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"Artists are free to devise new work, to experiment... or simply to think"

Creative Lab residencies in CCA began in 2003. They were sporadic at first but gradually settled into a regular pattern of twelve monthly residencies each year.

Early residencies were in the space now dedicated to Intermedia gallery and they were only programmed in when that room was not in use for larger CCA exhibitions. It was clear though that demand for a residency space – even such a basic room – was outstripping available opportunities. In 2006, a large office on the first floor was emptied and became the new home of the Creative Lab, offering a more consistent programme across the whole year.

Since then, the Lab residencies have always been selected through an open submission process. Research is our priority in the selection of applications and there is no demand for a tangible outcome. Equally, the residencies are not linked to exhibitions and are not geared towards the exhibition of finished pieces in that space. Artists are free to devise new work, to experiment, to collaborate with others in areas outside their usual practice or simply to think, in a space distanced from everyday work or social constraints. There is an opportunity to open the doors to the public at the end of a residency and discuss the month’s activity or for a sharing in dance or performance residencies. Artists often use the room for screenings, workshops and critiques throughout the residency, and CCA provide marketing and technical support for these events. Artists can also use CCA’s equipment, including our dance floor, projectors, sound kit and lights to experiment and research on their own. CCA staff also offer feedback on work at times when invited to do that and, more generally, there is an immense benefit to the regular presence of artists in the building, reminding us why we are actually here.

Every year the demand for the Creative Lab residencies grows, perhaps reflecting artists’ need for an unpressured space to think and experiment. An important facet of the Creative Lab is that it fosters a meaningful and long-lasting relationship between CCA and a new set of artists, often resulting in future collaborations and further, ongoing support. The month-long residencies allow the CCA programmers to be part of the development process, allowing for time to explore the artists’ research without exerting curatorial demands. Through our discussions we can more fully understand and support the process of making the work without giving a deadline to produce it. These encounters are often followed up in later months and years. In recent months, artists such as Kathryn Elkin, Grace Shwindt, Catherine Street, Julia Scott, Mother Tongue, Jer Reid and Rob Churm have all had events, support or opportunities following residencies in the space. We will continue to work with all of our Creative Lab alumni to create introductions to other groups and artists, and feed their research in to other activities taking place in the building.

One of the lesser-known spaces in the CCA is our artist’s flat on the third floor overlooking Scott Street. It’s a small space but it’s an invaluable asset as it allows us the flexibility to host residencies with minimal accommodation costs. In relation to the Creative Lab, it is used by residents coming from further afield. At other times, it hosts separate longer-term residencies, such as the High North exchange programme or our long-standing artist exchange with Quebec. This space means that artists who are strangers to the city have a friendly, welcoming base, facilitating a wider exchange with the building users, staff and cultural tenants.

The call out for applications for our 2018/19 Creative Lab residencies is open until 6pm, Monday 11 December. For more information on how to apply, please see our call-outs and residencies page.

Selected artists will be announced in January 2018.

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Editorial first published in July - August 2015 CCA Brochure.