Blog

2.19.13

Lessons from NDP’s Production Residencies for Dance Pilot Phase

Steven Skerritt-Davis
Program Coordinator, NDP

Over the next few weeks, the NEFA blog will feature a series of posts highlighting the National Dance Project’s (NDP’s) Production Residencies for Dance (PRD) program. The program was created with generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation following a 2009 study’s findings that late-stage residencies are the least developed and most under-resourced residency opportunity in the field. This important and evolving part of NDP supports intensive residencies where dance artists partner closely with residency sites to refine new work directly before premiere and/or touring.

We kick off the series with findings from a program evaluation of PRD’s pilot phase conducted by M. Christine Dwyer of RMC Research Corporation. The main lessons from the evaluation are below, and a full summary can be found here. NDP staff incorporated these lessons in revising program criteria and process for the second round of PRD grants. We continue to reevaluate and refine the program with help from participating artists and residency partners. 

PRD Pilot Phase Evaluation Findings:

Lesson #1: Advance funding and planning are critical, but timing is tricky. 
Lesson #2: Finding the right residency partner takes time and effort.
Lesson #3: Expressing an explicit commitment to production residency goals is a good practice.
Lesson #4: Technical staff are key players in a production residency.
Lesson #5: Ideally, both dance companies and residency partners achieve capacity-building goals.
Lesson #6: Production residencies can be opportunities for gaining feedback from trusted colleagues and audiences.
Lesson #7: The building of longer-term relationships between dance companies and residency partners should be an explicit goal.

NEFA is not alone in our research into artist residencies.  Over the past few years, the Alliance of Artists Communities in Providence, Rhode Island, has conducted some great in-depth research regarding the importance of artist residency opportunities. Their reports include Mind the Gap: Artist Residencies and Dance and Surviving to Thriving: Sustaining Artist Residencies. In addition, the Alliance has also created a residency database and compiled resources on their website: www.artistcommunities.org/residencies.  Another good residency resource is ResArtis, which also provides a database of residency programs and opportunities worldwide for many different disciplines.

In upcoming posts we will highlight several residencies from the pilot and second round of PRD grants and talk about our evaluation processes and their impact on the program’s development. As you’ll see, the residency opportunities PRD supports make a big impact on the artists and their work.  Our hope is that by sharing these lessons, stories, and resources we add to the ongoing conversation about artist residencies and demonstrate the value of residencies to artists and their work as well as to residency partners and their communities.

Be sure to catch my other posts in this NDP PRD blog series:

  1. Lessons from NDP's Production Residencies for Dance Pilot Phase (2.19.13)
  2. Production Residencies: Pilot Year Case Studies (2.22.13)
  3. Production Residency: Palissimo/Wexner Center for the Arts (2.25.13)
  4. Production Residency: Brian Brooks Moving Company/DANCEworks Santa Barbara (2.27.13)
  5. Production Residency: Emily Johnson, Catalyst/MASS MoCA (3.1.13)
  6. NDP's PRD Program Evaluation and Lessons Learned (3.4.13)