It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closing of the programme until further notice. COVID-19 and the curfew since March 2020 in Greece have made it impossible to continue the popular programme.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of Sfakiotes Residency Programme that was originally rebuilt into an AIR house for artists in 2010. Looking back at the past decade of running the programme brings back a lot of good memories for us. There have been numerous occasions for artists, curators, producers and filmmakers across the field of the arts to work together or separately during these years, and until recent years the attendance has been as high as 98%. Good public infrastructure has made it possible to maintain possibilities for creatives internationally to come to the island throughout the year – including the nontouristic season.
During the last years we have seen a lot of setbacks, too, and structural changes concerning the field, both arts funding and the island in general. We have stayed firm nevertheless: in November, 2015 a large earthquake shook the house. Due to walls that were originally built earthquake-proof 100 years ago and fortified by the refurbushment of 2010, the residency house remained intact.
However, over the next years air bn’b changed the market drastically. It was no longer financially sustainable to run an artist residency that concentrates on giving artists affordable housing, especially as both large and small subsidies in the field were targeted mainly at companies and free artists. The cultural policy and funding of residency programmes in Finland moved fast into supporting production residencies. The mission of the residency programme was to support artists and curators at various times during their lifetime and give a possibility for working outside their daily routines and haste to concentrate in their work solely, that does not mean a deadline to meet or an end-product to serve the gallery or museum scene, not only during the peak of their careers.
Statistically only a few percent of the artists receive grants and are therefore able to maintain a sustainable career throughout their lives. The funding accumulates. To maintain creativity, the professionals also need a break from the every-day routines and bureaucracy. We wanted to give this break, yet with a conscious decision of not having a larger organization, a company or a foundation behind to minimize this very same problematics in our own lives, both leading careers outside the residency programme and, since this spring, as a family of three.
As funding in the field is scarce, it has made it impossible to continue the programme in the long run. Especially with the now ongoing circumstances with COVID-19.
We look forward to a bright future and wish all the artists, curators and producers the same as we for now say thank you. So many great winning artworks, exhibition ideas, books, screenplays and performances in theatre, visual arts, film, literature and opera have been planned, executed and performed here across the field internationally and during these amazing ten years that have given us so much. So many good and fruitful connections have been made, walks in the breathtaking views of Lefkada island and swims in the clear turquoise waters and amazing mediterranean food eaten and local feral animals helped while working.
We wish to give our big thank you to the locals in the village, everyone who supported or visited the programme during this decade of great change, and hope to see you again and follow all of your endeavours in some form in the future.
Thinking of all of you with ????
The Residency Team