In the past, I have written about artist nonprofit spaces across cities around the world. Often in these art hubs there is a concentration of high quality nonprofits supporting artists in every capacity of their careers. Occasionally, a nonprofit is so sweeping in its offerings that a blurb amongst others simply won’t do. Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is one such place. Situated in Banff, North West of Calgary, Alberta Canada, Banff Centre cannot be done justice in a paragraph. This giant among nonprofits reaches its tendrils into every imaginable corner of the arts, encompassing all disciplines under the arts umbrella. Set into an unparalleled landscape, Banff’s physical space is an inspiration to even the most stolid-hearted.
Banff Centre is known for many things, but some of the most exciting are their innumerable residency opportunities. Banff operates a rotating plethora of residencies open to countless disciplines. Here are just a few.
Curator in Residence offers mid-career curators the opportunity to spend six months immersed in the field among artists in residence and others with whom they can collaborate to produce a show for exhibition outside the Banff facility. Residencies allow participants access to a host of resources from the basics like time and space in which to work, to think-tanks and symposia.
Indigenous Studio Practice is a truly unique opportunity open to visual artists of indigenous descent. Participants will be selected to join residencies in digital media, printmaking, sculpture, and ceramics—depending on participation and artist disciplines, residents can work in one or multiple fields. The sculpture residency relies heavily on woodworking and applicants should have a base knowledge of the medium. More information is available at the Banff website including links to many more programs for indigenous artists.
Preparatorial Practicum is geared toward those with a studio background who are interested in careers in gallery installation. Residents work in the Walter Phillips Gallery alongside curators and preparators, learning the intricacies of environmental conditions, conservation techniques, art handling and crating, and much more.
Arts Writer in Residence allows time and space for mid-career arts writers to develop their craft. Focus is on curatorial and critical writing, and the residency allows for research and collaboration with other artists in residence. Participants will benefit from structured programs and mentorship intermixed with the ability to work on their own.
The Aesthetic Advantage is a short-term program that gives participants a heightened awareness of aesthetics as related to all aspects of the art business. The program is designed to teach participants how to “distinguish the good from the profitable.” Artists from all career points and sectors are encouraged to apply, though the program is best suited to mid-career artists in need of fresh perspective in a rapidly changing aesthetic landscape.
Adventure Filmmakers’ Workshop gives emerging filmmakers the chance to work with industry greats in the context of one of the best known film festivals of the genre. Banff Film & Book Festival is world-renowned and this nine day workshop allows participants to be at the center of it all as they work toward completing their own projects. The workshop brings in two of the adventure film industry’s top names and allows residents access to film festival events for a truly inspiring experience.
Mountain Photography Residency, facilitated by National Geographic photographer Cory Richards, allows participants to develop the ability to create compelling narrative through photographic images. The residency focuses on mountain-themed work set among one of the most pristine and remarkable mountain ranges in North America. Photographers from every career stage are encouraged to apply.
Sculpture Studio Practicum is geared toward recent graduates of a studio program. Participants are encouraged to have woodworking experience and there is a list of disciplines from which participants must be familiar with two in order to qualify for the residency. The practicum offers the chance to hone technical and conceptual skills and gain exposure to a wide variety of sculptural media.
This is nowhere near an exhaustive list of the programs and residencies at Banff. There are more opportunities that it would be possible to write about in a lifetime and they are always evolving and changing with the kinetic landscape of the arts. Banff is a gem in every sense, an institution solely devoted to furthering arts and culture across the broadest spectrum imaginable. Banff recognizes the needs of special populations and makes an effort to ensure that equal opportunity exists for all.
If a residency isn’t right for you just now, simply visiting Banff could be the burst of light you’ve been looking for. The Center has a nonstop calendar of events throughout the year, highlighted by international festivals and punctuated with a rotating roster of some of the biggest names in the arts sharing the wisdom of their careers through talks, symposiums, performances, and more. Its location in the Canadian Rockies makes Banff a true destination and the breadth of disciplines make it a non-expendable asset within the art world.