists and experts, Artist in Residency (with the poetic abbreviation AiR) adresses all these needs. The idea to host artists and support networks, creative exchange and cooperation is quite old. Already in the beginning of the 20th century first art colonies, mostly maintained by rich patrons, emerged. The intitiative of local organisations, institutes and individuals all over Europe contributed to its development by an huge range of programmes and projects in diverse forms and figures and various target groups - designer, painter, dancer, choreographer, writer, architects, curator, critics… - so that now artists are facing a quite elaborated network of opportunities with an increasing standard of quality and support by funding organisations. Two of those organisations giving artists the opportunity to get creative in their rooms are Stanica Žilina-Záriečie in Žilina and Banská St a nica in Banská Stiavnica.

The name On AiR (on Artist in Residence) represents an European program led by Transartist (Netherlands) whose aim is to inform artists about this opportunity and related details as f.e. where to find a suitable organisation, how to cooperate with them, where to find money, how to present oneself to organisations etc. Together with members from Portugal to Turkey, among them also Žilina-Záriečie in Žilina and Banská St a nica, they organized workshops on AiR programmes, as was given in Bratislava, but on AiR gave also room for the Exchange of ideas upon AiR and the identification of problems that need to be tackled.

After two years of cooperation also this programme took an end. The final meeting took place in Izmir, a huge city at the coast of Aegaeis, that – rumour has it – was once build up by the Amazones. Here has been room to dicuss not only the results, successes and problems of the former project, but also to give a brief sketch for a future program.
There are several problems that emerged during these years and a couple of hitherto ignored issues that turned out to be important: The workshops under the guidance of Transartists included also lectures and sessions in English bringing along language problems, there was the need of higher flexibility concerning content, target group and frequency of the workshops. As an answer to these problems Transartists initiated the foundation of a programme called On AiR academy. Future workshops should get organized by the local organizations themselves as to the needs of local artists. To guarantee the workshop quality Transartists is going to give trainings for members, who’ll finally get certified trainers on AiR. This programme should start in September with the support of the Leonardo programme for lifelong learning.

Concerning other tasks and issues, especially in terms of the sustainability of AiR programmes, the future project should contain a couple of groups including organisations, institutions and individuals that are intested in these particular questions. To give an example I`ll just mention three:

- Advocacy
Artist in residence programmes need money that cannot be covered by organisations and artists alone. Therefore they have to convince funding organisations or other institutions to support them. And in return they need, of course, some account including the value of their programme and their need. So it’s quite useful to give once in a while some thought to the concrete value of travelling artists and their needs. As to that some further questions arise: Who takes advantage from AiR programmes actually? Why should funding organisations, individuals or the society quite generally support AiR programmes and how much is for them reasonable to effort? Where should projects apply and in which ways? How to spotlight the value of Artist in residence programmes?

- Transmission and preservation of Techniques and Knowledge (specialized residencies)
As already mentioned: innovation should be aware of traditions, that means of old knowledge and techniques. It provides not only patterns for the implementation of new ideas, but also inspiration. Artist in residence can support the connection of tradition with new directions, for example in design and industry, by including formats that support the transmission and preservation of skills; residencies in special centres, meetings and networking etc.

- on AiR Think Tank „Art in Society“
To back up the efforts of all those groups it’ll be very fruitful to carry out some general investigations about the relationship between art and society. This could include for example the researches and reflexions on the financial, artistic, social etc conditions and circumstances under that AiR flourished, how it looks like nowadays, the interrelation of AiR with the society, but of course also the value of AiR and its need.

A stronger cooperation and exchange between the member organisations along with mutual visits should improve and maintain the quality of its residences.

For sure, most of these plans are still mere ideas, still too vague to build up a frame for concrete activities. But now there is a sketch in that further discussions and meetings can tie.

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