The Well-Being Residency Network

The Well-Being Residency Network

Photo by Undīne Celitāne, courtesy of The Well-Being Residency Network


The Well-Being Residency Network is based on an inspired concept embedding artistic residencies into the context of closed types of social or medical care institutions. Its success highlights the active international and local collaboration it has engendered as well as its interactive and participatory approach. 

Began in 2018, this ongoing international capacity building project investigates the practices of well-being residencies in Finland, Russia, Latvia, and Sweden. The Network worked with its partners to create:

  1. individualized toolsets for each partner organization, and 
  2. a general methodology for a well-being residency practice. 

Artists and art organizations were brought together with social and health care professionals across the partner countries. The artists come from the contemporary art scene of dance, performance and circus. Residency try-outs were carried out to test, adjust, and perfect the toolsets, also to assess the methodology. These are documented in a forthcoming publication. (Insert link when available.) 

During the first project, 2018-2020, think tanks and seminars were organized in order to develop the individualized tool-sets. In Latvia, Sweden, Finland, and Russian the partners worked with institutions such as prisons, hospitals, palliative care and retirement homes. A participatory approach was adopted to develop artistic projects alongside the residents. 


The Well-Being Residency Network

Photo by Undīne Celitāne, courtesy of The Well-Being Residency Network


Not even the ‘socially distanced’ way we now have to experience culture and everyday life in 2020 has stopped our partners continuing their practice! 

In Latvia artist Vita Malahova, for example, working within the framework of Sansusī Well-being residency program has co-created artworks with the clients using phones in the research phase. Voice reproducing devices were then utilized to offer ‘individual’ experiences of the piece, with the resident placed in the position of an actor/performer in a one hour-long performance, itself inspired by the stories of those people.

A residency on average takes place over one month, with the preparation process taking up to six months. The impact of each well-being residency on everybody in each of the respective institutions is significant. And this goes further, reaching the wider community of relatives and friends. Most importantly, it nourishes the feeling of representation and inclusion of arts for people usually deprived of this privilege. It also increases the visibility of people living in closed-type institutions and their challenges to artists, the wider community and society in general. 

Currently these practices are run on project-based funding depending on each country. 

The first phase of the Network (2018-2020) was funded by CBSS Project Support Facility and Nordic-Baltic mobility.

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