Arc artist residency is housed in the former pilgrim hostel of Romainmôtier Abbey. The monastery, founded by Romanus of Condat, after whom it was named, is a Cluniac site.
The Romanesque abbey church, the oldest in Switzerland, was built by Cluny monks in the 10th century on the ruins of an earlier monastery. The plans were identical to those of the Cluny Church in France. The two-storey narthex was added in the 12th century and decorated with murals designed to enlighten the faithful. The central nave features a richly coloured Gothic barrel vault. During the Reformation, the dozen or so monks who lived there were forced to abandon Romainmôtier and the property became a Protestant place of worship. As a result, decorations were hidden underneath whitewashed walls, statues were decapitated and the altars destroyed. Over the course of the 20th century, the abbey was excavated and renovated twice. The Abbey's huge contemporary organ is played on many occasions.
The building is inscribed in the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National and Regional importance.
The Arc artist residency is owned by Migros Culture Percentage, which purchased the house in 1981 and renovated it between 1991 and 1994.
Veronika Sellier was the director from 1996 to 2014. During her tenure, L’arc – the French abbreviation of its full title “Littérature et atelier de réflexion contemporaine” – was open to writers and artists for laboratories, workshops, symposia and debates. L’arc hosted an array of interdisciplinary events that combined different arts forms, such as literature, theatre, dance, music, film and new media, and provided the setting for a series of public concerts, lectures and try-outs. It has also published several books.