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Alliance for Artist Communities 2014 Conference   10.24.14

I attended the Alliance for Artist Communities annual conference in Charleston, SC this week. This was my first time at the event; I had been invited previously to present a Flux Death Match-style panel discussion but chose not to go when I found out that travel and accommodations for presenters isn't covered, nor do they receive free entry to the entire conference (only the day on which they present). Things might be different this year, but three years ago it seemed important to take a stand against what I dramatically refer to as the "exploitation of content providers," especially during a conference that is tailored to support and educate advocates of creative communities.

So, I was especially grateful to have received a generous travel grant from Ohio Arts Council this year to attend. It's really important to get out of the bubble of the Cleveland art scene and enter a bubble of another kind for at least one week out of the year--the bubble of arts administrators who run residency programs, and our allies. There were keynote speeches, tours to a taxidermy studio and galleries, pop up performances, talks about experimental and process-oriented residencies, and roundtable discussions of all sorts that might somehow influence SPACES work at some point.

With so many different kinds of niche residency programs, it's hard to please all of the people all of the time, but the field is so expansive that the Alliance (or some other organization) might consider investigating a different tip of the artist communities iceberg. The needs of writers, visual artists, artisans, dancers, process-oriented artists, social practice artists, filmmakers, etc are vastly different and there is no one-size-fits-all method for this field. And, like many other conferences, the manufactured importance lies in the attendees' belief that there are so many things they don't know and they really need this conference to tell them how it's done, rather than enter into an environment that celebrates the numerous creative approaches to residency programs and develops ways to keep them relevant.

Maybe it's time for a new kind of conference about residencies. Who's in?

Inside a taxidermist's studio
Inside a taxidermist's studio

Author: Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
Category: General

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