We ask for better communication

a letter of complaint

By anonymous

Dear Art Institutions,

As young artists, beginning our journey in the arts, we would like to share a few frustrations with you.

We are challenged by your communication or the lack of communication you prove to be practicing.

When we write to you, whether it’s to apply for residencies, to look for partners for projects, or to reconnect because we met you at our school’s graduation shows, we often do not get a response. We write a second time, but still, we do not get an answer from you. This is very discouraging as we set out on the difficult adventure of working as an artist. We would love for you to just say “No.” rather than not respond. At least then we would know you are not ignoring us.

Sometimes we do get responses, and only when it’s a negative one. We would really appreciate having a little bit of an explanation and feedback. How else are we to grow or understand that you are not the right partner or that what we’re doing doesn’t fit in your programme?

This lack of communication creates a strong power dynamic that is exclusionary. What’s more, this choice you make strengthens the narrative that the art field is impenetrable, opaque and that without an existing network, the chances to enter are quite low. Why foster an atmosphere of competition, strife and false meritocracy?

We would like you to be aware, too, that your behavior impacts the mental health of young artists who assume that a lack of communication is due to their ‘lack of talent’ or their project has an uninteresting or irrelevant approach, when actually it’s sometimes a lack of space, a bad match for the theme of a programme, or a completely full programme.

Why not be more transparent about how you function, how you make selections, when it’s the best time to contact you, or even maybe sharing that you are overworked, understaffed or struggling to respond to communication?

Here is what we ask from you for better, more considerate communication:

  • Respond to our emails. A ‘No.’ is better than no answer at all. Please let us know when we can apply again.
  • Give us feedback when we receive a ‘No’. We understand this is a lot of work, and it’s not always possible. But giving feedback is a choice to care and acknowledge work that was produced in the process of applying to a residency with a project.
  • If you cannot give feedback, let us know. Please tell us that it is not due to a lack of interest or curiosity.
  • Be transparent.


Sincerely ..............................................