The program at VACI is centered on working with mentors in small and intimate group settings that emphasize one-on-one conversation. Because all of the mentors wear multiple hats as they engage in multiple disciplines, including painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, craft, digital media, performance, social engagement, installation and the undefinable, the residency program is open to all. If you are curious, hard-working, and generous, we are interested in having you. We welcome experimentation and research as a basis for this program.

In addition to working with exceptional artists, critics, curators and the like, a residency at Chautauqua will offer you access to all of its incredible programming, including lectures, events, and programming outside of VACI. The seven-week residency runs from June 27th to August 15th, 2019.

Participants in our program will interact with both mentors who will be in residence over the course of the residency and visiting artists that will come in for short stints throughout the seven weeks. In addition, we have a vibrant lecture series with visiting artists sharing stories, their histories and commentary on issues of the day. The schedule for visiting artists, mentors and speakers will be posted on a calendar on this website at the time of registration. 

In addition, we welcome collaborative projects with different schools and organizations at Chautauqua. In 2019, mentor Hrag Vartanian collaborated with the Cinema curating two films as a part of the summer program and he also worked with participants to collaborate with the Smith Memorial Library. We also took a trip to the Seneca Iroquois National Museum and intend to visit again in 2020.

Each participant artist receives a partitioned studio space with 24-hour access. They also have 24-hour access to communal studios in painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics and sculpture. Each participant is required to work with at least two mentors of their choice and can sign up for as many one-on-one sessions as they wish.

Facilities at the School of Art include a digital media studio, a full printmaking studio, a large drawing room, sculpture facilities including welding equipment, a full ceramic facility and large outdoor areas to stretch out and make work. To see more details about our studios and facilities, please click on to our Facilities page.

VACI offers the opportunity for the kind of sustained and focused time for research that is not available in academic settings, but the program is not designed for everyone. Those who need continual instruction or who cannot work in a community setting would find the long days, the requirement for self-motivation, and the demanding nature of the program may be difficult to adjust to. But for those artists who think about their work 24/7 and are hungry to engage with exceptionally serious artists, a public who is eager to learn from and be inspired by artists, Chautauqua in the summer is an invaluable experience.

Estimated costs for this program: $4,675 which includes tuition, studio space, access to all of the School of Art facilities and Chautauqua grounds, gate pass, registration fees, room cost and meal plan for 7 weeks, 3 meals per day. Funding is available.

View more information about housing and meals

Financial Assistance

VACI offers a low tuition rate relative to other national summer art programs. Even so, there are many artists who request assistance, and funding is competitive. Funding from VACI comes in the form of tuition reduction coupled with a work/study requirement. All recipients are asked to contribute to basic chores, assisting mentors and staff, studio maintenance and other duties up to 10 hours per week at an assigned job. Participants who accept financial assistance and do not satisfactorily fulfill obligations will be dismissed from the program with no refund. All participants who receive full financial assistance are required to work the full 10 hours/week.

Financial assistance from VACI comes in the form of full tuition, half tuition and partial tuition, as well as some additional assistance which also covers housing. Additionally, there may be resident hall assistant positions which cover housing costs for mature students. Residence hall assistant positions are available to students 21 years and older who have had experience in college residence halls or in supervision of young people. 

Work/study assistance is made on the basis of a combination of financial need and artistic merit. Financial assistance outside of VACI’s resources in the form of home institutions and/or generous benefactors come with no work/study requirements.

In 2019, we awarded 36 out of 38 participants full funding, covering the cost of attending the Chautauqua School of Art residency program through partnerships with different institutions and organizations. You can see our current list of partnerships here. If you are interested in more information or want to be a part of our Partnerships program, please contact the VACI Artistic Director Sharon Louden at

Thank you for your interest!

College Credit

fredonia logo one line 2c web 1Participants in the Chautauqua School of Art residency program can receive undergraduate or graduate credit for their studies at the Chautauqua Schools of Performing and Visual Arts. Credits are available by special arrangement with the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia. This is at the prevailing cost of SUNY tuition, in addition to tuition, room and board costs at CHQ. Students must indicate their desire for college credit at initial registration.

Visual Arts students can receive up to three credits for studio work for the course Special Topics: Studio Art (ARTS 390) – 1-3 credits.

For more information please contact:

Sarah Malinoski-Umberger, Manager, Chautauqua Schools of Performing and Visual Arts

Eric Skowronski, Director of Extended Learning, SUNY Fredonia