Breakout session 2

Note on terms: ‘venue’ and ‘presenter’ is used interchangeably, but don’t necessarily mean the same thing.
‘Artist’ generally means choreographer, but also dancers, and potentially other artists.

First of all, what do we think a residency is?

A protected space
A supportive space, where you get feedback and can explore
A place to create new work
A place for the venue and the artist to share things in common, to connect.
An exchange: the artist gives something, the venue gives something, of mutual benefit
Important that the artists live and work in the location of the residency; sleep at the same flat, explore the same city etc. So the venue needs to be able to offer accommodation. This will allow an ‘artificial’ moment in creation.
(but does this mean you can’t do a residency in your home town/ city?)
Sometimes the artists engage with the venue / city.
Sometimes the artists withdraw into a quiet place.

How long does it need to be a residency?
A day is not a residency. At Hellerau a residency can be 3+ weeks. Artists would like flexibility – e.g. for the amount of time to increase if possible.

Can you have a residency with one person?
For Hellerau, it’s about one choreographer and company. They may exchange with other artists when they are there. But if the function is to have exchange between choreographers, this is a ‘Lab’.

Do you have to create new work in a residency?
Can it be about research and knowledge exchange? Perhaps this would be better termed a Laboratory.

Does a residency have to end in a performance?
Not necessarily at the time. But we think there needs to be reporting in some way, a work in progress, a sharing.
The residency can be the product.
An artist might do 3 residencies, developing a piece and then produce it.

So we had various definitions of residencies, but there were commonalities and we know a residency when we see one. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…then it’s a duck.

Are the forms and structures of residencies changing?

We had an example from Barcelona where the artist pays a small fee (200 euros). But they then benefit from marketing and management support.

But other than that, and given the variety of definitions above, we didn’t seem to think there is much change in forms and structures at the moment.

How do artists benefit from residencies?

As we become increasingly aware of global warming, should artists be travelling around the world to work, particularly if they have perfectly good facilities? Think Globally, Work Locally. So why do residencies?

  • The artist can get a different viewpoint on their work because people have a different cultural heritage. This develops the artist’s work.
  • Get influences from elsewhere
  • Get inspired by other people
  • Can work with specific communities, for e.g. gypsies
  • Allows ‘first contact’ between the artist and venue and to make new contacts.

How do presenters benefit from residencies?
The artists disturb the venue, they infiltrate, they contaminate. This is good for the venue; keeps it alert. There can be different music, different languages.

Venue can get kudos and cachet from hosting residencies. This can:

  • Reputational benefits
  • raise profile of venue
  • develop venue’s brand
  • give public relations value
  • Improve reputation / image of venue with artists
  • A residency enables the venue to be part of the creative process.
  • Dancers can create a vibe around the venue (and the city’s nightclubs!)
  • They enable the venue to start to develop long-term relationships. Venues don’t jump straight into co-productions with a producer. This can lead the venue to start curate a form of dance with a recognisable aesthetic, and to develop and audience for that aesthetic.
  • Ultimate residencies can create new work to present and sell.

Do the benefits of Residencies outweigh the costs and resources?
If you sell out a performance at the end, then yes. But that rarely happens.
Residencies are generally expensive for venues.

  • Residencies are usually something that are offered to the invited artists. The venue will usually have to pay accommodation, travel, per diems and possibly a fee.
  • The venue may have to close a studio to other use, where they usually generate income (e.g. dance classes).
  • Residencies don’t usually lead to paid performances. We shouldn’t confuse residencies with commissions.
  • However, they might lead to exciting new work in the long term.

Some venues have addressed the cost issue by building accommodation for the artists (Hellerau and Portugal). But this requires capital investment even if the ongoing costs are reduced.

All of these suggest that residencies are costly to the venue. So the benefits (section above) need to be strong.

How can presenters and artists reach out to the wider community through residencies?

We had specific examples:

Portugal – the venue is in a small region which is going through socio-economic change, urbanisation, rural depopulation. They ask artists to consider and respond to these changes. The rehearsals are open to the public. Thus a dialogue is opened on a subject relevant to the wider community.

Wales – A connection can be made with the local community of dancers.

Germany – residencies can take place in a specific location with specific social problems. E.g. a project in a city area with drug problems.

Spain – a residency can take place with a particular group (e.g. disabled people) or specific place and people, e.g. school.

Slovakia – they have done dance in the streets, showing that dance can be fun, can connect with people.

Slovakia – they have done international residencies (e.g. with a choreographer from Israel) which people are then interested in.

So our answer seems to be: take the artists out of the building.