Since 2000, the Ministry of Culture (then Council of Cultural Affairs) has engaged in cultural diplomacy by partnering with artist villages in the USA, France, Australia and the Czech Republic. Several Taiwanese artists are selected each year and receive funding to go abroad on residency exchange, enabling them to find inspiration in a different cultural setting. In 2001, Taipei Artist Village was established and became the first public-funded artist village in Taiwan. Over the last decade or so, several private organizations and local governments have begun to utilize idle space to run artist villages, and they are now playing a key role in cultural exchange and mobilizing artistic energy in the local community. Artists and the public and private sectors are now attaching more and more importance to the multi-faceted value of artist villages, and more residency-based exchange programs are taking roots all over Taiwan.
By establishing the "Arts Residency Network, Taiwan", a bilingual, easy-to-understand website, the Ministry of Culture aims to compile information on local and international artist villages and provide an platform for exchange and services for local and international artists, curators and arts and cultural institutions. The platform will also be a place for the Ministry to explain its relevant policies and grants to the public. In addition, a databank of artists who have participated in residencies abroad over the years as part of the platform will give insight to the actual benefits of international artist villages and artistic exchange. By sharing their residency experience, returning artists will be able to encourage other artists in need to apply for international programs, thereby broadening their horizon, enriching their creative energy and together galvanizing the growth of Taiwan's arts and cultural sector.
How did artist villages come about?
The idea of an artist village or "artist-in-residency" originated in Europe when aristocrats invited artists and writers to engage in creative work. Together, they discuss the meaning of life and also use this as a form of entertainment. After the 19th century, large enterprises, schools or foundations provided space and funding and encouraged artist to take residencies, thus bringing different inspirations to an era of burgeoning industrial development.
Toward the end of the 20th century, international travel became more and more convenient and artists from different countries began moving about the globe in their search for new cultural experience and creative inspiration. Artist villages gradually became important venues for international cultural exchange. Emerging new forms of experimental work and information caught the eyes of curators, turning artist villages into key hubs of information exchange. Furthermore, artist villages are no longer confined to a set time and space defined by the funding provider; they expanded to include community environments created by artists who share the same values or small artist-run spaces. Artists and many art projects wander between different regions, producing new creative energy within different cultural settings.
In the 21st century, the term "artist village" can no longer encompass the diverse facets of artist-in-residency programs. Key residency organizations worldwide like Res Artis (Europe), Trans Artists (Netherlands), Alliance of Artists Communities (USA) and Triangle Network (UK) are also broadening their definitions of "artist-in-residency". Residencies are no longer just about a space to move in and create; more and more emphasis is now being placed on the positive energy generated through cross-regional and cross-disciplinary dialogues and exchange between artists.
The Ministry of Culture provides funding for the operation of artist villages and for artists to participate in residency programs abroad in the following ways:
1. Artist village operation subsidy
The Ministry of Culture has formulated the "Ministry of Culture Operation Guidelines for Subsidizing Artist Village Operations". The objectives are to encourage the organizing of various types of cultural exhibitions and events, assist private and public artist villages in Taiwan in hosting international residency programs and improving their facilities and technical equipment. "Artist village operation" in the Guidelines refers to the planning and provision of art spaces or idle spaces for residency, creative practice and exchange by creative talents engaged in various forms of cultural work.
2. Grants for artists to participate in residency programs abroad
The Ministry of Culture has formulated the "Operation Guidelines for Selecting Cultural Talents to Participate in Residency and Exchange Programs Abroad" with a view to incubate talents in various forms of cultural work. Two types of grants are provided: (1) Several cultural talents are selected every year to participate in residencies offered by artist villages in other countries that have signed a contract with the Ministry of Culture. (2) Cultural talents who apply for residencies abroad on their own and are accepted may apply to the Ministry for funding.