Connect/Exchange is a national residency scheme for artists with a screen-based practice. It is led by Northern Film + Media in partnership with BALTIC, The NewBridge Project, Metal, Chapter and Stills, and is supported by Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts of Council Wales and ERDF.
The scheme has been developed around the concepts that supported time for research and development is an important aspect to creative practice; that hosting and hospitality are essential; that a mix of partners creates a valuable and dynamic mix to the expertise and approaches across the project and that everyone’s opinions and experiences are valuable.
• An induction week provides an overview of the city, artistic community and initial introductions. The second part takes a flexible, open-access approach meaning artists can work around their specific needs – for some this is solid block of time; for others, a few days every two or three weeks worked best.
• We want to ensure artists make connections through formal introductions and also from those incidental-yet-important conversations which take place over a pint or a coffee. The partners are the experts about the best people to meet, the best organisations to have contact with in their city.
• Wider sector knowledge tells us there’s a real lack of support for R&D, especially funded support. I’ve been clear from the start that artists will be paid for this residency, with an additional budget for travel, accommodation and materials. This is essential to our ethos – treating artists as valued professionals, and also allowing us to support those from a wider range of economic backgrounds.
Part of the approach of Connect/Exchange is investigate how an intensive intervention in an artist’s career can have a long-term impact. A year after their residencies, artists from the pilot rendition reported that “…because of the carefully tailored programme of talks, casual networking opportunities and events… I was put into a context where collaborations developed naturally”. In addition, Connect/Exchange “…provided a direct test run for a research approach then used on a residency in China. This culminated in a solo show at the Chinese Art Centre, Manchester 2014. This in turn has led to showing work in HOME’s third exhibition in November 2015”.
From the 2017 rendition, one artist reported that: “taking part in this residency has changed the way I’ve worked ever since”. Another said they “experienced the location in a listening, wandering way and I gained confidence by doing that”; whilst someone else “knows better what I need to make my best work”. A further artist has already included work developed from Connect/Exchange in an exhibition; another is hoping to do so for a touring version of an exhibition opening soon.