Gap Exchange – International Residency Initiatives Scheme 2023

Gap Exchange – International Residency Initiatives Scheme 2023 was an international arts practice exchange for contemporary artists with a performance practice. Devised by artist Lian Bell, and Irish Theatre Institute, the Residency Scheme provided theatre artists the opportunity to share their practice, learn from international peers, and develop an international network.

Six artists based in Ireland were brought into connection with six international artists, two in Belgium, two in England and two in the Netherlands. Each artist was paired with an international artist and visited them in their homeplace.

In addition, the group of artists met online for over four months.

The programme was designed to be informal, egalitarian, and thoughtful, and with a focus on taking time, slowing down, being flexible, and offering hospitality. The visits took place outside of capital cities, and the artists were equal partners in devising the visits.

Who were the artists?

The participating artists were in the following pairs:

Deirdre Dwyer (writer, director, designer & dramaturg, IRL) and Fatih De Vos (rapper, sociologist, youth worker, and youth consultant, based in BE)

James Riordan (theatre maker and artistic director of Brú Theatre, IRL) and Simone Tani (performer, mask maker, and managing artistic director at Teatro Pomodoro, based in the UK).

Luke Casserly (multidisciplinary performance maker, IRL) and Merel Stolker (artist working between performance, visual art, and social practice, BE).

Noelle Brown (actor, writer and theatre maker, IRL) and Jija Sohn (dance artist, based in NL).

Peter Power (multidisciplinary visual artist, composer, sound designer and director, IRL) and Asa Horviz (performance maker and composer, based in NL)

Shanna May Breen (performance maker, IRL) and  Gregory Herbert (visual artist, UK)


There were three international partners Bluecoat (Liverpool), Spring Festival (Utrecht), and Viernulvier (Ghent). In Ireland, the local partners were Mermaid Arts Centre, Town Hall Theatre, Backstage Arts Centre, Everyman Theatre, and Garter Lane.

What happened on the visits?

Each artist hosted the person they were paired with, giving them an insight into their creative community in their homeplace. Twelve Gap Exchange visits happened in Cork, Galway, Ghent, Liverpool, Longford, Offaly, Utrecht, and Waterford. Each visit was five days plus travel, and was curated by the hosting artist, with the support of ITI and the local partners.

The only requirement for each visit plan was a practice sharing workshop with the guest artist, that was open to local artists. Each guest artist also had a Gap Day for their own reflective time. Other activities were planned by the host artist in each location to bring local artists into contact with the visiting artist – such as thinking time, walks, meals, informal events and gatherings. Each hosting artist was also given a budget to support activities, such as invite local artists for meals and drinks so that the hospitality and connections could spread further.

Each visit was unique and tailored around the interests and knowledge of the paired artists. As well as the practice sharing workshops, the kinds of activities that were planned by the artists included: venue and organisation visits, cups of tea with local artists, nights out at performances and gigs, artist walks, pizza making, sea swimming, vegetable picking, a radio interview, exhibition visiting, a food tour, a hip hop cypher, cycling trips, nature walks, foraging, meals shared, artist friend introductions, and lots and lots of good conversations.

Gap Exchange succeeded in creating meaningful connections and insight where none existed before.

Gap Exchange 2023 – International Residencies Scheme (Video produced by Arcade Film Ltd.)

Artist Testimonials:

“I think what the Gap Exchange programme really gave me was total immersion in new work and connections with new artists, but also time to reflect.”

“There should be more programs like this that really are artist-centred and focus on actual needs. Such a profoundly brilliant experience and I’m so grateful for everything it brought me.”

“By getting to know a place that is foreign to you so intimately, you can really start to understand your own context better. Also, you can start to understand what you have, what you don’t have, what you desire, what you want in the future, what you would like to change. And that’s a very valuable experience.”

“Through both our exchanges we had many conversations about our ways of making and practices and the potential of a future collaboration. This is something we’re currently planning for which is hugely exciting, to keep that connect going. Hopefully this initial exchange will be the seed for many future  exchanges between us as artists.”

The programme was funded through the Arts Council’s International Residency Initiatives and was supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs.