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Artist residencies

Artist residencies are international units with specific programmes that promote the mobility of artists, providing creative professionals the best conditions for focusing on their creative efforts, gaining new impulses and knowledge, and developing contacts.

Residencies give artists an opportunity to step out of their daily routines so that something new could be created. For a period of time, residencies provide their residents with the time, space and resources needed for focusing on their creative work and professional development.

A residency programme period may vary from a few days to a couple of years, the most common programmes last a few months.

Depending on the focus of a given residency programme, people can work either individually or collectively, and in a specific field or combining various disciplines, for instance by addressing one topic across various disciplines.

Residencies are commonly linked to a certain place – residents’ work is often tied to the local environment and people, and generally a residency programme involves direct contacts and collaboration.

Residencies may include activities intended for the public, serving to diversify the local life. Using networks of artists, residencies also promote international cooperation.

Students of the Estonian Academy of Arts in front of the Narva artist residency. Photo by Marika Alver



Residency programmes use a wide range of funding models. An important source of funding is public funding, but support from private sector organisations is also gaining more popularity. Some residencies cover their residents’ expenses full, some expect the participants to pay their own costs and a participation fee. Most residencies, however, use combined funding where at least a part of the residents’ costs are covered by the organiser. Residencies’ contribution to local life deserves special attention as well, along with the accompanying local government support and collaboration with local businesses.

While the Estonian Ministry of Culture does not finance the activities of residencies, state budget resources have been allocated for the development of the Mooste külalisstuudio (MoKS) in 2007–2010 and for the development of the Narva residency since 2015. Foreign programmes have a significant role in funding residencies in Estonia.

Artist mobility is always a two-way process: as the creation of foreign artists working in Estonia enriches our cultural space here, it is important for our artists to participate in foreign residencies.

In 2015–2017, the Ministry of Culture is funding the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center’s residency programme in New York at the ISCP art centre, which will host an Estonian artist for two months every year. To date, the participants from Estonia include Marge Monko, Rael Artel and Anu Vahtra. In 2018, the resident is Paul Kuimet.

From 2018 to 2019, with the support of the Estonian Ministry of Culture, the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center and WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels offer four Estonian artists in total an opportunity to participate in the six-month residency programme in Brussels. 

The Cultural Endowment of Estonia uses its applied arts endowment to award a creative house grant to artists who move to foreign residencies.

The Väino Tanner Foundation (Finland) offers Estonian artists grants for creative work in the Mazzano Romano art residency in Italy.


Overview of residencies in Estonia

  • MoKS (MTÜ Mooste KülalisStuudio)is a meetingplace of global and local art and culture since 2001. Hundreds of artists from Estonia and across the world have contributed to the exhibitions, events and symposiums of this artist-led creative house. MoKS was built on the premise to offer a space for free creation but also involve artists in the local community and education.
    As most creative houses, MoKS operates under a project-based model, which means that application opportunities vary from year to year.
  • TAiR is an artist-in-residence programme developed in cooperation with Tarty City Council and the local creative community, aiming at promoting inter-cultural relations, openness, creativity and bringing more international contacts into Tartu’s cultural life. The programme is open for all creative disciplines, including writers, researchers and curators. Applications are admitted once a year in a public competition.
  • Narva kunstiresidentuur (Narva art residency) is a meetingplace that fosters inter-cultural synergy and interdisciplinary cooperation. The residency programme and its unique location provide artists a fertile environment for focusing on geopolitical (border) topics that are historically and socio-culturally sensitive. By involving art students, the local youth and citizen, the audience programme is designed for promoting integration in the diverse Ida-Viru county.
  • Muhu A.I. Kunstitalu (Muhu A.I. residency) is an international art residency funded by the Estonian Artists Association. The residency is centred around modern art and focuses on current cultural issues and the role of art in society. The residency period is 30 days from June to September, and residencies are concluded with a retrospective exhibition. The residency welcomes representatives of all creative industries whose work and interests are linked to the archaic living and natural environment of Estonia. 
  • Kanuti Gildi SAALi etenduskunstide residentuur (Kanuti Gildi SAAL performing art residency) has been designed for working with ideas, testing them by yourself or with the audience. A grant residency lasts for one month and is not intended for preparing performances or other activities. It is recommended to hold 1–4 public demonstrations for an audience during a month. Kanuti Gildi SAAL also offers residencies without a grant for which there is no fixed-term public competition or performance restrictions.
  • MASSIA is a platform for individuals, groups, artists, scientists and anyone who wants to radically think of change. This means changing what people do – arts, politics, education, hospitals, society, economy – into something else. MASSIA is a platform for experimenting, to take risks in your work or ambitions that cover larger needs than only those of your own
  • MAAJAAM is a project space in an old farm in the hillocky southern Estonian landscape, exploring the relations between technology, man and nature through art. Held during the summer season, the residency programme is intended for Estonian and foreign artists dealing with technology. The productions created will remain at MAAJAAM and contribute to the unique environment there. The next project will take place in the summer of 2018. 
  • Pardimäe lokaal involves a house, sauna, studio, fields and forests, and is situated in the Estonian village of Kanguristi on the borders of Lääne-Viru and Ida-Viru counties. This is a place for anyone who is active in modern performing arts, text, visual arts, music, film, literature, new media, modern circus or art production. Parents that need a moment’s break from their kids are also welcome. The residency is open from 1 May to 1 October.
  • Copper Leg Residency is located 18 km from Tallinn city centre, in the village of Vaskjala, in an old school building surrounded by fields. The house was constructed in 1934 and is newly renovated in summer of 2017. The residency is coordinated by the Estonian visual artist Janno Bergmann, who lives permanently at the residency. A mere 15-minute drive away from the capital, the area is very serene and surrounded by beautiful nature which makes it a perfect place to concentrate. The residency operates since 2017, with a support from Rae Municipality. Over 20 artist from all over the world have stayed and worked as residents in Copper Leg during this time for shorter or longer residencies.  Every month, open door days are organised in the residency offering visitors a chance to learn about the resident  artists and their creative work. 
  • KORDONair (artist-in-residence) is a common platform whose goal is to promote art in dialogue with architecture and nature. KORDON explores social and artistic dimensions of space, diversity of culture and wild. The interdisciplinary residency is located in the former tsarist building of border guard station in UNESCO biosphere reserve on the border of Kärdla city, in Hiiumaa island. The mainstay of the residency is to keep the discussion on the relationship between the built environment and nature, to create an international network and to involve islanders.  The residency offers living and working conditions for artists, architects, researchers and other critical thinkers to discover and activate places outside. KORDONair MTÜ is an artist-run-residency founded by the creative team of Vaikla Studio. KORDON is a member of Res Artis.


For information on international residency programmes, please visit the ResArtise website.

In 2011–2012 and 2013–2014, the European Commission’s Open Method of Coordination work groups developed policy handbooks for residencies and EU Member States for promoting the mobility of artists  (PDF)



Maria-Kristiina Soomre
Adviser (Arts)


Last updated: 5 June 2019