This week, the City of Austin announced that it is launching a new nine-month long artist-in-residence program. The program, which was developed through the city’s Idea Accelerator initiative, plans to place selected artists in city departments to “help resolve problems, provide innovative or new process improvements, and engage residents around community issues in creative ways.” The first department to try this out will be Austin’s Watershed Protection Department.
Though at first glance this idea may seem odd, it definitely makes sense—artists have a particular way of seeing the world around them that lets them come into a situation and solve problems in different ways from the average person. Austin isn’t the first city to implement such a program. Other places, such as Boston and Los Angeles, have successfully folded artists into consultant-like governmental roles.
The Watershed Protection Department plans to ask their artist to assist them with community outreach and education. Even better, the project is very much open-ended and can result in either a discrete artwork or a wide range of programs. The residency will run from March to November 2017 and the selected artist will receive a budget of $8,750 with a maximum of $5,000 for residency-related expenses.
Interested artists are encouraged to attend an informational meeting on January 18 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM at the City Hall Boards and Commissions Room at 301 W. 2nd Street. The application deadline is February 16, 2017 at 5PM.
For more information and to apply, please go here.