Residency FAQ

Potential applicants often have a wide variety of questions about Santa Fe Art Institute’s residency program. Here we have listed many of the frequently asked questions and answers. If you seek further information, please contact our Residency Program Manager at



Why does SFAI focus on themes?
SFAI implements yearlong thematic programming to support creative innovation that addresses pertinent questions facing diverse regional and global communities in an effort to promote positive social change. We recognize that complex problems require interdisciplinary solutions and believe in the role creativity plays in public education and social innovation. The theme and the basic questions we pose around it are intended to be catalysts for critical thinking and provide a structure around which the diverse peoples and disciplines involved in the residency can foster mutual understanding, have synergistic conversations, and potentially collaborate  on a common goal.

How long does the theme last?
Each thematic residency lasts for 11 months and spans two calendar years, from September through August of the following year. What many people do not realize is that SFAI continues working with the same theme for another year following the actual residency. During this time, we reflect back on and synthesize the incredible year’s-worth of work done around the theme by our residents and institutional partners in the form of a collaborative community project implemented in Santa Fe/Northern New Mexico. We also gather this information and share it  in a curated print/online publication featuring the particular issues tackled by our residents and the creative  ways in which they addressed them.

How long are residencies?
Individual and collaborative (i.e., two-person) residencies vary in duration from one month to three months. We have found that two and three month-long residencies result in greater impact for residents, especially those starting new projects and/or working closely with local community partners. SFAI also hosts up to four large collectives of 10 or more members for one and two week periods during select months within the thematic residency year. All collectives must apply for and be accepted into the thematic residency program. Because of the differing duration and overlaps, residents are exposed to diverse groups and create unique connections from month to month.

My current work does not relate to the theme. Can I still apply?
Yes, definitely! If you feel compelled, inspired, or have an idea that relates to the theme, you are encouraged to apply. A residency at SFAI is a great opportunity to explore new territory, find new focus, and engage other creative people with similar interests, but who often employ different techniques for pursuing them.

I am not a visual artist. Can I still apply?
Yes, most definitely! SFAI is open to all artistic disciplines (visual arts, writing, performance, new media, etc.) and we actively seek applications from other creative practices including, but not limited to, curation, design, architecture, education, humanities, social sciences, law, medicine, and science. We strongly encourage applicants with interdisciplinary and non-traditional creative practices.  While we do not have specific facilities for each of these diverse practices, we can help you find the right situation to make your residency at SFAI productive and meaningful.

What do you mean by “community interaction?”
Some residents wish to instruct and mentor local students, others to create public programs that SFAI hosts, while still others dedicate their time to laying the foundation for new projects based on the research and resources that they encounter while in Santa Fe. All of these approaches amount to “community interaction.” Residents are introduced to our established community partners based on the current theme, the scope of their projects, and identified needs within our region. We strongly encourage residents to do their own research and identify potential community partners in their applications, at the time of scheduling their residency, or at least 1-2 months prior to their arrival. We advise this because, in our experience, establishing trust, understanding, and the capacity to work in collaboration with community partners takes time and thoughtful planning.

What local partnerships or resources are available to residents?
SFAI maintains many local and regional partnerships to help cultivate a meaningful experience for residents and to provide the local community with access to our innovative programming and talented artists. Some partnerships are based in the current theme, some are advocacy and educational partners, and others are based in the artistic and museum/gallery community. SFAI recommends that, if you plan to conduct local outreach as part of your work during your residency, please contact the Residency Program Manager before your arrival.

Due to the generosity of the local community, SFAI is pleased to offer residents discounted entry to many local museums, exhibits, and theaters. The Residency Program Manager will provide more information about these resources during your orientation.

I am part of a collective. Can we apply?
SFAI is unique in that we encourage collaborations (2 people) and collectives to apply! We define collectives as 3 or more people. You only need to choose a lead point of contact and fill out a single application. Studio space will be considered based on the scale of the group and their needs. Small collectives of 3-6 members often can be scheduled throughout the residency year. Large collectives of 10 or more are only hosted for one and two week periods only during select months.

What is the Family Residency Initiative? How do I apply?
Our Family Residency Initiative is a single month (July) set aside within the thematic residency year, that provides living and working space for parent-artists and allows them to bring their spouses/partners and children with them.  All parent-artists interested in attending the Family Residency must apply for and be accepted into the thematic residency program. SFAI also offers each parent-artist an additional room for their children at no extra cost. And with the generous support of grants from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, SFAI has provided free and/or discounted child care, family-friendly field trips, and creative activities structured specifically for the children of parent artists-in-residence. The support we offer during each Family Residency varies annually and is determined in collaboration with the parent-artists based on their needs and their children’s’ ages and interests. For more information, visit the Family Residency Initiative Page.



Does SFAI provide food? Do I have to cook?
SFAI provides basic breakfast foods for residents to share. These include: eggs, bread, cereal, oatmeal, jelly/jam, peanut butter, coffee, and tea, as well as olive oil and spices. Residents provide their own supplemental food and are responsible for preparing their own meals.

Does SFAI offer stipends? Travel support? Materials? Production budgets?
At this time, SFAI does not offer funding beyond our sponsored international thematic residency. This means that our $4,000 per month, per resident cost is fully subsidized at no expense to residents, but we do not provide financial aid in the form of stipends, travel expenses, or materials budgets.
There are specific Fellowships hosted at SFAI that are made possible through the generous support of various national and international organizations, such as, the Ford Foundation, HARPO Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Taiwan Ministry of Culture, and Greece Fulbright Commission. Please visit our Fellowship Page for a list of these opportunities, eligibility, application procedures, and deadlines.



How do you select residents?
The competitive selection process for our residency program at SFAI is primarily based on the applicant’s ability to creatively and critically engage with the annual residency theme, or the particular requirements of each fellowship for which they are applying.

The selection criteria for our international thematic residency program also focus on: the applicant’s personal and professional merit, including the applicant’s experience and the quality of their past work; the applicant’s capacity to grow through risk-taking new work and their ability to sustain a productive practice in a semi-structured environment; the applicant’s potential for professional development through access to a sponsored residency; and the creative excellence of the application along with the potential for the applicant’s proposed project to engage community and effect tangible, positive social change.

The selection criteria and process for the Fellowships hosted at SFAI are typically established and administered by the foundations who sponsor them. Please refer to our Fellowship Page for links to these organizations’ websites.

Who are the jurors? Will they give me feedback on my application?
The selection committee changes each year and is comprised of esteemed artists, content experts, educators, community stakeholders and other creative professionals from Santa Fe and around the world, as well as SFAI’s diverse board and staff members. Jurors are invited to the selection committee on the basis of their experience, connection to the thematic content, and excellence in thought leadership. They are each given a stipend for their participation which comes from the application fees. Jurors are not able to provide feedback on applications.

The selection criteria and process for the Fellowships hosted at SFAI are typically established and administered by the foundations who sponsor them. Please refer to our Fellowship Page for links to these organizations’ websites.



What kinds of public events happen at SFAI?
SFAI is a very vibrant place. Typically we host at least one public event per month. In conjunction with these events, we host open studios so that the public can meet residents, see their work first hand, and have intimate conversations with residents about the issues they are passionate about. These events vary from public workshops to lectures, round table conversations, exhibitions, and fundraisers. They often engage some aspect of the annual theme and are held in the gallery, courtyard, and library. We also host community events organized and executed by outside individuals or groups renting space from SFAI. The staff will keep you informed as to when and where these events will take place and if you are welcome to attend.

What is the Public Workshop Series?
SFAI offers a series of resident-led public workshops as part of our annual workshop series to provide imaginative and educational experiences for our community, to facilitate professional development for our residents and to provide broad exposure to our network through a featured marketing campaign. All proceeds from workshop participants directly support future programming at SFAI. We accept proposals from qualified instructors who would like to share their knowledge of visual arts, performing arts, writing, and other media, along with creative place-based, storytelling, community-building, professional and leadership development, and organizing and activism techniques. Applications are sent out at the start of the thematic residency year so that workshops can be scheduled and advertised well in advance.

What is SFAI140?
SFAI 140 is our signature event that takes place three times a year in March, July, and November. In one evening, we host 20 inspiring talks that are 140 seconds each, given by SFAI residents, local artists, innovators, community members, and leaders of cultural organizations. The impetus behind SFAI 140 is to create a dynamic event where the energy and ideas shared are electric and impactful because of the abbreviated presentation format, which is based on the duration of the Gettysburg Address and Twitter’s character limit. We invite our residents who are here during March, July, and November to participate in SFAI 140. SFAI 140 is a great opportunity to meet people who are doing amazing things in Santa Fe, and for residents to show the incredible work they produce while in residence at SFAI! For more information about SFAI 140 and videos of past presenters, please visit our website and Vimeo page.



Will SFAI give me a show? Will you introduce me to curators? Will you make me famous?
We work hard to make sure that you have an enriching experience while at SFAI, but SFAI is not responsible for facilitating professional connections on the behalf of residents (i.e., introducing you to curators, establishing connections with galleries, getting you in the press, hosting an exhibition of your work). SFAI encourages residents to interact with the vibrant museum and gallery scene in Santa Fe, and will keep you informed about some of the myriad cultural events that are going on while you are here. Also, many curators and gallerists attend our events, so you will have additional opportunities to make your own connections with them.

Will SFAI promote my work?
SFAI uses a cross platform strategy to promote its programs and residents through periodic features on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as our monthly curated blog. To benefit from this promotion, residents and alumni should follow us on:


Twitter @SFAI



Residents and alumni are highly encouraged to post on the SFAI wall, tweet at SFAI, use SFAI hashtags (#SFAI, #SANTAFEARTINSTITUTE, etc.) and to share/retweet SFAI content. Suitable postings include current work, upcoming shows, articles on work, artist websites etc.

How can I keep up to date with SFAI?
SFAI keeps up to date information on its website, and is active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vimeo. In conjunction with social media, SFAI uses a monthly curated blog and newsletter to share upcoming events, opportunities, news, and updates on current projects. Residents and Alumni can connect with SFAI using the above links and signing up for our newsletter here.

Do I have to give a talk, teach a workshop, or donate a piece of art?
No you do not. We only ask that you engage fully in the experience at SFAI. This means participating in planned residency activities and engaging with our community to the extent you are able. If you happen to be here during an SFAI 140, we will be thrilled to showcase you during this dynamic public event.



Where is SFAI located?
SFAI is located in the urban center of Santa Fe amidst the burgeoning Siler Arts District, which is a mixed-use neighborhood, comprised of light industrial, commercial, and residential spaces. SFAI is about 3 miles south of the historic downtown plaza, 1 mile east of the Santa Fe River, and 5 miles west of the Santa Fe National Forest and foothills of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. While Albuquerque, roughly an hour to the south, is a larger metropolitan area that is home base of the University of New Mexico, Santa Fe is the state capitol and the seat of government in New Mexico.

What is the relationship between the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD) and SFAI residents?
Although we are located on the campus of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD), SFAI is not affiliated with SFUAD. We are an independent, non-profit organization who leases property directly from the City of Santa Fe.

How do I get to SFAI?
Many residents like to drive here so they can bring materials and also explore the region. If you choose to fly, the main airport for the entire state of New Mexico is in Albuquerque, and there is a smaller regional airport in Santa Fe. You may arrange for a shuttle that will bring you from either airport to SFAI’s front door. You can also take the train from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, but you will need to find a way from the train station to SFAI (e.g., bus, cab, or Uber). SFAI does not provide transportation to/from airports or transit stations.

How do I get around Santa Fe?
Santa Fe is a western city, meaning it isn’t the most pedestrian-friendly, so a car is the easiest way to get around, though we are very near a bus stop and an urban trail system good for biking and recreational walking. If you bring your own vehicle we have ample parking. SFAI has bicycles, along with helmets, locks, and a tire pump available for resident use. SFAI also has a car for residents to use. In order to use our car, you will need to pay a $30 per month fee and provide us with a copy of a valid U.S. driver’s license. The car is available for in-town errands and local outings only and we ask that you limit each use to three hours and fill up the gas tank after each trip. For longer trips, we recommend that you rent a car from a local rental agency. Enterprise and Budget car rental offices are both in walking distance from SFAI. Unfortunately, International residents are prohibited from using our vehicles for insurance reasons. SFAI staff are happy to drive international residents on weekly supply runs and we encourage ride-sharing with residents who have access to the SFAI car or their own vehicles after hours.

Is SFAI wheelchair accessible?
SFAI’s facility meets ADA requirements. Because SFAI is is one level without stairs or barriers, there is complete accessibility to all studios, living quarters, exhibition and event spaces, and our offices. SFAI also has two resident rooms each equipped with a roll-in bathroom designed specifically for easy wheelchair access, enlarged living space, and an additional bed for a personal care attendant.

Can I bring my pet?
SFAI only allows service animals as regulated by the ADA. If a resident plans to bring a service animal, the resident is required to inform SFAI at the time of scheduling their residency so that we can ensure the comfort of any other residents who may have phobias or allergies to dogs.

What’s the weather like in Santa Fe? How should I dress?
Santa Fe is located at 7,260’ elevation above sea level. It usually takes a few days to acclimatize to the elevation gain, which can cause temporary headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Please make sure to drink plenty of water and not overexert yourself during your first week.

The climate for Santa Fe varies greatly by season. There are about 300 days of sunshine each year. Santa Fe is dry, normally with less than 40% humidity, however there is a rainy period during the summer referred to as monsoons. August is typically the most active monsoon month, but storms can start in July and continue into September, with heavy intermittent rainfall, lightning, hail, strong winds, dust storms, and flash flooding. Summer in Santa Fe average highs of 86 degrees Fahrenheit and lows of about 53 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter highs average about 45 degrees Fahrenheit with average lows at about 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Santa Fe has roughly 30 to 34 inches of snowfall per year. The first frost is usually about October 10th and the last frost around May 1st.

What kind of clothes you pack will depend on what season you are here.

Does SFAI provide art materials or supplies?
SFAI does not provide materials or supplies. We have arranged for all residents to receive a 10% discount at Artisan’s, an art supply store that is within walking distance.

Does SFAI have a wood shop or large format inkjet printer? Does SFAI have any tools that I can use?
SFAI does not offer any specialized facilities, but does provide basic tools (e.g., hammers, screwdrivers, drills, pliers, wrenches, cutting mats, rulers, levels, ladders), ample work areas, and a free, limited membership to MAKE Santa Fe to all residents for the duration of their residency.

Can I travel during my residency?
Residents are expected to be present for the duration of their scheduled residency with the exception of medical and family emergencies or absences necessitated by other pertinent events, ideally pre-arranged with the Residency Program Manager. Day trips and short overnight trips are common and encouraged. Please note that absences during your residency do not extend your overall residency duration.

When can I come back to SFAI?
Many residents have such a positive experience that they want to return to SFAI. Our themes often have strong conceptual links from year to year, and we definitely encourage alumni to return! All residents must formally reapply if they want to return. In the rare case that there is an opening in the schedule, we might offer that to a previous resident who desires to return to complete a project.

Can I have visitors?
Residents may invite people to visit SFAI and their studio during business hours, between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday.

Residents who wish to have an overnight guest must have prior approval by the Residency Program Manager. Guests are welcome to stay in a resident’s room for a maximum of 3 nights for $25 per night. Residents may lease a separate room for a maximum of 3 nights for their guests, subject to availability, for $75 per night. All guests must check in with the Residency Program Manager or Logistics Manager upon arrival and sign a waiver. Thereafter, residents are responsible for their guests’ adherence to regulations. We do not charge for children under 18. We request that friends and family do not stay at SFAI for an extended period, nor use its studio facilities. If you have a guest visiting for longer than 3 nights, you should advise them to find external lodging (i.e., a hotel or Airbnb).