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    Image: Ulrika Ferm

    Residencies provide artists with an opportunity for an international breakthrough. The Finnish Institute in London has been actively developing artist residency projects in the United Kingdom and Ireland since 2002, together with Finnish art export organisations and information centres.

    The Institute has conducted a comprehensive survey about its residency activities so far (2002-2008) regarding the effects of residencies on the artists' work and career development. The aims of the survey are to summarise the experiences the artists have had during their residencies, to show the significance of artist residencies in internationalisation of art and art export, and to use the results to develop the Institute's residency programme further.

    The email survey was conducted in February 2009. The questionnaire was sent to thirteen artists, out of whom ten responded. The response rate was thus 76.9 percent, which can be considered excellent.

    The report on the results has been divided into three parts: Background, Results, and Suggestions for further development. The results of the survey, in turn, consist of five subsections: 1) Participation in residences, 2) Residencies as tools for networking, 3) Impact of residencies on artistic work, 4) Productions and activities during residency, and 5) Resources and other support.

    The survey shows that residencies offer artists an excellent opportunity to work on their art, to network with prominent international art organisations, curators and other artists, and to deepen their knowledge about the art scene of the receiving country. Possible exhibitions, open studios, artist talks and publications collectively comprise the heart of residencies. Experiences gained during the residency lead to internationalisation of the artists' work and the subsequent utilisation of the experiences in working with domestic art organisations.

    Based on the survey results, the Finnish Institute proposes some steps to be taken in order to develop international artist-in-residence projects further. These steps include specifically investing in both artist exchange and long-term residency programmes, implementing a mentoring system, developing a pre-departure information kit for the artists, and investing in the role of Finnish cultural institutes abroad as key partners supporting residency projects. The survey suggests that Finland's cultural institutes operating abroad are essential partners in setting up and supporting residencies for artists. With their broad local knowledge and their vast contact base, the institutes hold a key position in forging a functional tri-based model between residence organisations for residency projects and their funding.

    "Institutes form a platform for forging sustainable residency partnerships and a radar in the search for best partner organisations," says Hanna Harris, the Arts and Culture Programme Director at the Finnish Institute in London.