Well it has been just over a week since we were named the artists in residence at Dry Tortugas. What has been going on? In the first few days we put out the first round of press releases and are talking to several outlets about our story. As the AiRs we have certain requirements we must do before the trip like get insurance for the trip. We are looking into that. One of the other things we have to do is complete a series of four FEMA courses and final exams. it is 2-3 full days of work for each of us. We are about half way done. It is safe to say we now know more about incident response frameworks and chain of command than we every thought we'd need to. It's a national Park residency which means it's government so red tape is to be expected. It did get me thinking though. I was awarded three different residencies this year and Shannon two. Don't get me started on the feast or famine nature of these things. I'll give my thoughts on getting a leg up when applications / grants and residencies in another post for what my opinion on the matter is worth. What strikes me as funny about each of the residencies is just how different they are in approach to communication and requirements. No two residencies are alike. One of my residencies is at a National Preserve and does not require the same level certification, That may be due to the remote nature of the Dry Tortugas I guess. So here is my advice when applying to that residency you really want. If there are posted rules and FAQs read them carefully. Make sure you are a good fit. Next when you are accepted and get an offer letter or contact read it carefully as well. Finally make sure you know who your contact person is and ask questions. It is easy to make assumptions that may cost you in time or money later. I have been very fortunate to have had very responsive contact people with all three of my residencies. Through the NPAF (National Parks Arts Foundation) we have been assigned an artist liaison. who works with us and can answer most questions with out having to ask the park, but when needed she knows who to ask and get the correct info for us. In the case of a long remote residency like the Tortugas it is key so you don't bring extra stuff they may already have on site and that you don't inadvertently break any rules. Neither of us want to have our torches extinguished and be asked to leave the island. I guess my best advice is communicate, communicate communicate. It will help make the residency you have waited for pleasant and stress free. We are quite lucky and have a team at NPAF working with us to help make sure things go swimmingly. One other piece of advice on this topic. If you can find past residents of your residency, you'd be amazed at what a google search will turn up. talk to them ask them what they brought that they did not need and also ask what they wish they had brought with them. They have a different point of view than your hosts and can be extremely helpful.
On another note we have two great podcasts coming up in the next few weeks. We will be interviewing George Sites, Author of 'The Last Tucker' and who also worked at Dry Tortugas in the late 1960's we can't wait to hear some of his stories! Then we will have Tanya Ortega, The founder of the NPAF for a chat and to talk about all the great programs and residencies they offer with the National Parks. If you are thinking of ever applying to an artist residency that will be an episode you want to listen to. Now back to those FEMA Exams!
for the Flying Tortuga Brothers