Believing that the cultivation of new art and ideas is essential to human progress, the Alliance's mission is to advocate for and support artists' communities, to advance the endeavors of artists.
There are places — hundreds of them, in fact — where artists of all disciplines can go to work on their art: painters and playwrights, filmmakers and fiction writers, composers, choreographers, printmakers and poets, sculptors, scholars, and songwriters. In short, they are research-and-development labs for the arts, providing artists with time, space, and support for the creation of new work and the exploration of new ideas. Supporting today’s artists in the creation of new work is essential to human progress — not as a luxury, not as a leisure activity, but as a vital and necessary force in society. Artists’ communities are not about retreat; they are about advancement. Advancing creativity. Advancing human progress. Advancing the way we examine the world.
The products of that work — books, paintings, songs and symphonies, poems and plays, designs and dances, films and photographs — often surface months or years later. And while supporting museums, bookstores, orchestras and theaters is essential in providing artists avenues to showcase their work, artists’ communities offer an opportunity to invest in creation, in the leaps of imagination and risk-taking that compel a person to put pen to page, or fingers to keyboard, or brush to canvas in the first place. These moments often happen in private, away from public view, but they happen every day at any one of more than 800 artists’ communities around the world. No other field is dedicated solely to the creation of new work among independent artists, and for this, artists’ communities play a vital role in our human progress.
Field at a Glance
- an estimated 500 artists’ communities in the US and approximately 1,500 worldwide
- 15,000 artists are in residence each year
- residencies provide $40 million in support to artists annually
- 65% are multidisciplinary, serving visual artists, writers, composers, filmmakers, choreographers, and others
- 60% are in rural areas and small towns, while 40% are in urban areas
- 75% are engaged in eco-stewardship – including historic preservation, land conservation, and sustainable living practices
- 90% have public programs that engage the local community
You may not have heard of artists’ communities, but you’ve most likely heard of the artists they have served, and some of the works that have been created there: Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Gregory MacGuire’s Wicked; Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me With Apples, Tender At the Bone, and Garlic and Sapphires; Thornton Wilder’s Our Town; Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay; Allen Ginsberg, David Sedaris, Marcel Duchamp, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Robert Rauschenberg, James Baldwin, John Lennon, Truman Capote, Bill T. Jones, Spalding Gray, Leonard Bernstein, Edward Albee, Langston Hughes, Liz Lerman, Sylvia Plath, Gwendolyn Brooks, Bob Dylan, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and many, many more.