A round-up of French cultural villas around the world and artists’ residency programmes

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All across the world, France’s villas for artist residencies host artists and researchers who carry out projects there relating to the host country. These artists’ residencies are essential mobility schemes for showcasing French artists, cultural dialogue and for the buoyancy of artistic creation. They embody the historical evolution of our soft power, increasingly aimed towards opening up local regions, work in partnerships and co-construction.

Since the founding of the French Academy in Rome in the 17th century, France has supported artistic and cultural influence by fostering the cultural immersion of its artists within foreign cultures in order to enhance their work. It was with this in mind that the Casa de Velázquez was set up in Madrid in 1920, followed by Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto in 1992, to develop the network.
In July 2021, France inaugurated its fourth villa for artists’ residencies in the United States, Villa Albertine.

These residencies, in addition to the villas themselves, are an important element of France’s cultural promotion and cooperation policy. They also meet current environmental challenges as they are synonymous with long-term mobility and settling in a new region. They are spaces conducive to innovation and transmission. Research, especially in design and craftsmanship, enable new sustainable materials to be created and new fabrication processes to be developed, which can then be applied more widely.

France supports the development of residencies via several schemes.

  • The Institut Français issues a call for applications every year, providing around 70 international artists the opportunity to avail themselves of between three- and six-month residencies at the Cité Internationale des Arts, in the centre of Paris.
  • French and foreign artists can also submit their applications directly to the Cité Internationale des Arts, which organizes committees dedicated to various disciplines (visual arts, music, writing and live entertainment) and topics. Since it was founded in 1965, the Cité Internationale des Arts has hosted artists in residency from around the world. It is a meeting place open to dialogue between cultures, where artists meet their audiences and industry specialists. In partnership with 135 French and international bodies, every month it hosts more than 300 artists from all disciplines, generations and horizons.
  • The “Fabrique des Résidences” (Residency Factory) programme, also led by the Institut Français in Paris, is aimed at the cultural services of French embassies, Instituts Français and Alliances Françaises that wish to start a residency programme. The Residency Factory provides technical and financial support to the cultural network to design and structure an artists’ residency programme in the country it is located in.
    Various locations and programmes for artists’ residencies can therefore emerge all over the world, such as in Saint-Louis, Senegal, with the Villa Ndar, and in Vietnam, with the Villa Saigon.

Villa Albertine, USA

The historic French villas have recently been joined by Villa Albertine, which opened its doors in the USA.

This opening is part of a policy to expand France’s existing artist residencies abroad but thoroughly revamps the concept of artists’ residencies, with a permanent presence in a dozen cities simultaneously and bringing the residents to experience American life fully, and understand the major contemporary issues at play.

Villa Albertine brings together 10 residency venues in 10 key US cities (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C.). It will host around 60 residents a year in all artistic disciplines and offer residencies that are tailored to creatives, researchers and cultural sector professionals.

The call for applications for the second season of Villa Albertine is open until 20 January 2022 and concerns residencies in the 10 villas in the US for the year 2023, for periods varying between one and three months.

More information about Villa Albertine: https://villa-albertine.org/fr

French Academy in Rome – Villa Médicis

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Académie de France à Rome – Villa Médicis

The French Academy in Rome – Villa Médicis, attached to the Ministry of Culture, fosters artistic creation and promotes dialogue between cultures and the arts with three missions:

  • The Colbert Mission hosts artists and researchers in residency ;
  • The Malraux Mission implements a cultural programme that includes all areas of art and creation, providing a real artists’ laboratory between France and Italy, in a spirit of openness to Europe and the world;
  • The Heritage Mission, to conserve, restore and inform the general public of its built and landscape heritage and its collections.

More information about Villa Médicis: https://www.villamedici.it/fr/

The Casa de Velázquez, Madrid

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La Casa de Velázquez, à Madrid

The Casa de Velázquez, inaugurated in 1928 on land granted to France by the Spanish State, is a centre of artistic creation and scientific research. The Casa is unique in that it jointly hosts artists (like the Villa Médicis in Rome) and researchers.

The aim of the Casa de Velázquez is to develop creative activities and research linked to the arts, languages, literature and societies in Iberian, Ibero-American and Maghreb countries.

Another role it plays is the training of artists, researchers and academics, and contributes to the development of artistic and scientific dialogue between France and the countries concerned. It has a well-stocked library of more than 140,000 works and around 1,700 periodical titles, as well as a publications service that publishes some fifteen works and a journal in two volumes.

The Casa de Velázquez hosts around thirty artists a year for residency periods ranging from one month to a year. Calls for applications are usually issued in October/November for residencies the following season.

More information on the Casa de Velázquez: https://www.casadevelazquez.org/

Villa Kujoyama, Kyoto

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Villa Kujoyama, à Kyoto

Villa Kujoyama was designed as a forum for dialogue, and a laboratory of creation and interdisciplinary research, where all types of creators can meet, with the desire to build a project with Japan. It supports some twenty emerging and experienced artists and creatives a year, with residencies of between two and six months, in all areas of creation, from craftsmanship to contemporary art, visual arts, literature, live entertainment, cinema, digital arts and gastronomy.

Villa Kujoyama provides tailored assistance to its resident artists and works to promote their visibility post-residence, in particular by creating partnerships with various institutions in France and Japan. By forging lasting ties between French and Japanese artists and creators, Villa Kujoyama is a particularly important tool in the cultural cooperation scheme that France promotes. It is an exceptional resource that allows French artists and creators to truly integrate the Japanese ecosystem and facilitates the later development of their activities in the country.

The Fondation Bettencourt-Schueller is the main patron of the Villa. The Villa Kujoyama is today a unique institution in the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs’ cultural cooperation network. It is one of the spearheads of the Institut Français’ activity in Japan and an exceptional institution, by virtue of its history and location.

More information about Villa Kujoyama: https://www.villakujoyama.jp/

¡VIVA VILLA! FESTIVAL
Created by the Casa de Velázquez, Villa Kujoyama and the French Academy in Rome – Villa Médicis, the ¡Viva Villa! Festival was born of a shared desire to create regular events with the French public by bringing together the artists hosted throughout the year in the three villas located in Madrid, Kyoto and Rome via an exhibition, film series and live shows. Since its creation in 2016, the festival has maintained its key purpose: providing the audience with a look into young contemporary creation, fostering a transition to life after the residency through meetings with a variety of industry experts, and building a friendly network of artists.

More information on https://www.vivavilla.info/