Artist Residency Initiative Launching On Governors Island For Artists From Harlem To Hollis

For the 2020 season, The Trust for Governors Island (The Trust), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and 18 cultural organizations with space on Governors Island will join forces to host free residency programs.

The residency is for approximately 115 artists and cultural practitioners that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, helping to combat the devastating impact of the pandemic on the NYC cultural landscape.

The Governors Island Residency Initiative will reposition indoor spaces that were historically used for exhibitions and public programming as residencies or workspaces for artists and other members of the City’s cultural community from August to October this year.


Open to artists, writers, cultural workers and creative practitioners living and working across the five boroughs, the initiative will provide free, temporary space to work in LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island and more than 20 historic houses in the Island’s Nolan Park and Colonels Row districts, overseen by a diverse group of cultural and educational nonprofits. After postponing all indoor public programs, organizations are pivoting their spaces to participate in this initiative and accommodate artists in need.

New York City’s cultural community is undergoing an unprecedented level of disruption, with many experiencing either a loss of income or unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists and other cultural workers may be unable to access or afford dedicated space to work, think, research, write, plan, rehearse and otherwise further their creative practices—an acute issue in many U.S. cities even before the pandemic.

“Right now, creative solutions are needed to help the artistic community get back to work after months of disruption and shutdown,” said Clare Newman, President, and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “By partnering with the Island’s vibrant community of cultural organizations and LMCC, we can make better use of available space on the Island, while helping to support the artists that have played such an important role in shaping our history, values, and identity. We look forward to welcoming an exciting group of artists and creatives for the rest of the summer and fall.”

All participating organizations will manage their own selection processes and oversee their own independent residency programs in their spaces, including LMCC, which will launch an open call application process on Thursday, July 23, 2020, through LMCC.net.

“LMCC, the Trust for Governors Island, and the Island’s community of cultural organizations are uniquely positioned to share space, resources, and programmatic opportunities for valuable cultural workers,” said Lili Chopra, LMCC’s Executive Director, Artistic Programs. “We are united in partnership to create an initiative that serves artists in our five boroughs in a just, equitable, and sustainable way.”

“LMCC is committed to alleviating the unprecedented level of disruption to artists’ practices, loss of income and employment, by providing them space and support during the COVID-19 pandemic,” commented Diego S. Segalini, LMCC’s Executive Director, Finance & Administration.

“Governors Island is a truly magical place that provides the space and time for artistic production and research not possible in other parts of the City,” said Meredith Johnson, VP of Arts and Culture at The Trust for Governors Island, “The cultural organizations that call the Island home shape the cultural landscape of New York in myriad ways, and as we face one of our most uncertain moments in recent history we are grateful to have such a dedicated group of partners to mobilize efforts and pool our resources in support of the City’s cultural future.”

Once artists are in their spaces, LMCC, the Trust, and participating organizations will come together to share resources and organize virtual gatherings for artists working on the Island.

As a diverse set of institutions—spanning the arts, sciences, culture and the environment—organizations participating in the Governors Island Residency Initiative are guided by a shared set of values and priorities that will inform their individual approaches to outreach and the selection of residency participants:

  • Serving artists and cultural workers in need of workspace in the wake of COVID-19;
  • Ensuring that artists and cultural practitioners of diverse racial identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations from across NYC have access to this opportunity and are being represented in the Initiative;
  • Seeking out artists and cultural workers whose practices give back to, or aim to make positive change within, the NYC cultural community and/or the City at large;
  • Seeking out artists and cultural workers whose practices address important socio-political issues, including but not limited to public health, gender discrimination, immigration, racial equity, climate change and environmental justice;
  • Seeking out artists and cultural workers whose practices will benefit from working on Governors Island as a public space serving diverse audiences.

Participating organizations include:

  • 4heads
  • American Indian Community House
  • ArtCrawl Harlem
  • Beam Center
  • BronxArtSpace
  • Climate Museum
  • Endangered Language Alliance
  • Harvestworks
  • LMCC
  • NARS Foundation
  • New Art Dealers Alliance
  • NY Virtual Volcano Observatory
  • NYC Audubon
  • Pratt Institute School of Architecture
  • Shandaken Projects
  • Swale
  • Triangle Arts Association
  • West Harlem Art Fund
  • Works on Water

The Trust for Governors Island oversees a vibrant arts and cultural program, inviting a range of organizations to present exhibitions and programs in the Island’s historic houses each season while presenting impactful public art projects to diverse audiences. Artist residencies and studio programs have been part of the Island’s cultural fabric since it first opened to the public in 2005.

Current and past on-Island residencies include those by LMCC, Shandaken Projects, 4heads, Triangle Arts Association, MoCADA, Pioneer Works, Syracuse University, SVA, Works on Water and more. In 2019, LMCC opened its Arts Center at Governors Island, the first permanent home for artists and audiences on Governors Island that serves as a gathering place and incubator for new works.

“We’re so glad that, in response to these circumstances, NADA and Governors Island could continue to provide unique opportunities for artists with this new residency initiative,” said Heather Hubbs, Executive Director of the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA).

“As an artist-run organization our mission has always been to support creative endeavors, by connecting artists with the public and by providing spaces for making and presenting art,” said Nicole Laemmle and Jack Robinson, Co-Founders, 4heads. “Since COVID-19, artists have found themselves in a place of particular uncertainty and our mission feels even more pressing. We are delighted to continue our 13-year collaboration with Governors Island and to offer our community a safe environment in which to produce new work through our expanded residency program. Creativity is the elixir of life and it’s essential that we all continue to find ways to support it and to keep culture alive.”

“We’re grateful to the Trust and LMCC for this important initiative to provide resources to NYC’s creative community in a difficult time, and delighted to be part of it,” said Miranda Massie, Director of The Climate Museum.

“We are proud to be able to join the artist residency programming initiated by Governors Island with LMCC, especially when the need for free work space is greater than ever,” said Mary Mattingly, artist and founder of Swale floating food forest and Swale Lab at Nolan Park. “We are re-launching our Artist and Ecologist Residency Program, giving participants ample space to make their work which is essential to changing hearts and minds about public land and food systems in the city.”

“The West Harlem Art Fund is pleased to offer artists of color and NYC dancers a respite at our space in Nolan Park,” said Savona Bailey McClain, Executive Director, West Harlem Art Fund.

“The West Harlem Art Fund is pleased to offer artists of color and NYC dancers a respite at our space in Nolan Park,” said Savona Bailey McClain, Executive Director, West Harlem Art Fund.

“Works on Water is pleased to be participating in the expanded residency program on Governors Island this season,” said Eve Mosher of Works on Water. “We applaud these efforts to support artists who are being impacted by coronavirus and do not have access to studio space for dreaming, creating and imagining. We will need creative thinking to continue to survive and thrive in a world of converging challenges.”

“BronxArtSpace (BAS) invites Bronx-based artists to apply for its Artist Residency program,” said Sabine Schumacher, Director of BronxArtSpace. “The program responds to a crucial need for studio space and professional development opportunities for emerging Bronx artists.”

“Shandaken Projects is proud to complement the second cycle of our free, year-round residency Shandaken: Governors Island with four additional studios as part of the COVID-19 relief program,” said Nicholas Weist, Director of Shandaken Projects. “We have seen how artists’ practices are transformed just by working on Governors Island, but these new gifts of time and space will be absolutely crucial for those who have been adversely affected by the pandemic.”

“The road to achieving this residency was challenging for all involved,” said Ulysses Williams, Executive Director of ArtCrawl Harlem. “However, the NYC Arts Community is resilient and when we were given the green light ArtCrawl was determined to fulfill its commitment to offer artists a space to create and celebrate Harlem’s impressive history. We are proud to present: ArtCrawl Harlem Boundaries and Connection: The Other Side of Us and host artists Ricky Day and DeMarcus DeGaugney.”

“The road to achieving this residency was challenging for all involved,” said Ulysses Williams, Executive Director of ArtCrawl Harlem. “However, the NYC Arts Community is resilient and when we were given the green light ArtCrawl was determined to fulfill its commitment to offer artists a space to create and celebrate Harlem’s impressive history. We are proud to present: ArtCrawl Harlem Boundaries and Connection: The Other Side of Us and host artists Ricky Day and DeMarcus DeGaugney.”

The Trust for Governors Island is the 501(c)-3 not-for-profit organization created by the City of New York and charged with the planning, redevelopment and ongoing operations of 150 acres of Governors Island. The Trust’s mission is to transform Governors Island into a vibrant resource for New York City, making the Island a destination with extraordinary public open space, as well as educational, not-for-profit and commercial facilities. For more information, please visit www.govisland.org.

Founded as Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), LMCC serves, connects and makes space for artists and community. Since 1973, LMCC has been the champion of independent artists in New York City and the cultural life force of Lower Manhattan. LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island is a creative incubator featuring artist residency programs, and a space for exhibitions and public engagement. Work developed and presented at the Arts Center at Governors Island focuses on questions of ecology, sustainability, and resilience. For more information, please visit www.lmcc.net

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