Sometimes, the opportunity to travel, attend a conference, or work in quietude for weeks or months can be invigorating and inspiring. There is a sense of honoring the self as one’s artistic endeavors expand in unexpected, and often exciting, directions. Carving out time in a beautiful locale can make all the difference; there are so many opportunities!
When I accepted five Artist-in-Residency (AIR) positions over a period of ten years, the numerous benefits of residencies became obvious as my publication list grew. Each AIR offered a different enhancement experience: Sleeping Bear Dunes reflected Native American legends of the Great Lakes, Acadia’s scenic rockbound coast and islands strengthened my soul, North Cascades offered majestic mountains, wild rivers, and huge trees, and Crater Lake’s mystical quality was magnetic! Turkeyland Cove was an oasis of creative time and place (Martha’s Vineyard) to honor women’s creativity with no boundaries or expectations. It was a gift of total freedom in all ways, including a private chef!
Artist-In-Residencies are rapidly increasing within the United States and internationally. All are searching for applicants who have a clear vision of a creative project combined with a personal history of intent, commitment, and productivity.
Here are some of the benefits:
– Opportunities for private, focused time to work in some of the world’s most scenic locations.
– Many offer stipends ($2,000+) and travel expenses; I often came home with extra money in my pocket.
– You can present a 90-minute program in the U.S. National Parks visitors’ centers; check out Hawaii with a vehicle, stay in a three-bedroom home, and earn a $2,000 stipend. During this time, I promoted my work, in addition to explaining how the park was impacting my writing.
– The park staff might invite you to teach a class if you have a skill that you can align with their work. I play Native American flute and, when I was at the North Cascades, I was ferried by boat up to Stehekin, a breathtaking destination nestled deep in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. They asked me to teach the park rangers how to play simple songs around evening campfires. I stayed three nights, which was a wonderful get-a-way, and inspirational to my writing.
– When you choose to plant yourself at a quiet picnic table, folks from all over the world will stop by, and ask what you are writing. When I needed to break my solitude, I’d find a spot where people might casually walk by, and inquire. I wore a badge, announcing my position as the AIR.
– During many residencies, a writer has three to four weeks to offer additional programs for nearby libraries, museums, colleges, universities, schools, and writers groups. You can also visit local bookstores to promote your work.
After spending weeks exploring mystical lands, profound experiences were imprinted upon my soul. This beauty yearns to be expressed. AIR programs offered time and space for my mind to wander, and expand. These memories of beauty and serenity continued to enrich my work long after the AIR experiences. Most residency participants report extraordinary levels of achievement during a residency. I highly recommend offering yourself this gift of time and space.
These websites offer innumerable options: a week in California, a month in Maine, time in Australia, Spain, Japan or hundreds of other locales. Residencies of varied durations are offered in over 50 countries. There are also communal residencies available if you thrive on input from others. Explore:
If you need additional financial help, or if your ideal residency charges a fee (some do), explore creative-capital.org or transartists.org funding for financial assistance.
Laura Lee Perkins is a writer, educator and flutist. Author of 11 books and 150+ published articles, she was awarded 5 Artist-in-Residencies, produced 5 CD recordings and collaborated on three audio books. Perkins received 13 grants and placed 3rd in the 80th International Writers’ Digest Awards (Inspirational Category) and the 2017 Creative Writing Institute’s Short Story Contest. Laura Lee Perkins writes from the inspiration of the beautiful Maine coast from May-October and from the stillness of the Arizona desert November-April. Her public lectures and classes draw 5,000 attendees each year in Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Arizona.
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