8 International Artist Residencies that Welcome Travel Writers

As a travel writer, I love to write on the road, but this is often easier said than done. Finding peace and quiet to write is difficult, especially when staying at hostels. Whenever I switch on my computer or take out my journal, other travelers are busy cooking, making travel plans, and blasting music. I often leave the hostel grounds for a nearby café or a park. But even then, I find that I’m easily distracted.

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Inspired by Stephanie Elizondo Griest, I was thrilled to learn that travel writers, too, could participate in artist residencies. Also known as colonies or retreats, residencies offer authors the chance to write in peace.

Katie Hammel’s article and Julie Schwietert’s piece on Matador enlightened me on ten North American residencies, and left me searching for options worldwide.

Here are eight international residencies that welcome travel writers:

#1: The Rockefeller Foundation – Bellagio Center (Bellagio, Italy)

Menaggio, Lake Como, Italy © marco|g

As its mission statement affirms, The Bellagio Center has been supporting scholars, artists, thought leaders, policymakers and practitioners who “promote the well-being of humanity” since 1959. By doing so, the center has acquired a long legacy of making a difference, and only accepts the best of the best.

Nevertheless, it’s worth soliciting a spot. If accepted, you will not only enjoy the serene work environment on the shore of Lake Como, but also be surrounded by diverse, inspiring artists who all seek to foster positive change. All residents and their spouses/partners, if applicable, receive free room and board, with high-speed Internet and access to a small library. The Foundation has a limited travel assistance program, and most participants are responsible for getting to and from Bellagio on their own.

Application requirements vary depending on whether you solicit as a scholar, creative artist, or practitioner. Unless you plan on combining your written craft with visuals or photography, travel writing will usually fall into the “scholar” category, which accepts stays for four weeks.

The application process is now open for possible scholarly residencies between February 16 and August 8, 2012. The deadline for applying is May 2, 2011. There is no fee to apply and you will need to submit the online form, a project proposal, abbreviated CV, work samples, and three references.

#2: The American Academy in Berlin (Berlin, Germany)

© Oliver Hammond

The American Academy in Berlin is a private, non-profit center for German-American cultural exchange. It invites about two dozen fellows annually to the Hans Arnold Center – a villa at Lake Wannsee. The fellowship program is open to poets, fiction writers and creative non-fiction writers who are based permanently in the US (though US citizenship is not required, American expatriates are not eligible).

Applications are accepted once a year for fellowships ranging from five to ten months. Detailed information about this year’s cycle will be posted here in June 2011 and will be due in October 2011. The application form should be submitted together with five copies of the following: project proposal (5-7 pages), CV and supporting materials (two recent and representative chapters or articles from published or forthcoming work).

Though it is advantageous to explain how a residency in Berlin would benefit the project, this is not a deciding factor. If accepted, residents are provided with airfare, housing, some meals, and a $5,000 USD monthly stipend.

#3: M Literary Residency (China or India)

The M Literary Residency seeks to broaden knowledge about contemporary life and writing in China and India. Poets, fiction writers or creative non-fiction writers can apply for a three-month residency in Shanghai, China, or Bangalore, India.

There is no fee to apply and you will need to submit the application form, a statement of purpose, two writing samples, as well as contact information for two references.

If accepted, residents receive transportation, accommodation, a $1,000 stipend, and are required to participate in two community events. Applications for the 2012 residency are due on July 1, 2011, and decisions will be announced on October 31, 2011.

#4: Brown Foundation Fellows Residency Program (Ménerbes, France)

Ménerbes © Allie_Caulfield

Dora Maar was a muse and lover of Picasso and her former residence now serves as a retreat for writers and artists. The house is situated in southern France and was owned by Maar until her death in 1997. In 2006, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston was asked to direct the Brown Foundation Fellows Residency Program here.

Mid-career poets, fiction writers and creative non-fiction writers are invited to apply for residencies of one to three months. Successful applicants receive travel expenses, lodging, workspace, and a $50/day stipend. In return, residents are obliged to participate in one community event.

There are two application cycles per year and decisions are made within six weeks of the deadline. This year, you can still submit an application by October 15, 2011 for fellowships beginning February 1 or after, and ending no later than June 30, 2012. To apply, you’ll need two work samples (max. 20 pages each), a CV, project description, proposal for community event, and two letters of recommendation. The application form and guidelines are available online.

#5: Instituto Sacatar (Bahia, Brazil)

Brazil Beach at Sunset © sebi ryffel

Founded in 2000, the Instituto Sacatar is a non-profit corporation that runs artist residency programs on Itaparica island across the bay from Salvador, Bahia. Residencies are held at a secluded seaside estate with a large courtyard enveloped by coconut palms and pitanga berry bushes.

Sacatar Fellowships offer reimbursement for roundtrip airfare, a private bedroom with bathroom, a separate studio, and all meals (except Saturday nights, Sundays, and holidays). Additional expenses, such as transportation in and around the island, are to be covered by the resident.

Applications are for eight-week residencies, during which artists can work independently or with local and/or regional organizations. There is a $35 fee to apply. You’ll need to submit the application form, a resume, work samples, two letters of recommendation and a description of your project, your reasons for coming to Bahia and your work needs.

Additional studios are being constructed and the next deadline for applying will be announced here.

#6: Polli Talu Arts Center (Rame Küla, Estonia)

In addition to composers, visual and performing artists, the Polli Talu Arts Center accepts applications from writers. Polli Talu means “Polly’s Farm,” and the residency is a traditional Estonian farm complex. Located near the Baltic Sea, it includes five log buildings with thatched roofs made from locally harvested reeds.

The writer’s studio is situated in a new thatched log building with a fireplace. If necessary, the artist is responsible for stocking the latter with wood for heating. Toilet, shower, and sauna are shared with other participants, but the writer has his/her own worktable, two chairs, lights, CD player and radio. €35 per day/person covers studio, housing and meals, primarily vegetarian using vegetables from Polli Talu’s organic garden.

In short, an application involves an informal cover letter, resume, and one to three work samples (max. three pages). You may submit one optional page of relevant information.

#7: Culture House Babayan (Cappadocia, Central Anatolia, Turkey)

Ballooning Over Cappadocia, Turkey © Javier Martin Espartosa

A Dutch non-profit Foundation, the Culture House Babayan has Dutch management on-site collaborating with Turkish professionals. Organized by artists for artists, it seeks to build bridges between East and West. The residency itself is a restored village farmhouse, ideal for walks in nature. The Culture House Babayan prides itself on professional, community-based art residencies, and offers a range of events and workshops for artists to participate in.

Nineteen artists have already been accepted for 2011, but the center is still accepting applications. To apply, submit an application form, resume and five work samples.

If accepted, Babayan Culture House offers discounts on food, accommodation and studio facilities. Assistance/intermediation, Internet, heating, stage use, working tools like grinder or electric cables, and access to cultural events are provided for free.

For 2011, a minimum stay of 4 weeks is priced at €670 per person in a studio apartment. If two accepted residency artists stay in a shared apartment, the second artist pays half price.

#8: Youkobo Art Space (Tokyo, Japan)

© Guwashi999

A former sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, Youkobo Art Space currently accepts five artists in residence at a time, and moreover rents out its gallery space. The center prides itself on developing creative activities based in the local community, so you can expect to work alongside Japanese artists.

Unfortunately, there is currently no financial support for artists. Rates start at 120,000 yen/month (ca. $1400 USD) for residency and studio use, in addition to 27,000 yen/month (ca. $320 USD) for utilities.

There is no application fee and you can submit the application form, a CV, evidence of artistic activity, and a proposal for your stay via e-mail.

More Useful Information

ResArtis: Click the advanced search option and specify “Literature” in the “Discipline/Media” category to find places that are open to hosting writers. Travel photographers can select “New Media” or “Film Making.”



Good luck!

  1. cool list. I just set up a writing residency at Sustainable Bolivia. It’s generally an artist’s residency but they were happy to adapt it a bit and take me on. Can’t wait!

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  3. Allow me to add another to this list, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA there is a residency for writers in all genres during the months of September, October and April.

  4. Hello I am a writer and poet Congolese Brazzaville. I am waiting for my book titled “How to write a book” published EDILIVRE DE FRANCE, which is my sixth book which both published in the U.S., one in FRANCE, a in CANADA and GERMANY.
    Now I have a project finalization of my book “How to Write an Essay” and publishing research for the publication of the first book in English by an editor .I am an author requests a residence to me achieve at the same time these two objectives.
    I write to get an idea of the conditions for admission to you and also I am willing to provide all documents related to my career and even my marriage documents if you want. Cordially.

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