The Foundation recently invited Alaska artists to apply to our new Artist Residency program, and announced the selection of the first four artists from different communities in the United States to journey to Alaska this Fall for residency experiences of their own. This program has forged a new collaborative effort between eight different artist residency sites, four located in Alaska, and the other four located in the Lower 48 states. Learn more about these organizations here. We hope that this program will create new connections between the incredible creative wealth of our state with local communities Outside that have established creative activity, highly accomplished artists, and a desire to explore new forms of art practice and cultural discovery.
This is an important milestone in the Foundation’s efforts to provide direct support to Alaska’s creative practitioners. For more than a decade now, the Foundation has provided grants to individual artists. These grants support artist projects, fellowships, and recognition of Alaska’s mature artists with a most distinguished career. These awards have been well received, and artists indicate the support has had material impact. However, over the past several years the Foundation has discovered there are additional ways to support artists that should be considered.
Our discovery of the value of artist residencies developed through a five-year program in partnership with United States Artists. This program supported over 30 residencies of United States Artists Fellows with 11 different arts organizations in Alaska. What resulted from those experiences was a new found appreciation of Alaska’s rich cultural resources among a base of artists who are recognized nationally as leaders in their artistic fields. Practically every one of these artists told us their experience in Alaska had a profound effect upon their own practice. By 2012, we knew we had to do more to tap the richness of these engagements, provide further opportunities for these connections, and include support for Alaska’s artists to achieve similar experiences. Thus, this new Artist Residency Program came to fruition.
Foundation staff just completed site visits with all eight of the residency program partners. These visits were remarkable. Not only did our time with them reaffirm how capable and well-equipped these organizations are, but also clearly put in place the strong desire of these residency programs to expand their relationship with a broader network of artists, especially those from Alaska. There is no question for us that the willingness and creativity of all of the organizations involved in this program will provide a rich experience for all the artists involved, and the program will stand as a unique example of cross-community collaboration to support artists’ work.
In just a few weeks we will welcome four new artists to Alaska. They will spend eight weeks with their hosts, discovering what Alaska has to offer, most likely creating or forging new work in their discipline, and engaging deeply in the local community where they are staying. This will also be a good opportunity for Alaskans to make new connections with these artist which we hope will be the start of many long-term or lifelong friendships. It’s exciting to think just what will be discovered through this process!
We will continue to share stories and experiences that grow out of this new program. We will post new blog entries from the artists and host organizations involved in the program in the coming months, and plan to document through photography, video and insightful writing what evolves from this collaborative work. We have much to look forward to.