Bellagio Center Application Guidelines

(Click here to download these guidelines. These guidelines are only applicable to the Bellagio Center residencies. Click here for a guide to applying to our other residencies)


Applications can be made through the following avenues:

1. Online Applications Portal:

Visit the Africa Centre AIR website to apply via our Online Application Portal

2. E-mail Application:

Download the Bellagio Center application form here and send your application directly to Please ensure that all attachments are less than 5MB. Be sure to add the artistic discipline you are applying under i.e. visual arts/performing arts; music, etc followed by a dash and your full name in the email subject field.

If your attachments are larger than 5MB, you can upload them using Google Drive and share a link to the folder with us. You may also use Dropbox or WeTransfer. These are all free services.

3. Submitting via Post:

If you cannot use any of the above methods, you may download the ‘for post’ version of the application form here. Fill it in and post it to us.

Postal Address:




The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Residency Program awards highly accomplished academics, practitioners and artists four weeks of residence at the Bellagio Center on Lake Como, Italy. Residents and their spouses receive free room and board as well as a space to work. They spend most of their time at Bellagio working on their own projects but also have an unparalleled opportunity to interact with fellow residents from a stimulating array of disciplines and geographies. The combination of uninterrupted, individual time during the day and evenings spent with innovative leaders, policy makers, scientists, writers, and artists from a wide array of fields advances fellows’ current projects and stimulates creative approaches to future work.

The Bellagio Center Residency Program

The Bellagio residency program is intended to offer residents a serene setting conducive to focused, goal-oriented work as well as ample opportunities to interact with each other. The residency is for artists seeking time for disciplined work, reflection, and collegial engagement with a diverse community of academics, practitioners coming from a broad range of sectors, as well as other artists working in a broad range of disciplines.

  • Residents are given a private room with a bath and study/studio. Internet access is available in all bedrooms and most studies. A small library includes basic reference books and online research tools. Spouses/partners may accompany the resident but accommodations are not available for other individuals, including children or pets. Room and board are provided to all residents at no cost.
  • Studio space is available but certain types of artistic production are not suitable for Bellagio—e.g. the production of large-scale work, and work that requires specialised equipment that cannot be easily brought to the Center. Bellagio is often, though there are exceptions, best suited for early or near final stages of work—either when research and conceptualization are shaping early work or when the final touches or post-production documentation is taking place.
  • Residents are invited to take meals together, with dinner being the main meal. Meal times are the focal point of interaction with other residents.
  • Travel grants and modest stipends to offset incidental travel costs are available on a needs basis.

Please Note On Eligibility: Applicants may apply for a residency three times (inclusive of Academic Writing, Arts & Literary Arts, and Practitioner Residencies), and successful candidates have a lifetime limit of two residencies. Former residents applying for a second residency must wait at least five years since their first residency before submitting a new application, and must demonstrate significant professional achievement and/or project advancement since their first residency.

Genre /discipline of artists the residency attracts:  Composers, fiction and non-fiction writers, playwrights, poets, video/filmmakers, and visual artists who share in the Foundation’s mission of promoting the well-being of humankind and whose work is inspired by or relates to global or social issues.

Selection criteria:

Applications will be evaluated in the following areas: 

The professional qualifications/achievements of the applicant:

  1. Applicant must be at a mid- to late-stage in his or her career. The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center welcomes artists working in any artistic discipline (writing, music composition, visual art, filmmaking, choreography, etc.) or engaging in multi-disciplinary practices.
  2. Applicant must demonstrate a history of significant achievement. This may be reflected in a number of group or solo exhibitions, published works, representation in major galleries and museums, performance history, critical media mentions, etc.
  3. Applicant must be actively producing work, in addition to having a history of past achievement
  4. Applicant should either have had considerable impact on their artistic field OR be on a clear upward trajectory in his or her career, gaining critical attention and international recognition
  5. Applicant should be able to demonstrate that his or her work has influenced a wide audience—audience reach may be evident in a number of ways, e.g. in the quantity and geographic spread of exhibitions or performances and critical reviews of the work, or in the case of a literary artist in the number of translations of previous work.

The quality and theme of the proposed project:

  1. Applicant should have a clear project proposal and basic work plan that either advances and builds upon prior work or takes work in a compelling new direction, and that will likely have an important impact or broad reception in his/her artistic community.
  2. While the overall quality of the proposed project and its potential impact are the most important considerations, the Rockefeller Foundation has an interest in supporting artistic projects that resonate with, take inspiration from or contribute to reflection that engages the Foundation’s strategic goals to build resilience and inclusive economies. For reference, the Rockefeller Foundation defines its strategic goals in the following ways:

Resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities and systems to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of stress and shocks, and even transform when conditions require it. Building resilience is about making people, communities and systems better prepared to withstand catastrophic events—both natural and manmade—and able to bounce back more quickly and emerge stronger from these shocks and stresses.

Inclusive Economies: To advance inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, especially for those facing the greatest barriers to advancing their well-being.

When selecting between the strongest proposals, the Rockefeller Foundation will also prioritise projects that connect thematically (either directly or tangentially) with one or more of the Rockefeller Foundation’s focus areas, OR projects that take inspiration from or may inform the discourse around social or global issues. For reference, the Foundation works in four related focus areas: Advance HealthRevalue EcosystemsSecure Livelihoods, and Transform Cities.

The suitability of the applicant and of the project for the Bellagio Center:

    1. Given the high degree of interaction between residents at Bellagio, selected applicants must be personable, intellectually curious, and comfortable in international settings.
    2. Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center must be an appropriate forum for the proposed project and the work plan must be appropriate for the Center. Studio space is available but certain types of artistic production are not suitable for Bellagio—e.g. the production of large scale work, and work that requires specialised equipment that cannot be easily brought to the Center. Bellagio is often, though there are many exceptions, best suited for early or near final stages of work—either when research and conceptualization are shaping early work or when the final touches or post-production documentation is taking place.
    3. The final selection decision will also consider whether the amount of time requested (a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 weeks) is appropriate for the proposed work plan.

Other Criteria:

  • All selected applicants must have English language proficiency
  • Must have a valid passport
  • Each application is considered on its own merits; we do not give special consideration to couples. If a husband and wife, or life partners, each apply for a residency, and if only one individual is found to meet our standards, only that individual is awarded a residency.


Required Application Materials

1. The Arts and Literary Arts Application Form

Artists must answer all questions (note that some questions are multiple choice). This is an opportunity for an artist to speak to:

  • The project’s potential connection to The Rockefeller Foundation’s strategic goals and issue areas
  • The project’s overall purpose, goal, and intended output

2. A one-page Letter of Recommendation from the Outreach and Selection Partner

  • This should speak to the qualities of the applicant that suggest he/she is a strong candidate for the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Residency.
  • If coming from the outreach and selection partner, this should reflect the rationale of the nominating committee and/or jury review of the applicant—include direct commentary where appropriate.
  • If requesting a letter of recommendation from an external referee, please ask the referee to comment on the following points:
    • the competence and capabilities of the applicant, particularly with regard to the proposed project,
    • the merit and substance of the proposed project, particularly the follow-on contribution to or likely impact on the field;
    • the applicant’s ability and inclination to engage with a multidisciplinary community of scholars, policy makers and artists at the Bellagio Center, where most conversations take place in English; and
    • how the referee became acquainted with the applicant.

3. Work Sample 

The requirements for the work sample vary by artist field. Specific work sample requirements are listed in the appendix for Composers, Interdisciplinary Artists, Literary Artists – including by not limited to Fiction, Non-Fiction, Playwright, Poet, Video/Filmmaker, and Visual Artist.

4. Abbreviated CV

Artists submit a CV with career highlights, including publications and awards (up to 4 pages).

5. Published Reviews (optional but highly recommended)

Artists may submit up to three published reviews of their work. They may combine them into one Word or PDF document. They should be full reviews with proper citation and in English.

 6. Additional Project Information (optional)

Artists may include a chapter, section, draft or brief outline of a project, book, or publication that they propose to work on at the Bellagio Center.

Application Deadline: 30th September 2016

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