Worktraders were a vital part of keeping Art Monastery Italia functioning day to day and are important members of our art monastic community. The Worktrade program was designed to be an economical way for travelers and like-minded souls to participate in Art Monastery Italia while saving money and exploring the Italian countryside. In exchange for a small fee and working with us 6 days a week, worktraders received a place to sleep and a chance to be an important part of keeping Art Monastery operations running smoothly. As an invaluable part of the team, worktraders did a variety of jobs, including cooking, cleaning, gardening, data entry, grocery shopping, car maintenance, and various forms of support for art projects and performances. Worktraders ate meals with the Artmonks, meet visiting artists and other Worktraders, and often had the chance to participate in performances or art installations.
Worktraders were full members of the residential community, which meant attending daily check-ins and other mandatory meetings, attending two communal meals per day, doing meal prep or meal clean once daily, and working an average of 5 hours/day, 6 days/week and paying €50/week to cover the cost of food. Worktraders sleep outdoors in their own tent (or rent one of ours for an additional €5/week) and enjoy three solid meals/day. Travel expenses not included.
Below, please find additional information about what it was like to participate as a Worktrader at AM Italia:
About the Community
We are a group of community-minded artists who are committed to exploring the sustainability and efficiency of communal monastic living to art-making and the creative process. The monastic community is often hosted by local Italians who offer us the time and space to focus our energies on the creation of art: music, performance, devised theater, site specific installation, and visual art.
We ask our volunteers to agree to a minimum of 5 hours of work per day, 6 days a week, in exchange for a place to tent, the possibility to participate in art projects, and participation as an active member of our community. We also ask our volunteers to chip in €50/week merely to cover the costs for food, transportation, utilities, internet, office supplies, etc. We hope one day to offer a volunteer program that is cost-neutral on both ends, however as we are still a start up non-profit, we have to do everything possible just to cover costs.
Dates, Availability, and Sleeping Arrangements
We accept volunteers on a rolling basis for stays March through December, with stays between two weeks and three months. You are responsible for bringing your own tent to sleep in (or rent ours), sleeping bags, bath towels, and toiletries. Also keep in mind that if you’re visiting during the off season (October – May), Italy can be bitterly cold (including sometimes snow in December), so bring extra clothing and bedding just in case.
“At the monastery, every single part of me was being scintillated, like a really happy sea anemone… There is not specifically art in one place. It’s the way you decorate the house, the way you cook meals together, the conversations that you have, it’s everywhere… your life is art, and that’s a revelation.” - Lizzy, worktrader 2011
What It’s Like to Volunteer at the Art Monastery
Participation in art projects is not guaranteed, but we do try to include everyone’s skills as often as possible. We are ourselves a community of highly self-motivated artists, however the reality of doing this day to day often means long hours in the office to support that artmaking. If you’re interested in making art while you’re here, we welcome and encourage you to use the time outside of your 5 hours to pursue your own creative skills.
What are the Days Like?
The working language here is English, but Italian speaking skills are a huge bonus. This is a part-time position (5 hours/day, plus a day-and-a-half off per week). From our volunteers, we may ask from your 5 hours for help in the office (an opportunity to develop administrative arts skills, everything from data entry to marketing, coffee cup cleaning to web design) to household/community chores (building projects, cooking, cleaning, ground maintenance, garden tending, bonus points for experience in car maintenance!) to help with the art project we’re creating that week (set building, prop making, gear carrying, art installation prep, etc.). Every week at the Art Monastery is totally different, so it’s quite hard to predict what you might be doing while you’re here, but it is almost guaranteed not to be boring! Depending on your interest and experience, we try to adjust the work to what people like to do and are good at….however on some days, it still means that someone with a Masters degree may have to move the pile of firewood or clean the toilet! In your off-hours, you are welcome to relax, hike, explore nearby towns, or explore private artistic pursuits.
All worktraders, along with Artmonks-in-Residence, interns, and staff, immediately become part of the monastic intentional community. We share lunch and dinner every day, participate in cooking, cleaning, and chores, as well as other community activities, and explore elements of contemporary monasticism as a group (meditation, ritual, etc.). Although we are a secular community, we are deeply interested in alternative spiritual practices and we are seeking others ready to engage art and spirit in similarly profound ways. All participants should be actively lit up by all of these elements. Our vision is that time at the Art Monastery will challenge each individual creatively, spiritually, and inter-personally; that the community will deeply investigate art monasticism; and that this process will yield professional, high-quality products.
Join us and co-create a beautiful experience!
The Art Monastery Project is a unique place, an idealistic start-up that is an exciting experiment. The ideal worktrader is open-minded, kind-hearted, and enthusiastic about the adventure of living with a bunch of creative, big-spirited, hard-working Americans in the Italian countryside. It’s going to be great. Trust us.
As of Fall 2013, AM Italia (and thus the Worktrade program) is closed. To stay updated on all upcoming Art Monastery news and activities, please sign-up for our newsletter.