Highlighting Our Partners Who Elevate Black Artists and Voices

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Governors Island strives to be a cultural destination for all New Yorkers, bringing together partners, artists and voices that reflect the rich diversity of the City itself. Since the Island opened to the public, Black voices have led and contributed to the Island’s rich arts and cultural programs. In honor of Black History Month, we’re highlighting some of our arts and culture partner organizations that make it their mission to elevate the work and voices of Black artists and cultural practitioners.

African Film Festival, Inc.

Kids participate in a dance activity at AFF’s Family Day Celebration in 2014

African Film Festival, Inc. seeks to increase understanding and appreciation of African cultures through the medium of film. AFF hosts a variety of programs across New York and the globe to increase visibility and recognition for African artists. Every year since 2008, AFF has hosted their Family Day Celebration festival here (pictured above and in the header image), typically on Colonels Row, though the 13th annual installment was held in Nolan Park in 2020 in socially distanced form. Visitors have enjoyed film screenings, storytelling performances, dance and Double Dutch lessons, arts and crafts workshops, and delicious food and beverages from across the African diaspora.

See AFF’s upcoming programs online, including virtual screenings and more from this year’s currently ongoing 28th Annual New York African Film Festival.

ArtCrawl Harlem

ArtCrawl Harlem artist in residence Demarcus McGaughey in his Colonels Row studio. Photo by Timothy Schenck

ArtCrawl Harlem supports and promotes Harlem’s arts community and history through dynamic arts and culture programs as well as educational initiatives, primarily spotlighting emerging Harlem artists, galleries and cultural institutions. ACH joined the Governors Island Residency Initiative in 2020, providing studio space to three artists as part of their residency program, Boundaries and Connections: The Other Side of Us, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, offering virtual and limited in-person studio tours and artist talks to visitors.

Learn more about ArtCrawl Harlem.

Art Force 5

Art Force 5 invites day camps for arts and crafts on Governors Island

Art Force 5, a program for kids and teens founded at Alfred University, promotes creativity over conflict through art workshops and community-based art. Art Force 5 highlights diverse histories through their arts programs, like Drawn to Diversity, which examines the history of equality and civil rights movements through comic books, and the Women’s Empowerment Draft, which introduces notable women from throughout history in the style of a pro-sports draft. In their programs on Governors Island, Art Force 5 has invited young visitors to imagine themselves as superheroes through crafting projects, to learn about the Harlem Renaissance by creating tiles that became part of a public artwork marking its 100th anniversary, and more.

Read about Art Force 5’s work and learn about their upcoming 2021 Women’s Empowerment Draft this March.

BronxArtSpace

BronxArtSpace is a nonprofit gallery promoting the innovative work of underrepresented and emerging Bronx-based artists. Having planned an exhibition addressing environmental issues on Governors Island last year, BronxArtSpace pivoted their Colonels Row space to join the Governors Island Residency Initiative. Their artists in residence used the opportunity to continue their practices and participate in cross-organization programs, like the live-streamed artist talk series Hey Neighbor.

Check out BronxArtSpace’s website to see exhibitions from the past ten years.

Escaping Time

Exhibiting artist Jairo Pastoressa, left, speaks to visitors at the Escaping Time house on Colonels Row

Escaping Time showcases and sells art by currently and formerly incarcerated individuals to shed light on the humanity and creativity that exists behind prison walls. In doing so, Escaping Time also seeks to bring attention to the epidemic of unjust incarceration of Black people and people of color in the United States. Their exhibitions aim to impart a more nuanced view of the criminal justice system and the need for society to invest in programs to better prepare prisoners to successfully reenter society. On Governors Island, Escaping Time has presented exhibitions of paintings, ceramics, sculptures, and public art installations.

Learn more about Escaping Time and see works currently for sale.

MoCADA

Creator in Residence Julian Joseph Kyle at MoCADA House in Nolan Park

The Museum of African Diasporan Arts presents exhibitions, community programs and educational initiatives centered in social justice to engage audiences in dialogues on subjects relating to the African Diaspora. In 2019, MoCADA invited seven creators to participate in a newly expanded residency program in Nolan Park on Governors Island. Visitors were invited to exhibitions of these creators’ work as well as a wide variety of public programs, including readings, screenings, dance parties and PROGRAMS by the Free Black Women’s Library, a mobile trading library that celebrates the voices of Black women in literature.

Head to MoCADA’s website and explore MoCADA Digital, a wealth of virtual programs including videos, podcasts, music, writing and more.

West Harlem Art Fund

A workshop on natural dyes for artists at WHAF’s Visual Muze residency program

West Harlem Art Fund presents arts and culture programming that emphasizes contemporary art’s relationship to history and heritage, often centering the African diaspora and its connections to communities and cultures across the globe. On Governors Island, WHAF has presented exhibitions of works by Black artists, hosted workshops for artists, engaged visitors in discussions and studio visits, and more. In 2020, WHAF’s Visual Muze artist residency program joined the Governors Island Residency Initiative, offering studio space in Nolan Park to 10 artists and groups who spent the season producing new works, building community with each other and neighboring organizations, and building and planting a garden in front of the house.

Learn more about West Harlem Art Fund and see virtual galleries and selected videos on their website.

Welcome Governors Island’s newest working dog, Leader!

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Introducing the newest member of Governors Island’s team of working dogs, Leader!

Did you know that a pack of dedicated dogs works to keep Governors Island free of Canada geese year-round? Besides damaging the Island’s landscapes, the geese can be aggressive towards humans and their waste can lead to the spread of invasive species.

After trying many different methods of goose control, working dogs proved to be the most sustainable, humane, and adorable solution. Herding dogs like border collies make great guardians against flocks of geese. Their natural herding instincts urge them to control, but never to harm, large groups of geese, effectively chasing the birds away. While herding dogs make for a powerful goose deterrent, geese are persistent and so our pooches must remain ever vigilant.The dogs take turns staying overnight on the Island, typically making the rounds (with a human caretaker in tow) at about dawn and dusk daily.

Leader in the snow at Liggett Terrace

Governors Island has ‘employed’ these canine coworkers since 2014, beginning our first working dog, Max. The pack has grown over the years with Quinn, Chip and Aspen joining the ranks before we most recently welcomed Leader.Born last July, the seven-month-old Leader brings the pack to a formidable five furry friends. Like all of our working dogs, Leader joined us from the Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue, which works to rescue collies and place them in homes best suited to their individual needs.

So far, Leader is fitting right in with the rest of the crew and is now learning to use his herding abilities to chase away geese. He loves exploring Governors Island and playing in the snow. See how Leader and all of our working dogs spend their days by following them on Instagram at @giworkingdogs!

From left: Quinn, Chip, Max and Leader

Highlights from the Harbor: Governors Island’s 2020 Year In Review

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Picnic Point. Photo by Sarma & Co. Photography

The Trust for Governors Island and Friends of Governors Island are pleased to release our 2020 Year in Review! Despite the challenges of 2020, we’re proud to have delivered on this mission last year as Governors Island continued to be a beloved destination and essential resource for all New Yorkers. Our 2020 Year In Review and the post below detail some of last year's biggest achievements from Governors Island and our community of tenants and partner organizations.

In 2020, Governors Island provided vital access to open space when New Yorkers needed it more than ever. The Island opened with new health and safety measures in July to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors from 99% of New York’s neighborhoods. Shifting Brooklyn ferry service to Red Hook and launching targeted outreach allowed us to reach a wider audience of visitors, 40% of whom utilized free ferries. Our Horticulture team and a record-setting number of volunteers cared for the Island’s 120+ acres of open space, while special events later in the season enlivened the Island with free music and dance performances and more.

The Island made space for artists who needed it while providing visitors a venue to safely engage with public art. The Trust for Governors Island, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and 19 other arts and culture organizations launched the Governors Island Residency Initiative last year, a new program that rededicated indoor spaces to provide studios to over 120 artists. The Initiative produced new works, inspired collaboration, and offered a critical resource for many whose practices were disrupted by COVID-19. Visitors were also able to experience the Island’s stunning public artworks at a time when many cultural destinations were closed.

We took significant steps towards our vision of making the Island a year-round destination for New Yorkers. In September, the Trust announced its vision to attract a Center for Climate Solutions. The Island’s year-round tenants including Billion Oyster Project, LMCC and the Urban Assembly NY Harbor School made progress on long-term goals while adapting to the challenges of COVID-19. New opportunities announced last year, supported by ongoing capital improvements, seek to activate the Historic District with more year-round tenancies in arts, culture, science and technology. Four new year-round tenants coming to Nolan Park were just announced: Billion Oyster Project, Beam Center, the Institute for Public Architecture, and Shandaken Projects.

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The Hills. Photo by Timothy Schenck

Thanks for reading. We’re looking forward to welcoming you back in the spring. For more info, see our full 2020 Year In Review.

Trust for Governors Island Announces Four New Year-Round Arts, Educational, Environmental and Cultural Tenants

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February 2, 2021 (New York, NY) – The Trust for Governors Island today announced four new tenants are taking space in the Island’s historic district. Billion Oyster Project, Shandaken Projects, the Institute for Public Architecture and Beam Center were designated as tenants following a public RFP process seeking artistic, cultural, environmental and educational tenants released in March 2020. Tenants announced today will occupy three buildings in the historic Nolan Park area of Governors Island on a year-round basis.

Today’s announcement represents a key milestone as part of the Trust’s ongoing strategy and vision to reactivate the Island’s nearly 1.3M SF of historic buildings, and an important step in moving towards making the Island a year-round public destination with expanded educational, non-profit and commercial tenancies. Joining a community of year-round tenants including the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, the four non-profit tenants announced today will help reactivate nearly 11,500 SF of space within the Island’s Historic District.

“New Yorkers already enjoy Governors Island in the warmer months – and the beautiful open space that makes this island so special is here to stay. But taking full advantage of our city’s space means getting more from Governors Island year-round. Today’s announcement does just that,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “These organizations will shape the island’s future as an arts, cultural, and scientific destination for generations, and I can’t wait to see how they use their space.”

“One of the many things that makes Governors Island such a unique amenity for New York City is the vibrant mix of arts, educational, leisure and scientific uses that visitors can explore,” said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been. “These new year-round leases further that mix and advance our goal of 24/7/365 activation that will culminate with the climate hub we plan to bring to the Island as a part of the City’s recovery efforts. These four tenants will be a fantastic addition to Governors Island’s cultural ecosystem!”

“With the announcement of new non-profit tenants within Nolan Park, Governors Island is poised to serve as an even greater hub for cultural exploration, research and public programming,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “Already home to a successful hub of artistic and cultural activity during the summer months, the addition of Beam Center, Billion Oyster Project, IPA and Shandaken Projects to the Island’s growing community of year-round tenants represent an exciting milestone for our vision to anchor arts and culture in the Island’s continued growth and restore our treasured historic buildings.”

“Manhattan Community Board 1 is excited to welcome the new, year-round non-profit tenants to Governors Island,” said Tammy Meltzer, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 1. “The Billion Oyster Project, Beam Center, the Institute for Public Architecture and Shandaken Projects will enliven the island with generational diversity and equity. We are delighted to see progress towards our mutual goals for year-round tenants, prioritizing activation of the historic buildings and expansion of public programming through incredible art and cultural organizations.”

Today, Nolan Park is home to a successful seasonal cultural program, with nearly two dozen organizations utilizing the historic former military homes as programming space and workspaces for cultural practitioners and artists. Over time, the Trust envisions expanding this successful seasonal model and shifting Nolan Park towards a year-round, multi-tenant campus for cultural research, presentation and public engagement. All tenants announced today will include open hours and programming accessible to Island visitors during its growing public season.

The new tenants announced today include:

  • The Billion Oyster Project (BOP), whose mission is to restore New York Harbor’s oyster population and biodiversity, leverages a robust volunteer program and works with organizations across the City to accomplish their goal. BOP, an existing tenant on the Island and close partner of the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a public high school and the first year-round tenant on Governors Island, will utilize one of two suites in 20 Nolan Park as a mix of offices, meeting rooms, a public exhibition space, a classroom, public programming, and workshop space. The site will be BOP’s primary location and headquarters and will serve as an expansion of their work on Governors Island over the past 10 years.
  • Beam Center is a non-profit organization that empowers youth through ambitious, collaborative project-making in school partnerships, overnight summer experiences, and employment programs. Beam Center will build a Makerspace and Workshop in Building 107 where students, teachers, and visitors to Governors Island will engage in daily hands-on projects in traditional and advanced tools, technologies, and craft. Beam Center participated in the Island’s seasonal cultural program for the first time in 2020, hosting The Lighthouse Artist Residency.
  • The Institute for Public Architecture (IPA) uses design to challenge social and physical inequities in our cities. Their collaborative process involves a focused, place-based design residency and related public programming, developed to engage specialists in the field and engaged members of the public alike. In Building 9, the IPA will offer overnight short-term accommodations and studio workspace for architects, planners, scholars and design students, including an eight-week summer fellowship program with stipend and a five- to ten-month independent study program.
  • Shandaken Projects, an arts organization that has hosted an artist residency program on Governors Island since 2018 and at Storm King Arts Center since 2015, will use its space in Building 9 to operate a printmaking workspace in collaboration with the Hunter College MFA program that will be open to other Governors Island-based arts and cultural organizations. Shandaken will also expand their preexisting, studio-based residency program on the Island to include overnight short-term accommodations for cultural practitioners.


“Billion Oyster Project has been working with The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School and other tenants on Governors Island for almost a decade. We are thrilled to join this fantastic group to continue building a vibrant and restorative community on the Island in the center of New York Harbor,” said Pete Malinowski, Executive Director of Billion Oyster Project.

“This new location on Governors Island enables Beam Center to offer all young New Yorkers a chance to experience and explore collaboration, learning and wonder through the power of making big things together. We are thrilled to join the island’s vibrant creative and cultural community,” said Cassie Broadus-Foote, Beam Center Director of Development and Planning.

“This is a game-changing opportunity for the IPA to fulfill long-held aspirations dating to our founding in 2009, specifically, to establish a residency campus for architecture, planning and design practitioners connected to the urban lab of New York, but within a contemplative immediate setting. We look forward to adding to the vibrancy of the Nolan campus with our robust public presentations, open studios, exhibitions and workshops,” said Jonathan Kirschenfeld, Institute for Public Architecture Founder.

“Inaugurated in 2014, our unique IPA Residency Program has up until now been organized as a ‘mobile,’ neighborhood-based program that offers participants the venue for collaborative research, design work and public programming. The year-round opportunity offered at the Governors Island Block House will allow us to expand upon this eight-week immersive studio by offering 5-to-10-month residencies to practitioners, scholars and students from around the world,” added Nadine Maleh, IPA Acting Executive Director and Board member.

"Shandaken Projects’ new programs in Building 9 will build on two immensely successful cycles of year-round artist residencies on the Island, which delivered free studio space to twelve artists, and many talks, performances, and artist projects to the public. We are looking forward to deepening our relationship with the Island and its non-profit partners, and offering a unique resource to their creative constituents in collaboration with the Hunter MFA Program," said Nicholas Weist, Shandaken Projects Director.

“These tenancies will fill the Island’s beloved historic district with new life and activity,” said Merritt Birnbaum, Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island. “To see artists, teachers and students of all ages occupying these buildings year-round, engaging with each other and with the public, is an enormous step for Governors Island’s deepening role as a resource for our entire city.”

Located within the Governors Island Historic District, Nolan Park is a collection of twenty 19th century houses, formerly utilized as residences by military officers and their families during the Island’s nearly 200-year use as a U.S. Army and, later, U.S. Coast Guard Base. Limited spaces within Nolan Park were made available through a Request for Proposals issued in March 2020. Proposals were evaluated based on alignment with the Trust’s vision to infuse the Island with dynamic cultural programming, emphasis on public participation, and more. This RFP represents the first time buildings within Nolan Park will be utilized year-round since the U.S. Coast Guard departed the Island in 1996. As part of the RFP, the Trust will undertake a gut renovation of Building 20 for year-round use. Over the coming years, The Trust plans to undertake renovations of additional Nolan Park buildings to make them suitable and accessible for year-round occupancy by non-profit cultural tenants and public programming.

Governors Island has undergone a tremendous transformation over the last decade, including a $400 million investment in Island-wide infrastructure and the creation of a resilient 43-acre park. The Island is home to a diverse number of year-round tenants, including the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a public high school with over 500 students that offers career and technical education in marine and environmental careers; the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Arts Center, an artist residence program that functions as a public gallery space during the season and completed a 40,000 square foot renovation last September; and QC Terme, a destination day spa that is currently under construction. The Trust is currently pursuing a growth strategy centered on open space and recreation, arts and culture, and climate solutions to advance its mission.

Food and beverage vendors, bring your business to Governors Island!

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The Trust for Governors Island is seeking new concessionaires to join our lineup of delicious vendors. Food and beverage establishments are now invited to submit proposals on a rolling basis to operate on Governors Island in 2021.

The Trust offers flexible, high-traffic stationary sites for buildout of semi-permanent structures, opportunities for mobile food carts, and locations for mobile food trucks. In addition to seasonal on-Island vending opportunities, the Trust is seeking a concessionaire to operate a year-round café kiosk space in the lobby of the Battery Maritime Building, the Island’s primary Manhattan ferry terminal. Operators should consider which type of site best suits their business and offerings—proposals are also welcome for alternative locations not specifically mentioned.

Governors Island is one of New York City’s most beloved destinations. Between the months of May and October, visitors from across the city and around the globe discover a world unto itself, filled with history and an award-winning spectacular park at the center of New York Harbor. Just minutes by ferry from Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront, nearly 1M visitors come to the Island each season to enjoy a robust calendar of cultural programs, public art, car-free biking, festivals, and an expansive park with unrivaled views of the city skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

During the public season, the Island is open 10AM–6PM Monday through Friday and 10AM–7PM on weekends with earlier access for vendors, staff, and tenants. Typically, the Island hosts 3,500+ visitors per weekday and up to 12,000+ on weekend days. On weekdays, concessions also benefit from the Island population that includes employees, tenants, a vibrant arts and cultural community, and day camps. Operators also have opportunities to cater the many corporate and non-profit retreats, events and volunteer days held on the Island.

Our ideal partners to provide food and beverage are businesses that:

  • provide high-quality, affordable, delicious food for our visitors
  • have demonstrated success running similar concessions
  • are enthusiastic about partnering with the Trust for the best possible menu, design and service
  • share the Trust’s goals of promoting a sustainable and zero-waste environment

To learn more and submit your proposal, see the full posting about the opportunity and download a PDF of the Request for Proposals on our Business Opportunities page.

Governors Island’s Musical History

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Many visitors know Governors Island as a destination for music. Musical events, festivals and performances delight visitors throughout the public season every year, like this year’s annual Porch Stomp and African Film Festival Inc.’s Family Day Celebration. These modern musical events continue the long tradition of music on Governors Island that stretches back centuries, much of it accompanying the Island’s history as a military base.

As early as 1750, the American provincial regiment stationed on the Island included a band. Musicians remained part of military postings through the following decades as the Island changed hands in theAmerican Revolution. In the early 19th century, music took a more prominent role on the Island with the establishment of the Sixth Infantry Band School. Though the school remained on the Island for only a short time before it was moved to West Point, it began a tradition of training musicians on Governors Island that lasted over a century.

12th Regiment Band marching at Fort Jay, 1896

The new School of Practice for U.S.A. Field Musicians opened on Governors Island in the 1830s. The school trained musicians in fife and drum, adding bugle after the Civil War. Between fifty and ninety students, initially quartered in the casements of the South Battery, attended the school at one time. They were known as the Music Boys, an apt nickname for a group that skewed young; in 1860, two-thirds of the 60 Music Boys were between the ages of 13 and 16. Field musicians would perform multiple times each day, performing bugle calls like reveille in the morning and retreat in the evening, as well as at daily dress parades. The army band would also play at ceremonial occasions, like welcoming visiting dignitaries, at military funerals, and at the Island’s esteemed garden parties.

Soprano Anna Fitziu performing in a gazebo with the U.S. Army Band on Governors Island, 1908. Photo courtesy Ann Buttenwieser

In the 20th century, one of two Army Music Schools for bandsmen calledGovernors Island home. It boasted a highly selective bandleader training program; only five of 75 applicants were admitted for the inaugural class in 1911. Demand for military musicians grew during World War 1, with the ranks of the Recruit Band swelling to nearly 50 enlisted soldiers being trained for duty at home and abroad. In 1916, the War Department created the Third Disciplinary Band composed of prisoners housed in Castle Williams to raise morale and provide vocational training. Within a few years of its formation, over 115 men had been members of the band and about 90 percent had qualified for assignment to a military band when restored to duty or allowed to reenlist. The Castle Williams band was so popular that it competed with the famed Sixteenth Infantry Band for Saturday night spots and holiday parties at the Officers’ Club, sometimes performing even more frequently than the enlisted band.

16th Infantry Band with Lower Manhattan in background, 1925

The Army Music School departed Governors Island in 1921, relocating to Washington, D.C., though multiple bands remained. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia was a particular fan of the Sixteenth Infantry Band, often inviting them to play at Wall Street parades. The U.S. Army Band called Liggett Hall its home as it traveled to perform around the world until the Army left Governors Island in 1965. The Officers’ Club continued to host musicians, one notable regular being Burt Bacharach, who played nightly for a time during his enlistment in the early 1950s. Bands were often present at social events for the rest of the 20th century, including during the Coast Guard years, as when the U.S. Coast Guard Band played for two days around the July 4th festivities in 1992.

U.S. Army Band playing at the 37th anniversary of the First Army on Organization Day, 1955. Photo courtesy Ann Buttenwieser

Today, visitors can expect to hear and see all sorts of live musical performances on Governors Island during the public season. This music, spanning genre, era, arrangement and scale, echoes the performances of centuries past to keep the tradition of playing music on the Island alive. While the 2020 public season has ended, Governors Island’s music venues are never quiet for long.

Header image: 8th Infantry Band at Fort Jay, 1906.

See installations, performances, virtual programs and highlights from GI arts and culture programming organizations before the season ends

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As the end of Governors Island’s 2020 public season approaches, there’s still plenty of arts and culture programming from organizations active on the Island to discover on and off our shore and online.

Saturday 10/24 is the last installment of Hey Neighbor!, an artist talk series livestreamed from the porches of Nolan Park. Tune in at 3pm to hear from artists from Beam Center, BronxArtSpace, Harvestworks and NARS Foundation.

Works on Water presents Drawing the Water on Sunday 10/25. Meet artists at the water’s edge north of Castle Williams to join a conversation about our relationships with water and to draw the surrounding Harbor waters.

On Saturday 10/31, Harvestworks presents Out/With/In, a day-long experience combining live musical performances and installations across the Island. See performances in two programs beginning at 11:15AM and 3:15PM.

ArtCrawl Harlem invites viewers along for a virtual studio tour with GI Residency Initiative artist Demarcus McGaughey, Saturday 10/31 at 12PM, livestreamed from ArtCrawl’s Nolan Park house.

NY Virtual Volcano Observatory resident artist Jemila MacEwan’s outdoor installation, Dead Gods, is on view every day outside House 15 in Nolan Park. Dead Gods honors giant, prehistoric fungi known as Prototaxites, common ancestors to many modern organisms, with monolithic structures sprouting living mushrooms.

West Harlem Art Fund’s first outdoor installation on Governors Island, Conrad Levenson's Personal Goal Post, is on view daily outside House 10 in Nolan Park.

See a diptych of illustration and prose by Shandaken Projects year-round resident artist Jonathan Gonzalez outside House 2B in Nolan Park, and pick up artist Jeremy Sorese’s new broadsheet there or at the Soissons Landing Welcome Center through 11/1.

Billion Oyster Project’s GI Residency Initiative artist Zef Egan’s pinhole photographs of BOP’s initiatives and activities are on view daily outside House 16 in Nolan Park.

Artist Aviva Rahmani presents a new installation, Lost Forests, Found, in collaboration with LMCC, NYC Audubon and Earth Matter outside Earth Matter's Lavender Field south of Nolan Park. Lost Forests, Found is part of the collective public art project, Hunt for the Lost.

Off the Island, NARS Foundation is hosting an exhibition in their Sunset Park space of works by their GI Residency Initiative artists. Holding Breath is available to view through Friday 10/30 by appointment only.

See new works and projects by GI Residency Initiative artists and read about their creative processes in highlights right here on our website, including artists from Beam Center, New Art Dealers Alliance (above, NADA resident artist Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow performs Junkanooacome at Fort Jay), American Indian Community House, West Harlem Art Fund and more.

Reserve tickets to see these works in person before the Island closes, or explore our website for virtual and socially distanced events and more info about the Governors Island Residency Initiative! The Island is open through 11/1 this year.

Recovery Agenda: Mayor Bill de Blasio and Trust for Governors Island Announce Plans to Create New Hub for Green Businesses and Non-Profits

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NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Trust for Governors Island (The Trust) today issued a request for proposals (RFP) to develop a hub for businesses and non-profits working in climate and the environment in Building 301, a historic waterfront building located on the Northern section of Governors Island. An early step in establishing Governors Island as a leading center for climate solutions, this project will serve as a beta-space for new innovative technology, research and policy action within the climate and environmental fields.

The RFP released today will seek developers and operators to transform Building 301, a 23K SF historic structure, formerly used as an elementary school by the U.S. Coast Guard, into a hub for businesses, entrepreneurs and non-profits working within climate and the environment. Already home to like-minded tenants and partners like the Harbor School, Climate Museum, and Billion Oyster Project, the project will expand opportunities for businesses and non-profits to focus on new, innovative research, technology and policy action on Governors Island. The project is expected to create over 70 good paying jobs once fully constructed and operating.

“The climate crisis is already – and will continue to be – a public health crisis, too,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “It’s time to rally New York City’s scientists, innovators, and big thinkers to preserve our ability to leave safe, healthy lives by fighting climate change and adapting to an unpredictable future.”

“Establishing a hub at Governors Island to lead the world in research, design, and education about climate change and adaptation is one of the key parts of the Mayor's COVID-19 recovery agenda, and this RFP helps us get a head start on this crucial work,” said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been. “The climate crisis is a major threat to the health and well-being of New Yorkers, and our economic recovery must both bring us back from the pandemic and prepare us for such future threats to public health. The transformation of Governors Island will not only create good green jobs, but will jump start innovative strategies to avoid and mitigate the effects global warming will have on the health of our residents.”

“Governors Island is uniquely poised to become a leading center for climate action, and we’re thrilled to begin realizing this vision now by bringing small businesses and non-profits together under one roof, with opportunities to showcase their work and engage New Yorkers,” said Clare Newman, President & CEO at the Trust for Governors Island. “This new space will create jobs and breathe new life into a treasured historic asset, while laying the groundwork to establish Governors Island as an even greater resource for the long-term resilience of New York City.”

“Climate change is an existential crisis that impacts our way of life, the health of our communities, and our economy,” said James Patchett, president and CEO of New York City Economic Development Corporation. “As we continue to look towards the City’s recovery, sustainability tied to green technology and jobs will play important roles. This new hub where small businesses, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs can research, innovate, and ideate, is an important starting point that will help create a more resilient New York City for years to come.”

“As the world works to recover from COVID-19, it is clear that we must put climate and environmental justice at the heart of our actions,” said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC’s Chief Climate Policy Advisor. “Supporting job-creating investments in clean energy, resilient infrastructure, and environmental justice will be essential to the city’s recovery and will accelerate the creative solutions necessary to end the age of fossil fuels. We applaud the Trust for Governors Island on their commitment to a livable future for the next generation.”

“Adapting the world to climate change is a mammoth task that blends science, engineering, and design,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency. “This hub will create new opportunities for innovation and collaboration across sectors, critical ingredients in our work to build a safer and more resilient future.”

Today’s announcement comes one month after Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Trust unveiled plans to bring together a multi-disciplinary community of researchers, educators, advocates, innovators, and policymakers devoted to addressing the global climate crisis on Governors Island, as part of the Mayor’s Recovery Agenda. Those plans and proposed rezoning of the South Island entered the formal public land use review process this week. In 2021, the Trust plans to issue a solicitation to attract an academic or research institution to anchor the center for climate solutions on Governors Island.

The complete RFP can be downloaded at govisland.org/about/rfps. Proposals may be submitted through January 2021.

“The release of a RFP for the revitalization of Building 301 marks a crucial point in Governors Island’s development into a leading center for climate solutions and action”, said Congressman Jerry Nadler. “Through this innovative hub, Governors Island will continue to provide valuable resiliency projects as well as economic opportunities for New York City today and for the future.”

“We know that small businesses and not-for-profit organizations will play a significant part in driving the innovation that will be necessary to address climate change and the many interrelated environmental challenges we face,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents lower Manhattan, western Brooklyn and Governors Island. “This RFP will help assess the extent to which Governors Island can serve as a site for such innovation within the confines of the island’s existing structures, even as the Trust embarks on the essential public engagement and review process for its broader vision of redeveloping a portion of the island to create a much larger amount of space for environmental work.”

“Sustainability is the key to New York City’s future,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “It will get people back to work and deliver the environmental justice many New Yorkers deserve. We in government must find creative solutions like Building 301 to help our brightest minds and dedicated innovators deliver that future.”

“Manhattan Community Board 1 is looking forward to seeing our treasured historic buildings on Governors Island come alive and be restored as a part of the Trust's vision for an Island that includes environmental consciousness and action,” said Tammy Meltzer, Chairperson, Manhattan Community Board 1.

In September 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Trust for Governors Island announced plans to bring a center for climate solutions to Governors Island as a key part of the Mayor’s Recovery Agenda. Leveraging the Island’s waterfront location and unique environment, the project will concentrate research and innovation, testing and development, and education and public engagement around innovative climate solutions in a single physical hub, bringing together a multi-disciplinary community of researchers, educators, advocates, innovators, and policymakers devoted to addressing the global climate crisis. In total, the center could encompass millions of square feet of mixed-use development to support and expand public access to Governors Island year-round, and create 8,000 direct jobs.

Over the next several months, the Trust and the Mayor’s Office will work with stakeholders, advocates, local elected officials, agencies, and New Yorkers to help bring the vision to life through a proposed rezoning of the South Island, which entered the City’s formal land use review process this week. The proposed rezoning will support a mixed-use district within development sites on the South Island, including an academic or research institution which will anchor the center for climate solutions, while protecting the Island’s park and open spaces.

Get Brooklyn Navy Yard-made PPE for your Governors Island visit at these vending machines

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This year, we’re requiring visitors to wear face coverings at all times while boarding and riding our ferries and while on the Island when social distancing isn’t possible. It’s a breeze to grab some new Personal Protective Equipment before boarding the ferry or while you’re on Governors Island thanks to two vending machines stocked with Brooklyn Navy Yard-made materials.

These two machines, one located in the lobby of the Battery Maritime Building in Manhattan and the other in Liggett Archway on the Island, carry a variety of face coverings and hand sanitizers. Besides the stylish Governors Island bandana, all of these PPE offerings are made by companies based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The inventory of Navy Yard-made PPE

These easy-to-use machines offer masks by Accurate Knitting, American Heirloom, Atoms, Crye Precision, Engraved Signs, Fydelity Bags, Rebel Designs, Stitch, and Tracey Tanner that come in different styles and designs. You can also grab a Governors Island bandana with a fun ferry pattern (or if you aren’t visiting soon, pick one up in our online store) that doubles as a great face covering.

Once you’ve got your face covering, keep your hands clean during your visit with hand sanitizer gel by Scully’s, Kings County Distillery, and Ecologics, or with Ecologic’s hand sanitizing spray.

The vending machine in the lobby of the Battery Maritime Building

Thanks to these vending machines, stocking up or re-stocking on PPE is a snap before or during your visit. Read more about manufacturing at the Navy Yard here, and pay a visit to the vending machines to grab some quality, Brooklyn-made PPE.

Hey Neighbor! New Zoom conversation series with current Artists-in-Residence on Governors Island launches

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Four arts organizations currently hosting artist residencies on Governors Island – 4heads, Beam Center, Harvestworks, and the NARS Foundation – have announced the launch of a new Zoom conversation series in which artists from their different residency programs will be partnered together for one-on-one conversations about their studio practices, residencies, and topics such as how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their work. Launching on Saturday, October 3rd, and taking place every Saturday for four weeks, the Hey Neighbor! Artists’ Talk Series brings together artists who are currently working in close proximity but might otherwise never interact because of the nature of their studio practices or the social distancing required by the pandemic. 4heads initiated the collaboration to continue their mission of supporting their residency artists and helping them build networks in a year in which they could not host their annual art fair on Governors Island.

Participating organizations are hosting residencies on Governors Island as part of the Governors Island Residency Initiative, a partnership between the Trust for Governors Island and 19 cultural organizations to host free residency programs for artists and cultural practitioners that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Nearly 100 artists are currently working on Governors Island in studios as part of this initiative.

Each conversation will begin with a short video intro about each artists’ work. The artists will then speak with each other for around 30 minutes before opening the conversation up to a Q&A with the audience. All of the conversations will be moderated by Jack Robinson, one of the co-founders of 4heads.

All of the conversations, which are free and open to the public, will take place on Zoom. Learn more here.

The full program follows below.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

3-4 PM: CHiKA (NARS Foundation) and Katherine Freer (Beam Center)

ChIKA is a Japanese-born New York-based artist who works in light sculptures, audiovisual performances, and technology. Katherine Freer is a multimedia designer working in theater, installation, and film.

4-5 PM: Joseph Baker (Beam Center) and Sizhu Li (4heads)

Joseph Baker is a multimedia artist who uses light and sound. Sizhu Li is a Chinese-born New York-based artist who creates immersive kinetic installations

Saturday, October 10, 2020

3-4 PM: Sarah K Williams (NARS Foundation) and Lauren Petty & Shaun Irons (4heads)

Sarah K Williams is a performance artist who creates short intimate pieces engaging time as object and gesture as an effective mode of communication . Shaun Irons and Lauren Petty are Brooklyn-based artists who make multidisciplinary performances, multi-channel installations, experimental films, documentaries, as well as interactive video scores to accompany live performance.

4-5 PM: Alexandra Goldberg/Joseph Morris (Harvestworks) and Sam Sundius (4heads)

Alexandra Goldberg and Joseph Morris are currently collaborating on new work that uses art and technology to make human phenomena visible. Sam Sundius is a fiber and installation artist whose work deals with concepts of isolation, family, gender, and the body.

5-6PM: Jemila MacEwan (Virtual Volcano Observatory) and Elizabeth Demaray (Swale)

Jemila MacEwan is an interdisciplinary artist known for her intimately interwoven earthworks, sculptures, and performances. Elizabeth Demaray is a sculptor focusing on the interface between the built and the natural environment.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

3-4 PM: Shannon Finnegan (Beam Center) and Valérie Hallier (Harvestworks)

Shannon Finnegan is a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist whose work aims to increase perceptions of accessibility. Valerie Hallier is a French multidisciplinary artist whose work reflects on the illusion of control.

4-5 PM: Tim Fite (4heads) and Zeelie Brown (Swale)

Tim Fite makes large-scale, compositionally complex, black and white drawings that occasionally have a musical or performative component. Zeelie Brown is a visual artist and cellist who often uses sound and textiles in her installations, most notably queer sanctuaries called “soulscapes.”

5-6PM: Julie Ann Nagle (Swale) and Simone Johnson (Works on Water)

Julie Ann Nagle creates interactive installations and is currently building on the experiential aspect of her practice by weaving an enormous outdoor structure based on the nests of birds local to Governors Island. Simon Johnson is a process-based installation artist who is currently researching the relationship between climate change and the ocean, algae, surrealism, and the imagination.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

3-4PM: Anne Wu (NARS Foundation) and Charlotte Mundy (Harvestworks)

Anne Wu’s work draws from architectural structures and decorative elements commonly found in existing urban landscapes. Charlotte Mundy is a vocalist and composer who is now working on multisensory installations.

4-5PM: Aarati Akkapeddi (Beam Center) and Christian Hincapié (NARS Foundation)

Aarati Akkapeddi is a first-generation Indian-American, cross-disciplinary artist, educator, and programmer interested in the poetics and politics of datasets. Christian Hincapié's work is equal parts research-based, studio-based, and made in collaboration with public space.

5-6PM: Nilufa Yeasmin (BronxArtSpace) and Anooj Bhandari (Beam Center)

Nilufa Yeasmin is a New York-based artist born in Bangladesh whose work is influenced by the travel between these two places she calls home. Anooj Bhandari is a community organizer, storyteller, and performer who is interested in poetics, movement, and physical theater.

About 4heads:
4heads is a 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization run by artists for artists. It was launched in New York in 2008, when Nicole Laemmle, Jack Robinson, and Antony Zito, who are working artists themselves, saw an opportunity to create a platform that would serve emerging artists and the local community through exhibitions, education programs, and artistic collaborations. The organization’s DIY spirit helps catalyze the ongoing dialogue between artists and people from all walks of life. Its diverse slate of initiatives includes art fairs, arts-education for underserved communities, and a summer Artists in Residence program on Governors Island. 4heads is committed to shedding new light on hidden culture and bringing new life to unexpected and unique spaces across the city.

About Beam Center:
Beam Center is a community of kids, teens, adults, artists, and teachers collaborating to create spectacular projects rooted in a passionate curiosity for learning, making, and sharing. Beam has more than 16 years of experience creating large-scale youth-built art installations, including FlipNYC, giant flipbooks at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO, +Pool Light at Pier 17 in Lower Manhattan, and Iceberg , a massive thermochromatic structure floating in the middle of a lake in New Hampshire. Lighthouse is Beam’s artist residency on Governors Island that provides space for artists to engage their interdisciplinary practices with FabLab technologies and tools.

About Harvestworks:
Founded as a not-for-profit organization by artists in 1977, Harvestworks has helped a generation of artists create new artworks using sound, image and interactive technology. The 2020 Harvestworks Artist Studios continues their Art and Technology Program on Governors Island that is centered on art works created at the intersection of art and technology. Since 2011, the program has included artists' open studios, exhibitions of digital media art, public workshops and an educational research facility. Harvestworks’ goal is to provide exhibition opportunities to electronic media artists and also to educate the public about how artists use new and emerging technology for artistic expression.

About the New York Art Residency and Studios (NARS) Foundation:
The New York Art Residency and Studios (NARS) Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit arts organization committed to supporting artists and curators on an international level as well as engaging the local community in Brooklyn and the Greater New York area, through short-term integrated residency programs, progressive exhibition programs, international exchanges, and engaging public programs that foster global understanding and dynamic cross-cultural dialogues. The 2020 NARS Satellite Residency at Governors Island hosts 5 New York based artists, who are provided with administrative, curatorial, and professional support to explore and expand the scope of their artistic practice through research, dialogue, and production of new projects. As a studio based residency, the focus is on practice within the studio and the experimentation and exploration that results from creating new work. Residency artists benefit from NARS’ community driven program and the ongoing dialogue between fellow residency artists.

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