In 2014, printmaker Veronica Calarco purchased a very large building for a very small sum in a picturesque village in the Snowdonia National Park. Veronica had been looking for a small place to establish a studio, but instead found this building which was originally a shop and residence. It had been empty for over two years. With the building located in a breathtakingly beautiful location, Veronica decided to convert a couple of the spaces into studio/bedrooms and open them up for other artists to come, visit and work. Suddenly, Veronica found herself running an artist-in-residence program with no money, no budget and very little time—she had also started a PhD in printmaking at the same time.
Over the six years since Stiwdio Maelor was established, Veronica has hosted over 200 artists, writers, dancers, musicians and filmmakers with a lot of these artists returning multiple times. The village has changed from a quiet backwater with low house prices, a volunteer café and a pub on the verge of shutting down, into a village with a bustling pub, a thriving café/shop, as well as a volunteer café. House prices are now steadily rising. Each year, Veronica holds competitions where four to six creatives can win either a two-week or four-week residency.
After six years of the program and over 250 residencies, Veronica has witnessed both great and dreadful moments. This paper will talk about the high and low points of establishing a residency program on miniscule budget, how art changes an area without the local people quite knowing why and how Veronica has managed to (mostly) keep smiling throughout the experience.