Cove Park’s European Residency Programme 2019/20 was launched on 29 March 2019 with support from British Council Scotland and Creative Scotland. The project was developed in response to Brexit and the inevitable impact of the UK’s planned departure from the European Union upon cultural exchange between artists and organisations and transnational projects. The COVID-19 crisis has heightened all of these concerns significantly and created an increasingly challenging and problematic landscape for those working with international artists and organisations.

Cove Park was awarded additional funding in March 2020 – just as lockdown was announced – to support a second series of European Residencies developed in collaboration with partners in France, Germany, Ireland and Italy. These residencies are now postponed until 2021, but as Cove Park works towards reopening in mid September this year we are taking time to reflect upon the experience of lockdown and the impact the crisis has had, and will continue to have for some time, upon national and international artists and those that support the development of their work.

International travel remains severely curtailed as a result of the ongoing crisis. Although some artists are keen to travel again, others, even within the UK, are not or are no longer able to for a range of personal and professional reasons. Digital and online projects have been a wonderful means of maintaining contact, discussion and exchange between artists and audiences, Cove Park’s own HOCP at Home programme and the Digital Writing Residency with Varuna, The National Writers’ House, Australia being two examples. Many have enjoyed working in this way and wish to continue to do so in the future, encouraged by the numerous financial and environmental benefits not having to travel can bring, but also by the increased participation online activity can lead to, engaging new audiences near and far. Others, however, miss the opportunity to meet in person, share experiences directly and engage spontaneously with new contexts, individuals and groups. As we make plans for future international programmes, understanding these different experiences and views, and looking at ways of enriching our pre-crisis approach to actual residencies at Cove Park with the benefits of digital and online activity for artists and audiences, will be central to our thinking.

Our recent report for British Council Scotland and Creative Scotland on the first year of the European Residencies demonstrated the wealth of activity the programme made possible here in Scotland and in Europe, thanks to the participation of so many inspiring artists and partners. We created residencies for 10 artists based in 8 European countries, devised and programmed in collaboration with 11 partners from 7 EU nations, many of whom were working with a Scottish organisation for the first time. The artists were able to produce new work in the studio, devise dance projects, work on new literary translations and collaborate with artists based in Scotland on new films and texts. The opportunity to be based at Cove Park for up to one month enabled these residents to meet Scottish peers, visit cultural and community-focussed organisations and to share their work for the first time with audiences in Scotland. With such a diverse range of creative activity across many art forms, a commitment to the development of new work and genuine cultural exchange, the European Residency Programme reflects Cove Park’s wider ambitions for its international programme, ambitions which will continue to be informed by the experiences and concerns of the artists and communities we work with and the political, social and economic changes we are all currently experiencing.

We would like to thank all of the artists involved in the European Residency Programme 2019/20:

Andrew Coyotzi Borja (visual artist, Mexico/Finland), Klaas Burger (visual/partipatory The Netherlands), Ida Lindgren (filmmaker/photographer, Sweden), Aliina Lindroos (dancer/choreogrpaher, Ginland/Ireland), Eva Medin (visual artist, Brazil/France), Bettina Münch (literary translator, Germany), Deirdre Nelson (maker/designer, Scotland), Annie Rutherford (writer/translator, Scotland), Lillian Samdal (textile artist/songwriter/musician, Norway), Nina van den Ven (The Netherlands)

And our key partners and funders:
Cité internationale des arts, Paris; Dance Ireland, Dublin; Helsinki International Artists Programme (HIAP); Literarisches Colloquium Berlin (LCB); MUU Artists Association, Helsinki; Nordic Artists’ Centre Dale, Norway (NKD); SEA Foundation, Tilburg, The Netherlands
Alliance Française Glasgow, Finnish Institute London, Goethe Institut GlasgowSwedish Arts Council
British Council Scotland / Creative Scotland

Image: Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, a partner in Cove Park’s European Residency Programme, 2019-2021