May 2-5, 2012

This Regional Meeting focused on ‘Residencies: Gates and Bridges’ and is hosted by KulturKontakt in Vienna. A capital that is considered to belong to West Europe but historically is one of the focal points of Central Eastern Europe (CEE). Since the iron curtain between West and East Europe vanished, Vienna became the economic gate to CEE and the entry point to a world that was previously more or less inaccessible for West Europe.

This conference invited everyone working in the AiR field desiring to learn about latest practices and to network with a large variety of initiatives, while it addresses particularly (emerging) residency initiatives in South East Europe. It offered presentations of these agents’ experiences and an opportunity for exchange among each other and with AiRs from other parts of Europe, and beyond.

The conference was hosted by KulturKontakt Austria


Following the registration, the ResSupport workshop kicked off the conference in the afternoon of May 2. It guided representatives of emerging organisations through the Dos and Don’ts of setting up an AiR, and cover all practical aspects.

The working frame of ‘Gates and Bridges’ is further divided into two topics, each delineating a day’s focus:  ‘AiRs and Communities’ was the focus of May 3rd, and ‘AiRs, disciplines and interdisciplinarity’ on May 4th.

More and more emerging initiatives choose to start up outside of city centres, where the costs are lower and the relationship with the local community more intimate; many AiR organisers engage in diverse knowledge transfer to the communities, support the exchange of practices between artists and local inhabitants, and co-create social structures. How effective is their work, and what are their goals?

With the other focus, this Regional Meeting wants to pay tribute to the fact that AiRs for disciplines like dance, writing, performance, and music are on the rise, but are often more difficult to sustain due to the needs of the artists with regard to training space, soundproof locations, as well as funding. What are best practices in the field? How can they build productive alliances with other disciplines?

Every day a key speaker contributed specific, and cutting-edge insights for the topic, and both days will contain presentations by AiR organisers, as well as comprehensive Open Space sessions for critical discussions (Open Space: every participant has the chance to present to the plenum a topic for discussion; participants join the topic owners to form groups that discuss the suggested topic; all groups present their results in plenum). The evening programme promises included a slide show about Austrian AiR programmes, a reading from a novel inspired by residency experiences, and, last but not least, a dive into a Heuriger under local guidance. On day four of the conference, the attendants had the opportunity to participate in a round trip from Vienna to Bratislava where they visited residency initiatives. They also traveled by hover craft boat on the Danube river.


Gates and Bridges: A residency always anticipates a friend.

A certain criticality was expressed about ‘mobility’ being used as an economical strategy by political bodies. There was also a compelling discourse about terms like home, indigenous vs. nomadic, and the power of residencies for social change. The various Q&A sessions, together with the well-attended ResSupport Workshop, and the final panel gave us valid pointers on how to continue and restructure our work in Eastern Europe, and beyond.

We are very thankful for everything we learned during these three days from our members and the general audience, and highly value their willingness to share their concerns and their visions with us.


On Friday we came together in the premises of Kunstforum Strabag.

Marijana Cvetkovic, Serbia, about the NOMAD dance network.

Hana Stojic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, from the Writers-in-Residence Programs in Sarajevo, Split and Pristina.

Georgy Nikich presented the Nikola-Lenivets Park Project outside of Moscow.