Artists and workers in cultural institutions have always travelled far for work and inspiration. Cultural mobility is thus not a phenomenon of present days, but a constant process that each society experiences differently.

The World is Turning into a Village: New Communities and the New Public

As early as in the early modern times, the courts of noblemen practiced the custom of sending their artists abroad to gain experience and financially supported their journeys in order to maintain the artistic taste of the community at the court on an international level. (see Glauser 2009, p. 14). This tendency experienced a noticeable shift in modernity, when the artists emancipated themselves, became free and independent creators and when the art market started to develop. This way, the possibilities of exchanging experience even outside the privileged circles became accessible to them. Since the mid 19th century, artists and intellectuals from reform movements and the Avantgarde have been searching for various alternative forms of social establishment, for an alternative public and free space for creation. While in the cities, artists' houses were developing into workplaces and dwellings of art communities, in remote rural and natural sites art colonies developed, where artists came to live and work. Internationally respected and widely popular centres, "Global villages" of their sort emerged, which attracted also artists from abroad. Art colonies and artists' houses were predecessors to the current studio houses and residency programmes for artists.

Some residency houses abroad, which were established already at the beginning of the 20th century for artists from the German speaking area, exist until today — for instance Villa Romana in Florence or Villa Massimo in Rome, which belong to the most renowned cultural institutions of Germany.
In the 20th and 21st century, residency programmes experience a great boom — especially during the phases of social change, which are always connected with the changes in art practice. The term "artist in residence", frequently used today to denote visiting artists in residency houses and mobility programmes, originated in the 1960s in New York. There, artists were given a special permission to use lofts as living and working spaces. The only requirement was to post a visible sign with the text "Artist in Residence" (A.I.R.) on such a building (see Glauser 2009, p. 15). In the Federal Republic of Germany, artists' houses and art programmes, which sent artists abroad, emerged during the 60s and 70s, but also residency programmes came into existence, which were initiated both by the state and the artists themselves.

The former German Democratic Republic and former Czechoslovakia focused mainly on work and recreational stays for domestic artists. The official "friendship communities between nations" and art agencies also assigned internships abroad. Despite the fact that the state's cultural policy did not take the initiatives of alternative art communities into consideration, alternative platforms sporadically emerged which existed in parallel with official structures and international sub-cultural relationships started to develop along with them.
The new wave of founding international artists' houses arrived after the political transformation. For this purpose, mainly uninhabited rural farmhouses and noblemen's estates were reconstructed and used. In recent years, former industrial areas and factories, which are being converted into international residency spaces for artists, have been increasing in number.
In the recent period, the cultural policy, municipalities and institutions have also been discovering the model of residency programmes for artists and drawing on the experience of independent art and culture scene, which has offered an experimental environment and an engine for new developmental tendencies and practices already for a long time. Precisely the process-oriented "DIY" mentality of the alternative scene, which is often based on unconventional structures, provides indispensable alternatives for the support and mobility of new generations of artists.

While in Germany state institutions for the international exchange of artists exist, in the Czech Republic the possibilities of supporting residency projects are less diverse, which is also reflected in scholarship opportunities. The Czech Ministry of Culture supports the international activities of artists as well; however, the global networks of cooperating institutions and foreign cultural institutes, such as the Goethe-Institut, are also of great importance for the continuation and development of residency projects.


1960s and 1970s:
New Residency Houses and Programmes

In 1960s the first state exchange programme — >b>The Berlin Art Programme of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) was established in the Federal Republic of Germany, which has also had its own exhibition space for the receivers of scholarships since 1978. Today, the DAAD programme is one of the oldest and most renowned residency programmes for artists in Germany. As part of this programme, 15 to 20 internationally respected artists, writers, composers and filmmakers are invited to Berlin every year. In 2015, the Czech artist Jiří Kovanda was invited there. Currently, no similar programme exists in the Czech Republic. DAAD also organizes programmes, whose aim is to send abroad artists, workers in cultural institutions and scientists currently living in Germany.

In 1974, the artists' house Bethanien (Künstlerhaus Bethanien) with an international studio programme was established in Western Berlin. Today, more than 20 young visiting artists from abroad, who are invited through partner institutions, come here every year.
Künstlerhaus Bethanien presents the work of its scholarship holders by means of exhibitions, open studies and publications — since 1994 also through its own academic journal for art and criticism called Be Magazin.
Shortly before then, in 1971, the artists' houses Künstlerhäuser Worpswede were founded. These artists' houses are located in the compound of the eponymous historical art colony, at the old peasant homestead in the legendary area Teufelsmoor close to the city of Bremen. In the course of several decades, contemporary artists from the entire world were invited to stay here as part of its residency programme and a placement scheme emerged here with workshops, symposia and discussions. Presently, the support of international scholarships is halted and the premises are available to international projects. Attention is also focused on project cooperation with art schools, universities and institutions from the country as well as abroad, which corresponds with the current trend of residency programmes for artists.

The German Democratic Republic and Czechoslovakia also coordinated the artist exchange. The friendship communities between nations fostered bilateral relationships and mediated internships for artists abroad. Apart from cultural houses and clubs, they also operated work and recreational facilities for artists, writers, theatre workers and filmmakers. Examples of such facilities can be found in Wiepersdorf in Brandenburg or in Ahrenshoop, the former art colony by the Baltic Sea. Since the fall of Communism, both of these houses have been operated as international residency houses.

The New Wave of Establishing Artists' Houses and
the Expanded Scope of Art, Research and Practice

In the context of the political transformation, decisive changes took place in the area of art and culture. The creation of projects within the residency programmes for artists helped to interconnect the local scenes into an international network. Old noblemen estates and uninhabited peasant settlements, in particular, became the popular sites for the establishment of artists' houses. In Germany, this development is represented by the Künstlerhaus Schloss Plüschow in Macklenburg-Vorpommern (since 1990), Akademie Schloss Solitude not far from Stuttgart (since 1990) or Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral situated in the spa town Bad Ems in Rhineland-Palatinate (since 1995). In the Czech Republic, Chateau Třebešice in the Kutná Hora District served the similar purpose during 2003–2010. Akademie Schloss Solitude runs one of the most successful residency programmes for artists in Germany and with its 45 studios, it can provide accommodation for 40 to 70 artists, scientists and experts in diverse fields for 2 year-long periods. Besides individuals from the area of visual art, new media, literature, music/sound, theatre, design and even chess, people working in the fields of culture management, economy, law and social sciences are invited here. Recently, the areas of web design and digital journalism have also been included in the residency programme.

In 1990s, the concept of the art colony was revived. "Art villages" such as Künstlerdorf Schöppingen in the vicinity of Münster or Künstlerdorf Ahrenshoop by the Baltic Sea in Macklenburg, where Künstlerhaus Lukas is located are some of its examples. In the Czech Republic, the art colony Milkwood was formed in Český Krumlov. In a small Czech town Tábor, the art and culture centre CESTA (Cultural Exchange Station) organizes its own residency programme for artists. International artists' houses are undergoing a continuous process of renewal and specialization. They are opening up to new media and interdisciplinary approaches and experimental mediatory practices more and more and they are trying to involve participants from different professional areas as much as possible. At the same time, residency programmes related to specific projects are gaining importance just as well as short term stays and research stays, which represent an inseparable element of the programme of many exhibition spaces, networks and festivals.

In Germany, for instance the international studio program ACC Galerie Weimar, created in 1995 by the initiative of the municipality of Weimar, relies in its exhibition projects on annual topics. Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst in Oldenburg in Niedersachsen has been granting scholarships for work to international media artists since 2000. An independent company Werkleitz Gesellschaft, with the seat in the town Halle an der Saale, offers scholarships and financial support to projects of documentary filmmakers, media artists and video artists. The Berlin festival transmediale, which focuses on art and digital culture, also offers support to various projects. In cooperation with the Vilém Flusser Archive of the Universität der Künste in Berlin this festival annually offers scholarships to art research projects focused on "transmedial and transdisciplinary situations" whose ideas often inspire the festival topics.

In the Czech Republic, the independent platforms CIANT and Tranzitdisplay have been enriching the art scene since the 90s by inviting international artists and scientists to the country. CIANT is an important platform for audiovisual and digital art and technologies, whereas Tranzitdisplay is devoted to the study of the critical discourse in the post-socialist environment and the international developmental tendencies in both art and society. Residencies in the Czech capital with the focus on a particular project have been offered by the Communication Space Školská 28, which focuses mainly on experimental music, art and performance. The Foundation and Center for Contemporary Arts – F&CCA is engaged in documenting the Czech art scene and runs not only the progressive Gallery Jelení, but since 1993 also organizes an international exchange of artists in order to raise the profile of the local scene abroad. Apart from that, the foundation is a founding member of Res Artis, an international network of artists' houses and residency programmes for artists.

Trends of the Year 2000:
Town Development, Community Formation and Discourse

An important impulse for the creation of residency houses is the revitalization of former industrial complexes. In 2001, the MeetFactory art centre was established in Prague, which became the largest international and independent artists' house in the Czech Republic. After the 2002 flood, when the water from the Vltava River destroyed the centre's original building in Holešovice, a new site was found for the centre in the former glassworks right by the railway tracks of the Smíchov train station. That is where MeetFactory managed to revive its activities as a centre of contemporary art with galleries, theatre companies and a club. Initially, it was mainly visual artists of diverse origin who were coming to Prague to take part in the residency programme of MeetFactory. In recent years, they were followed up by musicians, theatre practitioners, filmmakers, but also by curators, art critics and managers in cultural institutions. Every year, more than 30 scholarship holders are invited to MeetFactory. Some of the 15 studios are regularly inhabited even by local artists. The guests of the residency programme are included in the exhibition programme of the galleries, i.e. in the current programme of events and the placement schemes of the Meetfactory centre, where their work is presented in open studios.

In the former factory hall of the heavy manufacturing enterprise ČKD in Karlín, Prague, the international residency and exchange programme Karlín Studios of the Centre for contemporary art FUTURA is currently under way with 17 studios and galleries. In Brooklyn, New York, Karlín Studios run a residency studio for Czech artists.

In the compound of the old train station in the Berlin quarter Moabit, ZK/U - Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik — The Centre for Art and Urbanism was opened in 2012 with 13 studio apartments and exhibition spaces, but also a communal kitchen and garden. The impulse for its foundation as a cultural centre of the Moabit quarter came from the art group KUNSTrePUBLIK, which raised its own focus to a programme – art in public space. Over the past couple of years, 40 to 50 artists, who were selected in an open competition, lived and worked in this centre.

The art scene is also being increasingly enriched by temporary cooperation and exchange projects.
For instance the Berlin communication space Autocenter initiated the programme Gallery Residency, as part of which Galerie SVIT presented artists from the Czech Republic in 2014 and 2015.

In the tradition of outdoor exhibitions and sculpture symposia, summer schools, workshops and symposia are organized in many places today as unique forms of cultural exchange. With increasing frequency, academies and art universities are searching for the possibilities of setting up placements for visiting professors as part of the international exchange. For example, the Prague Academy of Fine Arts (AVU) has been inviting foreign artists and curators as visiting teachers for a one semester stay at Studio Šaloun since 2007. Recently, the German artist Simon Wachsmuth and curator Ruth Noack have stayed there.

In order to promote communal work, exchanges and discourse and support the young generation of artists, the Akademie der Künste in Berlin founded in 2009 the so called "Young Academy” ¬– Junge Akademie – and by doing so it continued in the current developmental tendencies in residence programmes for artists. Members of the academy, whose invitation to participate in the academy is an expression of respect for their work and an effort for a presentable representation of German art scene, issue recommendations for 12 to 14 scholarships at the Junge Akademie in Berlin. In 2014, Czech artist Dominik Lang was one of the guests here. A similar concept has been run since 2012 at the Akademie der Künste der Welt in Cologne. As a platform for exchange and production, this institution has been searching for postcolonial discourse and organizing residency programmes for current artists, theoreticians and curators from countries outside Europe.

In recent years, municipalities have also been discovering the format of residency programmes for artists as an essential element of their support of culture. For instance, as part of the Pilsen — European Capital of Culture project, the international residency programme OPEN A.i.R Pilsen was formed in the Czech Republic. This programme is conceptually comparable with the K.A.I.R. in Košice, Slovakia, which was the European Capital of Culture in 2013.

Many art initiatives shape the dynamics of the independent scene. We can see a new "do it yourself" generation with residency programmes for artists, often in the form of temporary projects.
In the Czech Republic, it is represented by the Jatka Project in Český Krumlov, which has been inviting artists and curators since 2004. In Brno, the initiative 4AM Forum for Architecture and Media brings artists from abroad to Brno in irregular time intervals to participate in residency programmes, who afterwards take part in specific projects as visiting artists. In Prague the Ferdinand Baumann Gallery, which focuses on contemporary art, performance, architecture and design, runs a residency programme within which visual artists prepare exhibition concepts directly at given sites.


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Welsch, Wolfgang. "Transculturality - the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today." Space of Culture: City, Nation, World. Eds. Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash. London, 1999. 194-213. Artist residencies are international meeting places for a get-together of artists. They offer a place to work for the Artists in Residence and form a link between the local scene and individuals engaged in the cultural and art sector from all around the world. In today’s globalized society and art scene, these artist residencies and residency programs are gaining more and more importance, and not only in Germany or the Czech Republic.

These pages are meant to give you an overview of artist residencies and residency programs in the Czech Republic and Germany and to inform you in detail about the Artists in Residence-program of the Goethe-Institut Prag, our partners as well as the Prague based art and culture centre MeetFactory.