Outcomes of the Creative Residency for Sustainability Pilot
As a part of the project “Creative Cross-Innovations for Sustainability” a new cross-innovative methodology was developed, piloted and evaluated. The “Creative Residency for Sustainability” is an adaptation of an artistic residency in the context of non-CCS (Culture & Creative Sector) organisation with the overall aim for cross-disciplinary exchange around the topic of sustainability.
The pilot, conducted during a 7-week residency in Norrbotten (Sweden) in spring 2023, is the focus of this article. It showcases the results, values generated, and reflections on the residency’s questions and perspectives elaborated in the various discussions within the pilot parties as well as between the artist and the students of the Tromsø Art Academy (Norway).
Aims of the Residency
The mission of the residency pilot was to explore cross-disciplinary dialogues between artists and professionals from various sectors.
Moreover, the objectives of the pilot was:
- To conceptualise the value of artistic practice as a source of dialogue and insight around the topic of sustainability;
- To add understanding of the role of the art hall as an intermediary and enabler of artistic crossovers.
In summary, the pilot aimed to identify the added value of artistic practice in a foreign work context and its connection to sustainability. It also focused on understanding the roles of key actors in the cross-disciplinary methodology. The goal was to use the knowledge gained to develop and showcase the residency methodology for future inspiration and reuse.
Download the summary-poster developed during the project & print it to inspire and get inspired for creative cross-innovations for sustainability!
File for digital use: here.
Printable file: here.
The Residency Methodology and Intermediary Approach
The methodology development started from the premise, that artistic encounters can have value in company contexts for the different involved parties. This methodology was set to explore how a process model can establish space for artistic freedom and open endedness in the expected results. The topic of sustainability was intended to serve as a common ground for the exchange, yet the artist had the choice to interpret its meaning in a free manner. Another key factor to acknowledge is that the project funding covered all costs of the residency, meaning that the residency host organisation did not have expectations for “return on financial investment”, yet their investment was the time and effort put into the pilot and its evaluation.
Explore the 5 steps of Residency for Sustainability:
It is important to emphasise the process start with the intermediary work designing the process framework, steps and expectations for the artist and the host organisation. This work was done by the intermediary (Art hall Havremagasinet with support of NDPC). The intermediary started the matchmaking process by elaborating the criteria of a suitable artist for the work, as well as preferred qualities of the residency host company.
This curation phase acknowledged the need for an artist that:
a) is from the region,
b) has strong professionalism,
c)experience in adapting artistic work to requirements set from the outside,
d) social skills,
e) interest to work with topic of sustainability.
The residency host organisation needed to be:
a) an important company in the Boden area with influence on the community,
b) acknowledged emphasis on sustainability issues,
c) curiosity and readiness to step into an artistic dialogue.
The intermediary served as a “bridge builder” through out the process supporting both the artist and the company in the residency journey.
Evaluation of the Residency and its Value
The chapter offers insights into participants’ opinions within the residency pilot and the resulting diverse values obtained through an evaluation process.
The evaluation made use of :
a) online survey for the three pilot parties (artist, company, intermediary),
b) followed by online interviews for the three parties,
c) a brief evaluation survey for the business community of Boden Business Park (initiated and produced by the artist),
d) a recording of an open onsite discussion with the three parties and small audience, taking place during the presentation of the pilot in Boden in September 2023.
Boden Pilot Evaluation
Download the file here.
For the intermediary art hall Havremagasinet the project illuminated its relevance through the discovery of the residency host organisation Boden Business Park as a possible collaborator and counterparty. Detecting this kind of collaborative partner brought benefits to both organisations and enabled the organisations to come into dialogue and open up towards each other. This is one key discovery of value created through the pilot, one that hold a lot of potentials for the future as well. Mariangela Mendez Prencke states that “I think the pilot was a success because it proved, at least in this occasion, that the exchange can happen, it can create synergies, and mobilise other sort of ideas that might have a long term impact in society.”
The role of the intermediary was highly recognised by all three parties as one key element enabling cross-disciplinary encounters. The art hall serving as the intermediary is one key discovery of value with high future potentials. The art hall has the means to support the artistic work in a context that can be highly demanding to navigate. The art hall does not only have the chance to empower the artist journey and create spaces of reflection, but also support the very practical dimension of the artistic work, and this way create means and possibilities for art to take place and happen in the company environment.
For the artist Pilar de Burgos, the residency period was fruitful, yet a challenging set-up with contradictions and friction. Since the expectations of outcomes for the residency were very open this also meant that the artist created the expectations of results independently. In contradiction to this freedom, the Boden Business Park everyday work environment was with high pace which brought limitations to the exchange and what could be possible within the residency. So the artistic process was very demanding, yet it did positive findings for various ways to come into dialogue, also by showcasing artworks related to sustainability. This unusual position of the artist “on a foreign land” fostered into positive affirmations and realization of the artistic professional identity and “the mirror” became one with high value and also lot of for further explorations.
For the company Boden Business Park (BBP) and its community the artist residency created spaces of reflection, new perspectives and positive disruptions to the every-day-work-flow. These acknowledgements are an interesting finding of art bringing a change in rhythm to the hectic workday and enables moments to shift the perspective. A basis for positive result were created through a welcoming attitude by the CEO and active and caring approach of the BBP Business Developer serving as the key-person hosting the residency. Stina Mattson states in her feedback that “(the residency brought) Great value with new perspectives, a reminder to sometimes stop and reflect instead of always running to next meeting or task on your working list. Eyeopener to art, easy access to people that usually not “consume” art.” It is evident that the residency had a strong pedagogic value, serving as an access point to contemporary art and raising awareness of how art matters.
BBP rated that cross-disciplinary exchange is of high relevance to them also in the future. According to Thomas Fägerman “Pilots like these need to be fostered, to better reflect on the future of the company and territory in general, and avoid the mistakes of the past, especially in relation to the development of sustainable practices.”
Browse through the gallery:
Perspectives from the Art Students
In October 2023, NDPC and the Pilar de Burgos presented the pilot in a hybrid format to students of professors, Lisa Torell (Professor in Contemporary Art, Tromsø Academy of Arts) and Maria Huhmarniemi (Associate professor of the Faculty of Art and Design at Lapland University). One topic of discussion concerned the importance of the theme of sustainability for the pilot project. Students stated that the theme could have been more central in the interaction between the parties and the intermediaries. The discussion moved towards the relational aspect of the residency, and the concern on how to navigate unfamiliar codes of conduct and remain faithful to their own principles and values. The students finally wondered whether the quality of the cooperation could have been affected by the introduction of pre-existing pieces, in comparison to the possibilities of creation of a new piece during the residency.
In conclusion, the pilot experience was judged overall positively, and brought added value to its participants with possibilities for long-lasting positive effects due to added professional capacities and networks. To recap, the art hall and company positively developed their organisational capacities to work in exploratory cross-disciplinary manners, and the artist her skills to establish a “niche avenue” demonstrating the relevance of art in a company everyday work life, as well in creating artistic spaces of reflection for the topic of sustainability. The pilot residency sparked curiosity and inspiration among the audiences present at its presentations.
Future developments of the practice are needed, to better understand the multiple values and potentials that this methodology for cross-disciplinary encounters holds. As cross-innovative collaborations rises in numbers and features, more information need to be retrieved regarding the adoptable practices for the artist, the bridge building institution and the company to maximise the positive outcome of the exchange.
Funder, Partners and Contributors
Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC) acted as the project lead and pilot initiator in collaboration with the project partners Havremagasinet (Sweden), Tromsø Art Academy (Norway) and BusinessOulu (Finland). The project was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland with the support of Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland.
The project was led by Krista Petäjäjärvi, Acting Head of the NDPC. The art hall Havremagasinet director Mariangela Méndez Prencke, served as an intermediary of the pilot residency which involved the visual artist Pilar de Burgos and the workers and facilities of Boden Business Park, represented by Stina Mattson (Business Developer) and Thomas Fägerman (CEO). Tromsø Art Academy Professor in Contemporary Art Lisa Torell engaged in the project developments and hosted the student discussions. Petri Sirviö, Account lead for Creative Industries in Business Oulu supported the development and evaluation. The project partners developed the residency approach and methodology, the evaluation of the pilot and its analyses, and finally the sharing of the outcomes of the findings in various digital formats included in this article.