BELGRADE, Serbia (ViaNews) – Artists in Serbia have long got accustomed to being a part of some of the many Artist Residency Programs, also known as Art Colonies.

Art Colonies are scattered all over the country and have become one of the most popular and supportive ways for artistic production. Serbian Art Colonies have a long history and tradition in the country, going back one century and their organizational system is still somewhat connected to Socialist times. The Artist Residency Programs are still one of the most exciting and realistic options for reaching the art market, get international recognition, and promote a country-wide artist networking system.

Artists, especially emerging ones, are in constant search for the opportunity that will help them launch their careers. The Artist Residency Program seem to offer that exactly, a secure temporary living and working environment. The work materials and living expenses are covered, while artists are left to do what they do best, to create art.

The art scene in Serbia has not yet fully recovered from the events that followed the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. A long period of both political and social isolation that had left a significant impact on every segment of society, the following transitional period made it possible for the country to keep up with the most recent trends of the contemporary art scene.

Serbia has continued its long-lasting trend of reducing the budget for culture, reaching today around 8,3 billion Serbian dinars (around 69 million euros) or 0,82% of the overall republic budget. Still, Serbian tradition in art and artistic practices is everything but negligible.

Today, Serbia has more than 200 registered art colonies (Tadić, D., Gruden, M., & Prohaska-Marković, M.,2009, etc…), some of which were founded as far as in 1905. Since their beginnings, Art Colonies have always had an educational, as well as social and political context, which went hand in hand with socialist cultural policy at the time.

Serbia has a century-old tradition of art colonies, many of which are homes of great artwork, mostly paintings. In 2003, the Serbian Ministry of Culture has for the first time opened an annual contest for the co-financing of projects contributing to the development and presentation of art and culture.

The Potential Problem

Art colonies in Serbia have a long tradition and are an enviable art ecosystem. Even though the state was the founder of most of them, today they might have become trapped in the system where the lack of state support might become troublesome.

Even though Artist Residencies are flourishing, most Serbian Art colonies’ organizational models have, since their establishment, remained focused on traditional art disciplines.

A modest state financial support might fail to help create tools and ways for the Serbian Art colonies to become more relevant, sustainable, and in pace with the contemporary art trends.