Artist-in-Residence Programs Foster Engagement

As guests increasingly seek experiences strongly linked with their destination of choice, it has become more important for hotels to embrace their local communities. This often means spotlighting the best the area has to offer, be it wine, coffee, or architecture. Increasingly, hotels are also highlighting local art as a means to drawn in guests and community members alike.

Artist-in-residence programs are becoming a popular way for hotels to offer experiences and exchanges that guests would not be able to find elsewhere. Take the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in New Orleans, for example, where an Art Institute of Chicago student, T.J. Kiser, is living at the hotel for a month at no charge so he can explore and create in a new atmosphere. And the Hotel Phillips in Kansas City, Mo., where fifth artist-in-residence Megan Lou Gallant has the opportunity to work in the hotel’s in-house studio and showcase her art throughout the property. Gallant says the program has created “a sense of family and a real sense of community inside the hotel.”

At the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wis., which is home to the largest Victorian art collection of any hotel in the world, abstract expressionist painter Pamela Anderson creates colorful pieces with unconventional tools, such as mops and oversized brushes. The Pfister first introduced its artist-in-residence program in 2009. “The best way to keep the Pfister’s Victorian artwork collection alive is to tie the hotel’s collection to the community and their love for the art,” explains Joe Khairallah, COO of Marcus Hotels & Resorts, the hotel’s owner/operator.

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The Pfister’s art studio became a social hub in the hotel, as guests stopped by to view works being created in real-time by talented artists.

Through these programs, guests oftentimes also have a chance to connect with artists during gallery nights, events, and workshops. “The artists become part of our effort to weave the hotel into the community,” Khairallah says.

An artist-in-residence program can also drum up a lot of positive buzz on social media. For instance, Old No. 77’s Kiser will share his artistic adventures in New Orleans and preview works he’s creating on the hotel’s Instagram account, and The Pfister boosts traffic to its Facebook page and website every year when it encourages the public to vote for the next artist-in-residence.

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