Tom Fruin's stained-glass house in Dumbo, New York. Photo: Reka Komoli

Welcome to Staying With Art

Above: A beautiful stained-glass house by Tom Fruin in the Dumbo area of Brooklyn, with Manhattan Bridge in the background (Kolonihavehus, 2010). It represents the kaleidoscope of ‘arts’ to be found in Staying with Art. Photo © 2015, Reka Komoli.

What is staying With Art?

Staying With Art is a project to bring together AirBnB hosts who are artists, writers, or performers.

AirBnB and arts hosts

People who follow an artistic discipline often have to face a dilemma – to sacrifice art to get a day-job and earn a decent wage, or sacrifice home comforts to dedicate time to art. It’s great if you can get a job in the arts that pays you enough to live on, but many people in artistic fields have to muddle through with a mixture of causal jobs, artistic gigs, and doing without. AirBnB enables some people in this situation to add another source of income to the portfolio without having to sacrifice huge chunks of creative time.

History of this group

At the end of 2013 I set up a Group in AirBnB called Artists, Writers, and Performers. My idea was to provide a forum for prospective guests to find hosts who are active in one or another artistic field, and for hosts themselves to network with each other. At the time, I was a writer depending on AirBnB for my survival, and I thought it might be nice to reach out to others in a similar situation. I expected that there might be, say, twenty-four other people who would join. I certainly did not expect twenty-four thousand to join, which is what happened!

Unfortunately, the web software provided by AirBnB for the Groups was inadequate for such large groups. Both the discussion page and the list of members were so long, it was impossible to scroll to the bottom; and the rudimentary search function stopped working; and there was never a function for searching by geography or by art. So, Reka Komoli and I set up a prototype of some web software that would solve these problems. The problem then was to get the thousands of AirBnB hosts in the Group into the new system. I asked members to send me their details, and about a thousand did, but often incompletely, and then we faced the task of manually entering the details, and the whole process ground to a halt as other pressures on time made it impossible to spend hours every day transcribing host details.

No more AirBnB Groups!

But now … AirBnB have announced that they will shut down and delete all Groups on February 25, 2016. I think the Artists, Writers, and Performers Group is too good to discard, so I am prompted to action …

The birth of ‘Staying With Art’

  • I have set up a Twitter handle (@StayingWithArt) and I am inviting all members of this group to follow this handle. Then we can at least stay in touch!
  • I am also inviting hosts to post a link to their AirBnB page, with a hashtag indicating their artistic field, for example #stayingwithpainting or #stayingwithdance. This provides a very basic way to search for hosts with particular interests. You can put more than one hashtag in. For example, I would put “@stayingwithart Peter & Reka hosting again soon #StayingWithWriting #StayingWithPhotography”. (I’m the writer, Reka’s the photographer. But we’re not hosting at the moment as we’re travelling.)
  • I have also set up a blog (this one:, which will hold general information, reviews of the works of AirBnB hosts in the group, notices of upcoming events pertaining to hosts in the group, and links to hosts’ web sites. In the ‘events’ section, I hope to put theatrical and musical shows, art exhibitions, gigs, and so on, that involve members of the group.
  • Soon(ish), we will have the all-singing, all-dancing map-based web interface online!

Who is this for?

This is only for AirBnB hosts who are sharing their main homes with guests. It is not for businesses who are running large numbers of separate properties. And it is only for hosts who actively pursue an artistic field in a fairly serious way. Hanging a few pictures on the wall doesn’t count; but running a public gallery while hosting on AirBnB is what we are interested in. Both professionals and serious amateurs are welcome, but doing a few doodles on the weekend does not cut the mustard. Anything that would normally be classed as ‘artistic’ is good: oil painting, writing short stories, ballet, burlesque, bodypainting, acting, poetry, murals, performance art, running an art gallery or theatre space … It does not include cooking, hairdressing, decorating, or living within a few miles of a museum.

Lots of people have tried to join the group who happen to live in a nice place and think it would be relaxing and inspiring for creative people. Sorry, that doesn’t count: the group is for hosts who are themselves artistically creative. Sorry if this seems hard. I have had to delete several really lovely hosts in gorgeous homes because they just don’t meet the simple criteria above. (Hey, you can always start your own group …!)


I plan to visit  members of the group and post reviews of their artistic work in the blog. (This is not a review of the accommodation, which is AirBnB’s prerogative, just the artistic work.) Reka is a professional photographer and will be coming with me to take pictures. These will be hosts I can easily reach, starting with London, including a short visit to Paris soon, and a longer visit to New York in April, and other places as we travel around.) (FYI Some of my earlier, non-AirBnB art reviews: Mr Smith, Angelo MuscoCompagnie Carbabosse, Anne-Francoise Couloumy, Alban, Light Attendance.)

As I cannot visit all 24,000 members, I will be welcoming proposals from any published writers in the group who want to do some reviews to be posted here on the blog.

  • Please Follow @StayingWithArt on Twitter and post with your AirBnB link and your hashtags (#StayingWith…).
  • Let me know if you would like to be reviewed in this blog; or if you would like to post reviews.
  • Let me know of any upcoming events relating to group members.

18 thoughts on “Welcome to Staying With Art”

    1. Hello Nadita,
      Thanks for your message. You can subscribe to the Blog in two places:
      (a) The link at the bottom of the side-bar, under the heading “SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG VIA EMAIL”
      (b) The tick-box “Notify me of new posts by email” underneath the Comment box.
      Let me know if this doesn’t work!

  1. Thanks Peter for this great idea! I too have found Air B&B a lifesaver since I recently returned to South Africa after teaching art in China for a year. It is allowing me to start focusing on my art rather than stressing about how to pay the rent and have met such lovely people, although in time it would be wonderful to be able to create some kind of AirB&B artists travel exchange? Unsure what you mean by a “published writer”? I have written art reviews for South African newspapers, wrote a blog while I was in China for a year and have also produced educational text books but wouldn’t label myself that? If I pass the test – would love to also help visit fellow artists and write reviews. Will also be tavelling in Spain, Ireland and the UK in June and July. regards Sue

    1. Hi Sue,
      Many thanks for your message. Sounds like you’d pass the Reviewers Test with flying colours. Would you be able to send me a link to your blog, or scan of a sample of your writing, please?

  2. Hi, I couldn’t find those subscribe places on my phone. Would love to subscribe. Here is my email. Thanks and good luck with your great work

    1. Do you see three short horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner of the phone screen? Click on them and scroll down, and the subscription box should be visible. Anyway, I have added your email address as a subscriber.

      Thanks for your support

  3. Hi

    Love the idea and I have Twitter use and management on my radar as a goal this spring, so it’s great timing for me and thanks for all the set up work and thought.
    However, I am a textile artist, I make large stitched textile collages, (and am in a genre often know as art quilts though I don’t like it, since anytime one says quilts, people want to tell you about their wonderful quilt Aunt Mabel made them, or that their granny used to quilt.) There are lots of people who work in this genre, it’s not a tiny splinter. And textiles in general as a fine art medium is a really strong field. Lots of international exhibits, journals,etc.
    Your description of stayingwithartcrafts seems a bit torqued towards crafty doodads, though if I were making traditional be quilts it might be fine. I do also design fabric for my work (digitally, screen printed, hand dyed and painted, etc.) but I don’t make garments. So I respectfully request stayingwitharttextiles or fiers or surface design …. Or just tell where you think I most belong.

    1. Hi Susie,

      “Crafty doodads”! I love American English!

      The classification scheme was very much a compromise to keep the number of tags low.

      Let’s say #StayingWithTextiles?


      1. I have known textile artists like Suzie. The medium of using textiles to do expressive art can be jaw dropping work. I do think (my outside opinion) is #StayingWithTextiles gives credibility and takes a path much further away than ‘arts and crafts’ as hobby art. I also think that hashtag works for puppets.

    2. Hi Susie
      I’m a textile artist too. Actually textiles and mixed media, but I am happy with the expression `textile artist’.
      I’m with you in that my work doesn’t fit neatly into the category of `craft’ since it is non-traditional and concept-based, even political.
      I would prefer the tag stayingwitharttextilearts, since making textiles per se is a very small part of what I do. I think that `textile arts’ might cover all of the art stitchers, and others who create or work mainly with textiles.
      What do you think?
      And Peter, what do you think?

      1. Hi Mary,

        The question is, what would people type in as a search string? Google returns half a million hits for “textile art” so I infer that is reasonably widely known. So, let’s say

        But of course nothing is ever simple in categorising art … I see from your web site that you include ‘found objects’ in your textile creations, so the medium would become ‘textile art with mixed media / found objects’ perhaps? One thing that is clear from this exercise is that the database will need to allow a ‘cloud’ of descriptive terms of varying degrees of relevance, rather than just one simple label.

        BTW I really like your use of little objects such as dolls on the dresses. Did you ever come across the work of the African artist Gérard Quenum? He also uses ‘found dolls’ in his art installations, but he chars them in fire to blacken them. The story is that Western charities send large numbers of old dolls to Africa for kids to play with, but they are all white dolls as black dolls hardly exist. So one of Quenum’s points is to blacken the dolls in fire to make them represent African children, and then place them in symbolic, conceptual roles. I think the humble doll is a semiotically powerful object for artists!


  4. Greetings,

    I don’t use twitter, however I would like to be involved.

    I am renovating 3 properties at the same time and will have by the end of 2016, 10 Airbnb spaces, 5 of which are in or next to my 2 private art galleries / theaters (performance spaces). Guests experience art…during their stay :)

    I am also working on two musical theatrical pieces with “one of a kind” musical instruments.

    It would be nice to somehow post pictures to more vividly communicate.

    Thank you for your efforts


  5. Dear Peter and Reka,
    I did express my excitement on the last airbnb group for your efforts of bringing this clan more together. I am a multifaceted creative and networking and promoting other musician, artists and writers has always been a passion of mine also a win win. Admittedly I have always juggled various businesses with squeezing the inspirational ideas and works into the spaces between. With all that said, hosting travelers and traveling ourselves has changed the trajectory of where my personal work is going. It is still a matter of acting on the best ideas. That is why I support this group so much as we need each other to be able to fill our inspirational vessels. Guess I need to get with the program and set up a twitter account. I joking told a friend a few years ago that I draw the line at tweeting…Just keeping up with the online part of booking guests and then preparing house for them stretches how much new stuff gets produced but we will all stay the course. I like to write as well…besides a couple hundred songs, my self published book is called “Songwriters Just Make Stuff Up” by Kahish/ amazon books I will look over the hashtags…I probably come under 3.
    Our home we host on airbnb is and our friends made this video of it: The floor art, furniture art and oil paintings are mine.

    1. Note the company that helps us manage when we are traveling is listed on that video so I understand if you need to delete it. The furniture has since been updated anyway.

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