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There are two main meanings to the term Artist-in-Residence. One is an honorary title conferred by a social, educational or religious institution on a professional in a creative discipline. Such residencies often have an open-ended or unlimited timeframe.

The other meaning is an artist granted workspace and sometimes living space in an institution for a period of time. These residencies sometimes carry stipends or grants, and there may be other conditions, such as the obligation to create a special work, or a final performance. These residencies are usually applied for, and are somewhat analogous to internships in the way that they function, the main difference being that internships are generally at an introductory or apprentice level, whereas artists' residencies are usually for persons with established expertise or professional credentials.