In past centuries, fortunate artists found patrons in the aristocracy or the church who would support their work. In the 20th century, art institutions and foundations stepped into this role with residency programs funded either by wealthy donors or by public donations. More recently, a new variety of artist-in-residence program has emerged, this time sponsored by big companies.
The software company Autodesk invites artists to spend up to six months working in their facilities, giving them a stipend and funds for their materials and using their work to support development. Amtrak gives writers-in-residence a free ride on their trains without any contractual obligation. In contrast, Facebook has its own quasi-secret artist-in-residence program which pays to create – and own – artwork that adorn the walls of its buildings.
Elizabeth Segran describes these evolving opportunities for artists, with a hovering question around what is really motivating companies to do this and what they expect in return for their sponsorship. Welcome to the brave new world of the corporate-sponsored artist…
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[Image from the Salmon Skin LED light project]