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Artist Residencies

Through our partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts’ Arts in Education Division, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts offers Artist Residencies to schools, nonprofit service agencies, and community organizations working with both children and adults in Allegheny, Beaver, southwest Butler, Greene, and Washington counties.

An Artist Residency project is designed to have lasting benefits for all of the participants: students are fully immersed in an art form and see how it connects to life and learning, teachers are exposed to alternative ways of experiencing and sharing the creative process and what it brings to their classrooms, and administrators realize the ways in which the arts fully engage students and impact their learning across the curriculum.

As stated in the National Endowment for the Arts’ publication, Learning Through the Arts, “... the arts help us all better understand and interpret the world around us. The arts improve our ability to think critically and act creatively and offer us the opportunity to communicate our most profound thoughts and deepest feelings. Arts learning ensures that this creative spirit lives on, instilling a love and understanding of the arts to each new generation”.

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and our 49 Resident Artists fully embrace this philosophy and welcome the opportunity to share the skills and rewards of the creative process with enthusiastic and motivated participants.

Through residencies in dance, craft, music, folk arts, theater, media arts, literature, visual and interdisciplinary arts, schools and service agencies can expect to improve themselves and strengthen their communities. By immersing participants in the creative process from beginning to end, and giving them ownership of the process, Resident Artists model the needed focus and rigor of their respective disciplines. This focus and rigor translates seamlessly into improved performance and satisfaction in other areas of school and life.

The arts are proven to stimulate and enhance student performance in all curriculum areas and to encourage the development of improved self-image and empowerment. The arts provide opportunities for:

Imagination and creativity to flow
Communication and problem-solving skills to grow
Self-directed intrinsic motivation to be engendered
Teamwork to be encouraged and appreciated
Diverse thinking to take place
Individuality to excel
Positive self-expression to evolve

Matching funds are avaliable to support Artist Residencies ranging from 10 to 180 days for individual artists. Groups or ensembles may work for a minimum of five days.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Artist Residency Project?

Artist Residency Projects are designed to place professional artists into school and community settings where they can share the myriad benefits of their creative processes. Each Residency Project is a custom-designed collaboration between the host site and the Resident Artist. The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts‘ Artist Residency Program was founded in 2001 through our partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts‘ Arts in Education Division.

Who is eligible for an Artist Residency Project?

Schools, nonprofit agencies, and community organizations working with both children and adults in Allegheny, Beaver, Southwest Butler, Greene, and Washington Counties are eligible for an Artist Residency. School-based residencies include public, private, parochial, and charter schools serving elementary, middle, and high-school students. Residencies can also be designed at the collegiate level. Community-based residencies in social and human service agencies include social rehabilitation sites for adults, special needs children in an inclusion-oriented program, senior citizen facilities, as well as projects at many other types of community and cultural organizations.

What are the benefits of an Artist Residency?

Studies have shown a significant correlation between arts education and skills development, resulting in improved levels of achievement. Skills developed through the arts are recognized as being essential elements for success in today’s society. These skills, as noted by Robert Root-Bernstein, Professor of Physiology at Michigan State University, include the ability to:

observe acutely
think spatially and kinesthetically
identify the essential components of a complex whole
recognize and invent patterns
gain empathy with objects of study
synthesize and communicate the results of one’s thinking, visually, verbally, or mathematically.

Teachers and artists working together gain skills and insights from each other that translate into improved learning for current students as well as future learners.

How many days constitute and Artist Residency Project?

Residencies can last anywhere from 10 to 180 days for individual artists. Grosups or ensembles may work for a minimum of five days. The days don’t need to be consecutive; a Resident Artist can work at a site one day a week for eighteen weeks, twice a week for five weeks or four times a month for the whole school year. Artists may work up to four hours per day with core group participants.

What is a core group?

An Artist Residency Project is designed as an in-depth media-specific experience for up to three core groups of students, not to exceed 30 students per group. The program is described as allowing a “full embrace” for a smaller number of participants rather than providing just a “handshake” for every student in the school. The artist may be introduced at an assembly, may do a whole school performance or slide show, may visit classrooms to talk with other students, and may provide workshops for teachers to take specific techniques and creative ideas back to their classrooms. Please welcome the Resident Artist to your site with the idea of positively impacting everyone in the building, but giving the core group students and teachers a fuller, richer, in-depth experience.

What kinds of artists are in the program?

This year, we have 49 Resident Artists in our program, including media artists, dancers, folk artists, musicians, visual artists, clown artists, and writers. These artists are professionals who are exhibiting, performing, and publishing regularly. If you open up a regional, or sometimes a national, newspaper, you are likely to see positive reviews of their works each week. Part of the skill set of a Resident Artist is his/her ability to communicate both the creative process and the techniques of his/her medium. Artist applying to the program undergo an independent panel review process. Qualifying artists are chosen based on the quality of their artwork, their ability to articulate their artform and residency project plans to an independent review panel of artists, educators, and administrators, and on their proven ability to fully implement a successful residency plan. The panel sends its recommendations to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, which makes the final decision regarding approval. Once approved, the Resident Artists are placed on our roster but are not employees of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. They maintain their own studio spaces and often work with other non-profit arts organizations.

How do the Resident Artists get paid?

Artist Residencies are funded by the host site with matching funds of up to 50% provided by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts through our partnership with the PA Council on the Arts’ Arts in Education Division. The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts pays the artist in full and invoices the host site for its match.

Is it difficult/competitive to receive matching funds for an Artist Residency Project?

It is not at all difficult, although artists’ schedules fill up quickly so make your requests in a timely fashion. The program is designed to operate on an on-demand basis, but funding is limited. Last year, we received over 52 requests for Artist Residency Project funding of which 35 were accepted and implemented.

How much will this cost?

Most individual Resident Artists are paid $200 per day. Some artists have slightly higher fees. Companies’ and ensembles’ daily rates vary depending on the size of the group. The host site is solely responsible for the cost of materials and for any compensation to the artist associated with travel expenses. Resident Artists excel at making the cost of materials for their projects affordable to the host sites.

How will the Artist Residency Project fit in with existing programs/curriculum?

Since the Resident Artist, representatives from the host site, and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts plan the residency project together, much care is taken to address Pennsylvania’s Arts & Humanities Standards in all art forms and to clearly articulate the goal of having the Resident Artist at the site. Artists and teachers communicate regularly regarding the intent of the project and how to tie the art form into a specific program and/or extend it throughout the curriculum. Often it is not the Arts Educators who are working with the Resident Artist but, rather the Classroom Teacher who recognizes how an artform brought to life by a practicing artist can fully illuminate a concept for students.

OK, I’ve decided that I want to participate in the program. What are the next steps?

Step 1: Think about specific areas of your curriculum or program that could benefit by having a Resident Artist with whom to work. Look through this Directory to see which artist(s) might provide insight or creativity to that area. You may call Mary Brenholts, Director of School & Community Programs at 412-361-0455, x368 to discuss which artist(s) might be most suitable to meet the needs of your host site. Read through the supporting materials included in this packet in order to get a better understanding if how the program works and how it is intended to improve host sites, now and into the future.

Step 2: Contact the Resident Artist(s) to discuss your ideas. Check on availability, daily rate, potential cost of materials, workshops for peer teachers and other items particular to each artist/artform.

Step 3: Complete the enclosed Artist Residency Request Form making sure to provide us with as many details as possible. If you are uncertain at this point about the source or confirmation of your matching funds simply write “pending” or “awaiting approval.” You may have funds provided by a school budget, district budget, a PTA, PTO, or PTG, or from a foundation or local business. Some sites hold fundraisers in their communities. The request form is not a binding document, it simply allows us to determine demand for the program and how to best allocate our funds. If you are unsure of how to complete the budget section, call us for assistance. Make certain to get signatures from principals or other appropriate administrators. Submit your request form as soon as possible to ensure having a good chance to receive matching funds from the Center.

Step 4: Meet with the Resident Artist(s) to review and complete the Artist Residency Planning Form. Use the questions as tools to help develop a comprehensive plan designed to have lasting impact. Set dates with the Resident Artist(s) as soon as possible! Submit your planning form upon completion.

Step 5: Once we have received your Artist Residency Request Form and we receive our funding confirmation from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, we will generate a paperwork package designed to keep the process moving forward cleanly and clearly. We are just a phone call or e-mail away at all times and love hearing from potential host sites to answer questions or share ideas.



Mary Brenholts
Director of School & Community Programs
412-361-0455 x368