Six Years of Building With You!

2018 was a musical year.

A year of beats, melodies, remixes, found sounds, polyphonies, and expansive choruses.

This past year, we granted excellent musicians, DJs, rappers, performers, zine-making research collectives, choreographers, filmmakers, scientists, roboticists, and designers the time, space, and support to travel to China to create something new. And we’ve been told (more than once!) that this years residencies have already changed lives. By creating opportunities for people to come together and collaborate across cultures, borders, and ways of being and making, we’re slowly but surely building a new reality where creativity can thrive, even in the face of growing adversity.

With the continued support of amazing people like you, we are very close to our $55,555 stretch goal to close out our 5th year! All of your donations allow us to provide greater support to the artists we work with,  our growing team, and our fiscally sponsored projects, Wing On Wo’s The W.O.W Project, BUFU, Yellow Jackets Collective. 

We are so driven to deepen our work with the 45 different residency programs in our network, and we’re phenomenally proud of what our 13 grantees accomplished this year, thanks to each and every one of you who continue to help us moving forward. 

Here’s a short overview of China Residencies’ projects this past year:

================= SUPPORTING ARTISTS ==================

At any given day, there’s about 300 of you ~ from all over the globe ~ checking out the opportunities and resources on You’re in good company!

For the 5th year of residencies in Crystal’s honor at Red Gate, Catherine Sarah Young researches recipes to reveal how climate change will impact Beijingers. As nation-states continue to flex their power over spiky borders, Catherine was one of several artists we worked with this past year to face visa complications, but there’s always a way -- she’ll be back in the spring to complete the ideas she developed around a Future Feast and a Planetary Renewal Spa on her first month stint. 

Catherine Sarah Young giving an open studio visitor a Disappearing Honey Facial.

BONAVENTURE Soraya Lutangu became the very first 夜生活 Nightlife resident to jump right into Beijing’s resonant club scene, creating new tracks towards her latest EP Mentor. Soraya tells us “the title of the EP is deeply inspired by the residency, it’s about learning with people — finding a mentor and learning and teaching other. It’s about the kinds of cultural exchange that happens in the club scene. I felt it there.” She’s on tour now, catch one of her shows in the Americas in December & January! 

Soraya Lutangu at I: project space in Beijing

And in partnership with Found Sound China and Lijiang Studio, six musical luminaries 姚春旸 (Yao), 苏泽尘 (sususu), Xinge Yehaiyahan (ChaCha), Jamel Mims (Jam No Peanut), Kayla Briët, and Travon Henry (eu IV) spent the summer travelling through Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, and Qinghai provinces to create new films, songs, and experiments in collaborative performance.

Found Sound Fellows & program directors Eddie Lu & Jeremy Thal on stage in Beijing

We made an exception for Sponge Gourd Collective to ride the highspeed rail on our #slowtrainresidency for their project, The Harmonious Commute, astutely chronicling how plans to create a Jing-Jin-Ji mega region across Beijing, Tianjin & Hebei will profoundly affect the capital region and surrounding countryside. 

Diane Zhou, Beatrix Chu & Daphne Xu of Sponge Gourd Collective 丝瓜集团

Many of the major urban changes revolve around the massive infrastructure in construction for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Documentary filmmaker and video artist Haruna Honcoop is starting the 本土性 / 实现行 Locality/Reality residency at the Inside Out Museum, where she will delve into the architectural conundrum of a city where some stadiums from the 2008 Summer games are already abandoned.

============= MENTORING COLLECTIVES & SPACES =============

There is absolutely nothing we love more than seeing the brilliant organizers we mentor in our Fiscal Sponsorship Program run with their ideas and expanded power. BUFU continued the virtuous circle of support in launching Eyedream, their very own residency for 17 new voices, delving into the generative truth that “Solidarity is Possible, but not Inevitable.” Yellow Jackets Collective continued to envision parties and terminologies for people from the greater Asian diaspora to thrive and celebrate each other. And Wing On Wo’s The WOW Project keeps regenerating, with current programs led last year’s fellows and early interns growing into their own as program managers. 26 Mott Street welcomed talks, workshops, and possibilities for reimagining traditional arts through a queer lens through Vincent Chong’s calligraphy and seal-making work on the 3rd 店面 Residency.

Vincent Chong leading an intergenerational calligraphy workshop in a NYC Chinatown park.

In 2018, we’re also supporting Red Gate Residency in celebrating their 18th anniversary with their first ever crowdfunding campaign to support reciprocal residencies for outbound Chinese artists to wonderful partners in Iran, Australia, Portugal & Taiwan.

If you'd like to help them out, please consider contributing donations to any of our fiscally sponsored organizations:


============= SUPPORTING RESIDENCIES =============

New residencies abound! 

We visited new and expanded programs in cities like Changsha and Chengdu, and held the 3rd edition of our Residency Knowledge Exchange at Untitled Art Space in Jinze, a beautiful water town outside of Shanghai. Residency directors work so hard to create space for others, so we think it’s crucial for them to get some time away from it all to reflect, recuperate, and meet each other. 

Residency directors & artists John Lui, Kim Jiyoung, Yang Jialin, Charlotte Chin, George Liu Zhen, and Cai Liyuan.

This year, we’re also deepening our support to train the next generation of arts administrators and cultural changemakers through our Residency Knowledge Fellowship. Xu Xiaoyao will be moving to NYC to spend three months working with us, before continuing the year at I: project space in Beijing. She’ll be joining then switching places with Shaonan Xi, who will become our Beijing program manager and summer fellow in NYC.

We’re building more resources, like a residency starter pack, to ease newer programs through the growing pains of getting off the ground. We keep our deep commitment to recognizing the value of labor in the creative fields, and advocate for fair wages for not just our growing team, but also for artists, interns, and contributors who make the world more interesting. We’re proud to be one of the growing number of W.A.G.E. certified cultural organizations, and we implemented many small, gradual changes that you might not notice, but that will make a huge difference in the long run. We made the website more secure (https everywhere!), bilingual, and inclusive so it's accessible to people with disabilities. And this year, pegged the Crystal residency stipend amount to inflation, so that it will go up every year.  

Clara Lu, Carol Zou & Kira Simon-Kennedy's panel about Resisting Gentrification in Chinatowns

As always, we are dedicated to connecting creative people with opportunities in China and beyond worldwide through Rivet, and to deepening our ties through networks and events like TransCultural Exchange's summit in Québec, Res Artis' conference centering indigenous residencies and environmental sustainability in Lapland, On The Move's general assembly in Lisbon, and the Alliance of Artist Communities' conference in Philadelphia, were we spoke about how community-led arts initiatives can counter gentrification in Chinatowns.

And of course, our love of dumplings is eternal.

We held our 5th anniversary party at Mood Ring in Brooklyn, and radiated remote vibes to the many gracious hosts of satellite parties from Seattle to Hangzhou!

Jazmin Jones & Katherine Tom of BUFU at our 5th dumpling party at Mood Ring

~~~ Mark your calendars for quadruple celebrations in NYC this winter, with a Meme Dumpling Internet Art Party on January 13th at Orbital, WOW & YJC celebrations at Abrons Art Center on February 16th, YJC’s Queer Lunar New Year Party on February 22nd at the Kockdown Center, and a Found Sound China Residencies Dumpling Party benefit concert on March 3rd! ~~~


At the start, two of us set out to create something, hopefully something lasting, that would change who had a chance to do interesting things in China. As Crystal laid out in our early mission statement: “Diplomacy shouldn’t just be left up to the politicians.”

If cancer hadn’t cut her brilliant life short, she would have been able to see the change her ideas and initiative set off.

China Residencies founder Crystal Ruth Bell in Kunming during our first research trip in 2013.

We continue to work towards different ways of challenging the status-quo, as the 5th resident in her honor, Catherine Sarah Young, said during a recent talk in Beijing: “Art is a way to present alternative norms.” We see the projects we support as ways and possibilities to start changing people’s minds, give hope, and recenter what individuals can do.

Crystal was remarkable, and as we keep going along the paths she envisioned, we strive to realize and carry forth her passion, generative curiosity and open generosity across everything we do at China Residencies.

We owe equally infinite thanks to:

Our fantastic board members Zara Arshad, Jay Brown, Christina Yuen Zi Chung, Samantha Culp, Miles Greenberg, Melissa Karmen Lee, Thea Mai Baumann, Rachel Marsden, An Xiao Mina, Maïa Sert, Adam Short, and Christina Xu; our dedicated research & development director Josue Chavez, our stellar summer intern Angel Tillery, our first Beijing program manager Jennifer Lindsay, contributing researcher Rebecca Catching, filmmakers Li-Lian Ahlskog Hou and Grace Naw; web developer Francis Tseng; advising accountant Sebastien Sanz de Santamaria; our supportive funders like the Australian Embassy in Beijing and the British Council, as well as the Center for Social Impact Strategy for giving us space over the summer to recenter our visions for the next five years.

And most of all, none of this would exist without all the generous individuals like you who donated to help us keep going, and most of all, without all the creative people who find this website useful and the wonderful residencies who host and nurture creativity by helping to bring individuals' ideas into existence.

================== WHAT’S NEXT ? ==================

We have lots to look forward to in 2019! 

We’re now well on our way to supporting a full team, and for the first time ever, we have already surpassed our annual goal and are working towards a stretch goal of $55,555 to round out our 5th year. Thank you for helping us along on our best year yet! We’re going to be extra ambitious and work towards an auspicious goal of $88,888 to raise by the end of next year, if you can help out, please consider making a tax-deductible donation via the Paypal Giving Fund, Facebook, or here:


Nearly half of the entire budget that goes towards funded artist residencies and research is spent on airfares, so we’re also immensely grateful for air mile donations. Last year, we saved upwards of $6,000 by using generously donated air miles to cover travel costs. Please get in touch if you're a frequent flyer with miles to spare. You can also support us by sneaking around the Great Firewall through our VPN affiliate, Vypr!

In 2019, we’re gearing up for even greater support for our collectives & fiscally sponsored initiatives, within and between communities, more public resources; and of course, lots and lots of dumplings to ring in the new year.

with gratitude & solidarity,

Kira Simon-Kennedy

Co-Founder & Executive Director

China Residencies