Banditto Art Residency: too good to be true?

Banditto Art Residency: too good to be true?


I received an email a while back from someone named Roy Ockers who mentioned having emailed me prior to that about an Artist Residency in Tuscany, but it didn’t sound familiar, and I figured maybe it was something that I had overlooked or had ended up in my spam folder. There was a link to a press release, which announced the winners for the 2021 Summer residency, and described the situation as an “exceptional artist-in-residency opportunity providing benefits for envelope-pushing artists of all disciplines. This program affords the winner the opportunity to create work in a stunningly inspiring environment situated in one of the most picturesque villages in Tuscany.” That sounds pretty good to me, and when I watch the video of where this artist residency is location, “stunning” is an understatement – check out this gorgeous video showing their location in Montefollonico, which lies about halfway between Sienna and Perugia:

Then I received another email yesterday, again from Roy Ockers, who is listed as the Founder of Banditto Residency, and also notes him as an art collector. I can’t find any history of when the Banditto Residency began, and while there is mention of a gallery, I can’t find any info on the gallery’s location, and only see an online shop for art prints.

So, let’s get back to the residency. One can apply for the residency, and there’s a $49 application fee charged for this. I always hesitate with things like this, as I often hear about and get invitations to “juried art shows,” where there’s an application fee to be judged for inclusion in the show. It always seems a bit questionable to me how much exposure the juried art show actually gives the artists that are included, versus the application fee providing a means of revenue for the people hosting the show.

In the case of the Banditto Residency program, the benefits for the winner seem pretty amazing to me, as described by Banditto:

  • A 10 day residency in our Galleria in beautiful Montefollonico, Tuscany (Italy)
  • This includes: flights, rental car and 10 days accommodation in our galleria
  • Welcome dinner with art collector and owner of Banditto Art
  • Online exhibition hosted by Galleria Banditto
  • Editorial coverage in Banditto Mag; a collectors magazine
  • $200(USD) cash prize

That’s a pretty amazing experience, I don’t really care who sees my art if I can do all of that at the location in the video above. But there’s still something that rubs me the wrong way about this – how many people are transfixed by this prize and spend $49 to apply? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling this a scam, but it seems more like a business model than anything else. If you get enough people paying $49 to apply, you can have the cash flow to fund this experience for one single winner and you still have overflow revenue as income. Is that what’s going on here? Does anyone out there have any experience with this operation to have comments to share? I find it interesting that a Google search for this brings up the result “people also ask: who is Roy Ockers, is Banditto Art Residency real?” It would seems there’s plenty of other people out there who also wonder if this is too good to be true. You can find a number of interesting details by doing your own digging further into these search results, so my point is that this blog post is not meant to make a judgment one way or another, but rather to share a discussion about this type of business model in the art world. Sadly, the “pay to play” model has been around for a long time, and as an artist, I’ve just never heard many situations where these opportunities elevate the artist into a career-enhancing situation. On the other hand, one could say, Banditto’s application fee is like a $49 lottery ticket for a prize worth several thousand dollars, and if you want to play those odds, go for it – but I think I’ll take a pass.

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