Announcing the Governors Island Residency Initiative


The Trust for Governors Island, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and 18cultural organizations with space on Governors Island are joining forces to host free residency programs for 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 used in years past 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 the Initiative and accommodate artists in need. Artists can apply now to LMCC’s Open Call for residency proposals.

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 in New York and elsewhere may not be able to access or afford dedicated space to work, think, research, write, plan, rehearse and otherwise further their creative practices.

“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 through

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 tooutreach 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.