Residency FAQ

General Questions

Is the Santa Fe Art Institute a school or a university?
SFAI is not a school or university. We do not offer degrees or certificates. We do occasionally offer public workshops, professional development courses for artists, and specialized arts curricula to targeted age groups, including youth and children.

What is the relationship between the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD) and SFAI?
SFAI is an independent, non-profit organization located on the former campus of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD). SFAI is separate from the campus and leases property directly from the City of Santa Fe.

Our location and beautiful building is the result of visionary thinking and significant investment in the arts in Santa Fe by John and Anne Marion. John was an SFAI Board Member who began conversations with the College of Santa in the 1990’s, to develop a permanent location for SFAI and to establish an arts focus on education in midtown Santa Fe. Our building, designed by Ricardo Legorreta, was created to specifically accommodate our flagship residency program, and was the impetus for the Visual Arts Center at the College of Santa Fe in the late 1990’s. Read more here.

What’s happening with the Campus?
The campus, which was originally the College of Santa Fe, is now owned by the City of Santa Fe. The City purchased the property from the College of Santa Fe in 2009, when the College closed, and leased it to the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD) until SFUAD closed in June 2018. With the closure of SFUAD, the City is working on opportunities for appropriate use and development, so that the campus can serve as a model to help revitalize the entire Midtown District. You can learn more here about the campus, the City’s process to date, and SFAI’s partnerships with the City.


Thematic Residency Application & Selection Process

Why is there an annual theme?
SFAI implements yearlong thematic programming to address pertinent questions facing diverse regional and global communities in an effort to promote positive social change. We support creative innovation and recognize that complex problems require interdisciplinary solutions. The theme and the basic questions we pose around it are intended to be catalysts for critical thinking and provide a framework around which the diverse peoples and disciplines involved in SFAI programming can foster mutual understanding, have synergistic conversations, and potentially collaborate on common goals.

How do you select the theme each year?
The theme is based on research, dialogue, and evaluation of the work of SFAI artists and issues that are percolating in conversation, the news and social media. SFAI reviews the work that current artists are exploring and experimenting with and where they are taking their work. We conduct roundtables and public programming to more deeply explore these issues and their root causes. We start with assessing the most pertinent local issues, and then make a determination by evaluating whether we can apply that to a national and international level.

My current work does not relate to the theme. Can I still apply?
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?
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.

I do not have a BFA, MFA, or other formal training – can / should I still apply?
We do not require any particular level of education or formal training to apply to our residency program.

What are you looking for in a project proposal and/or work samples?
We seek a meaningful connection between your project proposal and the theme, with as much detail as possible related to how this connects with your practice and past work, and the impact you feel it may have on the proposed topic. It is not typically helpful to the jury to spend limited space specifically describing a piece that you will create while in residency – rather, they seek to understand the concept, medium, potential collaborations and highest aspirations. Describe if you are seeking to build new work, experiment with a new medium, or feel that a residency at SFAI will be a transformative experience in some way.

Your work samples should be of the highest artistic quality, and ideally reflect work that is most relevant to your project proposal.

Who reviews my application? Is the jury the same each year?
The jury 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. 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 modest stipend for their participation which comes from the application fees.

How does the Application Review Process work? What are the evaluation criteria?
Each application is reviewed by at least two jurors

The selection process for our international thematic residency program is based primarily on the applicant’s ability to creatively and critically engage with the annual residency theme.

The evaluation criteria for our international thematic residency program also focus on: artistic and creative excellence; 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 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 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.

Why don’t you offer personalized feedback on applications?
Based on the high number of applications received each year, staff and jurors are not able to provide feedback on applications.

How often may I apply for a residency at SFAI?
Once every 24 months.

Am I allowed to defer my residency?
No. Because the theme and selection committee change each year, we are unable to defer residencies.


Residency Costs

What is the cost of a Residency at SFAI?
All of our residencies are offered free of charge to awarded residents. We require a $35 non-refundable processing fee in order to submit your application. We also require a refundable $150 security deposit to guarantee your participation in the residency. Residents are responsible for the cost of travel to / from and during their stay at SFAI.

SFAI is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our monthly institutional costs for the international thematic residency program are roughly $4,000 per resident. Beginning in September 2017, SFAI chose to subsidize these residency costs to broaden access to and diversify our program in our commitment to supporting individuals dedicated to positive social change through creativity. This requires a significant amount of fundraising each year, and we welcome donations from residents, individuals and organizations to help support this important programming.

If you or your organization would like to graciously donate to SFAI to directly sponsor an artist and help us continue to support our tuition-free social justice themed residency program for years to come, please click here. (link)

Is financial aid available?
SFAI does not offer financial aid at this time, nor does it act as a fiscal sponsor to residents. We suggest incoming residents apply for local and regional grants and/or initiate a crowdfunding campaign to support their financial needs to attend the SFAI Thematic Residency.



Where is SFAI located?
SFAI is located in the urban center of Santa Fe on the Midtown Campus, 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.

How do I get to SFAI?
Many residents like to drive here if they can, in order to bring materials and explore the region. If you bring your car, we have ample free parking. If you choose to fly, the main airport is in Albuquerque, and there is a smaller regional airport in Santa Fe. You may arrange for a shuttle through Sandia Shuttles that will bring you from the Albuquerque airport to SFAI’s front door. You can also take the Rail Runner Express 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 that outside the historic downtown plaza area, it isn’t the most pedestrian-friendly. A car is the easiest way to get around, though we are very near a bus stop and an urban trail system for biking and recreational walking. 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. 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.

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, so what kind of clothes you pack will depend on when you are here. 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 the monsoon season. 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 averages 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.

Can I bring my pet?
SFAI only allows service animals as regulated by the ADA. This does not include Emotional Support, Therapy or Comfort Animals. If you require a service animal, you must inform SFAI at the time of scheduling your residency.

Can I have overnight guests?
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. We do not charge for children under 18. Residents may lease a separate room, when available, for $75 per night. All guests must check in with staff upon arrival and sign a waiver.

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).

Do I have to bring my own towels and bedding?
No. SFAI provides sheets, blankets, pillows, pillowcases, and towels.

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 oils and spices. Residents provide their own supplemental food and are responsible for preparing their own meals.

SFAI also provides residents two communal meals per month, including the Welcome Lunch and Lunch with the Director.