May 31, 2024

The international project “The Artist Is Present. Contemporary Art Residencies in Schools” has concluded

With the aim of increasing the availability of contemporary art in the regions and its inclusion in the Latvian school curriculum, at the end of 2022 the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) launched the project “The Artist Is Present. Contemporary Art Residencies in Schools”. The project took place over 18 months, during which a series of events, involving students and teachers from all over Latvia, took place – 6 contemporary art residencies, which included  different types of art: photography, dance, sculpture, sound, performance and visual art, were carried out in schools; 6 works of art and an exhibition at the international festival “SURVIVAL KIT 14” have been created with the participation of students, and a unique methodical material for teachers in Latvia, titled “How to include contemporary art in your lessons,” was developed. The project team included both local and Norwegian artists and experts, who worked to create unique cultural events together. In total, more than 1,000 students and teachers from all over Latvia were involved in the project. Both students and teachers pointed out that art projects of this kind are very necessary in every school in Latvia to get to know contemporary art better through practical activities and involvement.

At the start of the project, an opening conference was held, which you can watch here: opening conference [LV]

Long-term art residencies in schools are new in Latvia. To prepare local artists for work in schools, in the initial stages of the project, great support was provided by the project partners from Oslo, Norway – the artist collective TENTHAUS, who have been collaborating with schools for more than 10 years. In 6 online mentoring sessions, the artists were inspired by stories of the Norwegian artists’ experiences and learned practical techniques for working with students and teachers, as well as gained knowledge about the students’ psychology in different age groups. The artists also got acquainted with the State program “Competency based approach in the curriculum” (School2030) standards, which was very useful when planning the inclusion of art in the general educational content. These sessions have been translated into Latvian and are a useful and inspiring resource for anyone who wants to gain insights into starting a collaboration between a school and an artist. The mentoring sessions can be viewed here: Mentoring sessions

In February 2023, seven artists – Eva Vēvere, Maksims Šenteļevs, Artūrs Punte, Vika Eksta, Anda Lāce, Kristīne Brīniņa and Gundega Evelone – set out for residencies in schools all over Latvia, in each of them holding at least 10 meetings of different formats with students. Each artist had their own unique working method in the chosen school. By the end of May, ideas for six works of art, which could later be viewed as part of the international contemporary art festival “SURVIVAL KIT” in Riga, were developed in the residencies. You can get acquainted with each artist’s experience and insights in these stories:

Eva Vēvere at Jelgava Spīdola State Gymnasium
Maksims Šenteļevs and Artūrs Punte at Strenči Primary School
Vika Eksta at Aglona Secondary School
Anda Lāce at Antūži Primary School
Kristīne Brīniņa at Liepāja Catholic Primary School
Gundega Evelone at Bolderāja New Primary School

“The psychological peace, free space for self-expression and other forms of collaboration with classmates and teachers gained during the art residency are a favorable condition in which it is easier to absorb the learning material in other subjects as well. Creativity creates greater self-confidence and motivation to find diverse learning approaches,” the project’s artist Kristīne Brīniņa comments on the gained experience.

In August 2023, the first contemporary art camp in Latvia took place. In it, the artists and students from the schools participating in the residencies joined together with guest artists from the Norwegian collective TENTHAUS. It was an opportunity to meet the most active youths from the residencies all over Latvia, to work together with artists on the exhibition works, as well as to meet young people from Valmiera, who over five days participated in 10 workshops organized by artists. Around 100 participants in total attended the camp. More information about the activities which took place at the camp can be found here: The Artist Is Present – first contemporary art summer camp

The ideas formed in the residencies were developed during the camp, and already in September every visitor to the Vidzeme Market could get acquainted with them. An exhibition “The Artist Is Present” was put together in the market’s small kiosks, where visitors could view the artworks from all six residencies, created together by the students and artists. More than 12,000 visitors, of which more than 1,200 were students aged 6-18, visited the exhibition, in which the residencies’ students also worked as art mediators, talking about their own artworks. Here is a recap of “The Artist Is Present” exhibition: Exhibition [LV]

Throughout the duration of the project, the creation of methodological material for teachers was taking place. In a cycle of 6 online classes, 33 teachers from all over Latvia worked on the methodical material “How to include contemporary art in your classes”. Teachers from all school grades attended co-creation workshops. The educators shared the challenges they have faced in schools and in preparing art lessons. Several experts were involved in the creation of methodical materials to compile the techniques and tasks employed during the artists’ residencies, which resulted in 12 lesson plans for each class group, including more than 20 different methods for working with students, tested in practice. This material is also accompanied by a list that compiles about 200 contemporary artists, as well as a glossary of terms, explaining about 60 terms related to contemporary art in simple language. The material also includes useful articles – about assessment in art, visiting contemporary art exhibitions, an insight into art therapy methods to use in classes, and the artists’ own insights into the implementation of long-term projects together with students. The material was released and presented to teachers during in-person seminars at the end of the project. The teachers admitted that the content of the created material is vast and varied, the proposed tasks are interesting and develop creativity. The easy-to-use tasks are also linked to the current general education content standards and School2030 topics.Every teacher is invited to get acquainted with the methodical material and to use it – the material is available online for free: Methodical material [LV]

We are pleased that the artists’ collaboration with schools continues also after the project has ended – both in the form of diverse creative workshops within the “Latvian School Bag” program, and by encouraging schools and municipalities to consider inviting artists for residencies in their schools. The artists Eva Vēvere, Gundega Evelone, Anda Lāce and Kristīne Brīniņa have developed a series of residency workshops that can be adapted to the needs of every class group in schools.

“The residency format can facilitate teachers’ work by offering an insight into the processes of contemporary art, performing an explanatory function, broadening the understanding of today’s current art media and their possibilities, highlighting the so often missing connection between historical and contemporary art,” admits the project’s artist Eva Vēvere.

You can learn about the currently available workshops and residencies here:
Latvijas Laikmetīgās mākslas centrs | SKOLAS SOMA (ākslinieku_rezidenču_piedāvājumi

The project “The Artist is Present – Contemporary Art Residencies in Schools” (Nr.EEZ/2022/2/27) is part of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 Programme “Local Development, Poverty Reduction and Cultural Cooperation” under the call “Support for the creation of professional art and cultural products for children and young people”. The total eligible costs of the project are EUR 228 713,36, of which EUR 194 406,36 are covered by the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism and EUR 34 307,00 are co-financed by the national budget. The aim of the project is to promote the involvement of Latvian children and young people in contemporary art processes.

Working together for an inclusive and competitive Europe!

Other useful information and overview of the activities which took place can be found on the project’s website: or by contacting the project manager Māra Žeikare (

More information about the project:
Mākslinieks ir klātesošs – laikmetīgās mākslas rezidences skolās – EEZ un Norvēģijas finanšu instrumenti (
Projekti / Latvijas Laikmetīgās mākslas centrs (