Not all residencies are free, unfortunately. Some require you to cover your transportation costs (and depending on when and where you're flying from, airfares can get pricey,) other ask artists to pay a program fee to support the residency.
Unlike many European countries, the Chinese government doesn't provide much funding for residency programs. Residencies in China support themselves through diverse funding models: some are attached to commercial galleries, others are part of hotels, restaurants, universities, or real-estate developments, and others still are entirely artist-run independent spaces operating on a not-for-profit basis.
If you're considering applying for a residency that will require some of your own funds, here are five ways to find funding:
1. Apply for grants and funding in your home country, region or city.
This solution is best for suited for artists from areas with strong funding programs, generally Western Europe, Taiwan, Korea...
...but it can be difficult to coordinate timing applications and acceptance to residencies with grant-making schedules.
Resources for finding grants are often very local, so be sure to check at the city, regional, and national level in your country. You can also try to contact the cultural attachés at the Chinese embassy or consulate where you are, as well as your country's embassy, consulate, or cultural center in China. On The Move, a fantastic nonprofit dedicated to increasing cultural mobility, also publishes detailed guides and additional resources for international arts funding.
2. Crowdfund your residency.
On websites like Indiegogo, Kickstarter (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, or Ireland), Pozible (Australia,) Kiss Kiss Bank Bank (France,) Karolina Fund (Iceland) etc... Most countries have their own platform that allows individuals to raise funds for projects from their peers -- chose whichever one is easiest to use and known by the most people in your community. Running a crowdfunding campaign is also a great way to build a community around your work, and give friends, family, and fans something tangible in exchange for $5 or $50.
Crowdfunding is best for artists with a strong web presence on social networks and/or online following. Be forewarned, running a crowdfunding campaign is very time consuming, make sure to set aside a few weeks to prepare and a few hours every day while your campaign is running to promote it.
Some examples of successfully-crowdfunded residencies:
- Noah Schenk at the Inside Out Museum
- Jefferson Dancers
3. Find a patron
If you have a good relationship with a collector or institution that collects your work, inquire if they would like to fund your residency in exchange for a piece of art. Explain that by funding your residency, they are enabling the creation of a whole new body of work and giving you the opportunity to explore a new creative environment, grow the audience for your work, and make new connections in the international art world.
4. Recover your costs through work.
If you're an institutionally minded artist, some residencies might be looking for additional coordinators to help run their programs. Residences possibly could be willing to accept work in exchange for studio or lodging space. Artists with relevant language skills & work experience, as patience and social skills are a definite plus for proposing a work exchange.
If your residency spans a longer time period, you could also explore teaching, translation, or, if you medium lends to it, offering your artistic services commercially. Photographers, videographers, graphic designers, and writers might be able to pick up freelance projects related to their residency while in China. Artists have also been able to pick up commercial commissions with local and international brands or business during their residencies.
5. Sublet your place.
Subletting your apartment, room, or studio for the length of time you're gone might be enough to cover your residency, especially if you live in a city where the rent is high. Though this solution is best for artists who live and work in desirable locations (and have agreeable landlords!)
If the residency you're interested in doesn't provide housing, you can look into initiating a house swap on site like Knok or Love Homeswap.
We'll update this post if we hear of other creative methods. And please let us know if you find a magic money tree! In the meantime, you can always apply for fully funded opportunities.