Live streams of artists working offered to public on social media

As regulations went into effect to prevent the spread of COVID-19, businesses everywhere were forced to adapt and innovate in order to continue operating. For Laboratory in downtown Spokane, executive director Kryston Skinner was able to keep the doors open for its residency program, without needing any actual doors at all.

Laboratory, a part of Spokane Interactive Arts, is a program designed to provide residencies to artists from all around the world. Normally, these residencies last 1–3 months with artists living in shared apartments in downtown, devoting their time to the development of their own interactive art pieces. As March came to a close and Washington’s “stay home, stay healthy” order began however, it appeared Laboratory would have to temporarily shut down its program.

That’s when Skinner decided to try something Laboratory had never done before—virtual, remote residencies. The notion was met with great anticipation from artists all over, as Laboratory received nearly double its usual amount of applications to the program. “It’s a unique opportunity for artists that wouldn’t normally be able to afford to travel and do this program,” says Skinner. “In a way it’s also a great distraction for them during these times.”

Five artists were selected to be remote residents for the month of April. Instead of convening and working in Spokane, the artists work in their own private spaces with one unique twist: On a nearly daily basis, each artist hosts a live, one-hour stream open to the public of themselves working on their projects. “It’s exciting because you’re able to actually see the artist’s process and follow their progress throughout the month,” says Skinner.

Artists’ feeds are streamed live via Facebook and Instagram, and later archived to Laboratory’s YouTube channel. If the “stay home, stay healthy” order has not been lifted early enough in May, Skinner says they will consider doing another full round of remote residencies. “This is a hard time for everyone. We’re very happy we were able to find a way to continuing doing what we do.” Even once Laboratory is able to return to supporting resident artists in-house, Skinner says that in light of the success of the program thus far Laboratory is considering continuing to host one remote resident a quarter.

To view live streams of the remote residents in the month of April, visit Laboratory’s Facebook page, @LaboratorySpokane, or on Instagram, @laboratoryresidency. On Friday, May 1, each artist will host a live stream showing off their final, completed works.

Spokane Interactive Arts is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. To make a tax-deductible donation to support the continuation of its mission, visit their page here.

Photo credit: Laboratory