Charlotte Street’s Urban Culture Project Studio Residency Program provides free studios and related support to promising and accomplished artists in order to support continued artistic and career development. These studios are located on upper floors of three downtown office buildings, leased to Charlotte Street at no- or low-cost. These three studio facilities are located within a few blocks of one another, thus inserting the presence of some 40 artists per year into the heart of Kansas City’s downtown business center.
Studio Residents are selected annually through a highly competitive process by rotating selection panels of leading artists and arts professionals, with the quality and contemporary relevance of work being primary criteria for selection. These artists are awarded free studio space with 24/7 access for one year terms, with new terms beginning each September. Residents are now eligible to reapply for a second, year-long term if they have made exceptional use of their studio and meaningfully contributed to the vitality of the program in their first year. Their second year applications are reviewed alongside, and subjected to the same competitive selection process as those of new applicants.
The studios provide crucial space for these artists to focus on their work and development, and situate them among a community of artist peers, such that they have a network in immediate proximity from whom they gain inspiration, critical feedback, and encouragement, and with whom they share resources. As part of their residencies, artists volunteer five hours per month, assisting with Charlotte Street Foundation activities.
Open Studios, hosted twice annually (December and May), provide direct public access to the studio residents, their working environments, and their completed and in-process works. In addition to open studios by the visual artist residents, these events include live performances by the performing residents and other special studio-based installations, talks, demonstrations, and events.
The residency program has also grown to include professional development and community-building components:
- At the onset of residencies, artists complete a “goals and strategies” worksheet, setting artistic and professional objectives and benchmarks for their residencies. At the end of their terms residents complete a final report, describing their experience, accomplishments, and progress over the course of the year.
- A mentorship program (piloted in 2010 and expanded in 2011) links residents one-on-one with artists and arts professionals from the broader community, with whom they meet several times over the course of their term. These volunteer mentors provide assistance and feedback to residents as they strive to meet their goals, and help to further connect them with Kansas City’s arts community. Meetings among residents and their mentors take many forms, from studio visits to assistance with proposals and applications, to attending an exhibition opening or lecture together, to discussing graduate schools, to brainstorming new projects and directions.
- Studio visits by local and regional artists, curators, critics, and gallerists are arranged to add another layer of critical feedback and professional experience for residents.
- Self-organized groups of residents range from a critique group to a critical theory reading group to a group who will organize field trips to museums and galleries in other cities in the region, to a group who will manage the studio residents’ blog. Each group has a leader or co-leaders responsible for organizing these activities.