Escaping Time: Art from U.S. Prisons, 2023. Photo by Sean Jamar.

Organizations in Residence

Governors Island Arts, the public arts and cultural program presented by the Trust for Governors Island is pleased to announce its 2024 Open Call for the seasonal Organizations in Residence Program. Organizations in Residence offers an exciting opportunity for arts, cultural, educational, and environmental nonprofits to share their work with the public and advance their missions in a setting unlike anywhere else in New York City.

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Key Dates

Proposals for the 2024 season were due by 5pm on November 10, 2023. Applicants will be notified of their status by December 1, 2023. Please email with any questions.

Date Issued:
September 28, 2023
Proposals Due:
EXTENDED to November 10, 2023
Applicants Notified:
December 1, 2023
Residency Dates:
Spring-Fall 2024

Governors Island Arts’ Organization in Residence Program offers free indoor programming space to New York nonprofit arts, cultural, educational, and environmental organizations in one of the Island’s historic houses.

Organizations in Residence temporarily occupy these houses to provide programming that is free and open to the public, embracing an untraditional working and exhibition environment that helps organizations connect with a diverse and growing audience of nearly 1M annual visitors.

The historic houses in Nolan Park and along Colonels Row were built in the late 1900 to house military officers and their families during the Island’s history as a base for the U.S. Army and, later, the Coast Guard. Given their delicate nature, the spaces are best suited to creative practices that do not involve heavy production or large equipment. Spaces are delivered to selected organizations as-is and have working but limited electricity. Spaces currently have no access to running water, working restrooms or heating and cooling systems. Restroom facilities and drinking fountains are located within a five-minute walk from the houses.

  • Resident organizations will devise seasonal programming, including but not limited to exhibitions, events, workshops, and artist residencies that encourage visitors to engage with their mission and with the space at Governors Island. All programs offered must be free and open to the public
  • Organizations that are part of this program are expected to staff their assigned house weekly. Hours may vary, but all houses must be open to the public no less than Friday -Sunday from 11am-5pm, Houses can be open up to seven days a week during the Island’s public hours.
  • Organizations that are part of this program should plan to be open by early May 2023 and participate in an island-wide opening event in May (date TBA). Later opening dates will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Organizations that are part of this program are encouraged to collaborate with other participating organizations in public programs as well as Governors Island Arts’ new annual House Fest. Public programs can include artist talks, workshops, panels, and performances during the summer
  • Organizations that are part of this program are invited to participate in regular gatherings throughout the season to promote community building and foster island partnerships

  • Organizations must submit a proposal detailing their programmatic plans. These programs must include the presentation of free, public programming in the space.
  • Organizations must be nonprofits (or be fiscally sponsored) who are engaged in the areas of arts and culture, history, climate, performance, architecture, urban space, social and environmental justice, agriculture/horticulture or another field relevant to the context of the Island. Organizations led by and serving Black, Indigenous and People of Color are especially encouraged to apply.
  • Organizations must be able to staff the space on the island weekly, Friday-Sunday from 11am-5pm, during the peak season (May-October)
  • Organizations will be required to supply a security deposit in the amount of $1000, fully reimbursable at the end of the residency.
  • Organizations must provide proof of insurance that meets the Trust for Governors Island’s minimum requirements, including commercial general liability insurance.

Proposals are assessed based on the following criteria:

  • Alignment with Governors Island Arts’ goal to provide all New Yorkers the opportunity to engage in dynamic arts and cultural programming on the Island, as well as educational and cross-disciplinary opportunities in the arts and sciences
  • Engagement with the Island as a site, including its history, environments, architecture, existing cultural and educational programming, and relationship to the rest of New York City
  • Applicant’s track-record of producing and organizing other exceptional programs
  • Emphasis on public participation or engagement across diverse audiences and communities, with programs that are family friendly or suitable for all ages strongly encouraged
  • Fit and feasibility of the program given the historic nature of the buildings in Nolan Park and Colonels Row

Governors Island is a 172-acre island in the heart of New York Harbor. Just minutes from Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront by ferry, the Island is a popular seasonal destination open to visitors from May to October. An award-winning park complements its dozens of historic buildings, year-round educational and cultural facilities, rich arts and culture program and 22-acre National Monument managed by the National Park Service. Looking ahead, the long-term vision for Governors Island focuses expanding public access year-round by enlivening it with transformative art and culture, extraordinary recreational and open space, and research and education dedicated to addressing the global climate crisis.

Please click below to begin the proposal submission process. Applicants will be asked to fill out an application form and then upload a written proposal that describes their program in more detail. Due to the large number of proposals and limited space on the Island, Governors Island Arts is only able to accept a small percentage of proposals.

Written Proposal Questions:

  1. Please provide an overview of your organization, including your mission, history, relevant past projects and any other information that helps contextualize what you would like to do on Governors Island. Please feel free to include images of relevant past work.
  2. Please describe the program that would take place on Governors Island and how it furthers your organization’s goals and priorities. If proposing a program that involves an artist residency or exhibition opportunity, please outline your process for selecting participants and ensuring diversity within your applicant pool. Please feel free to include renderings or sketches of your proposed program.
  3. Please describe the primary audiences for your program and how you would engage them.
  4. Please describe why Governors Island is your preferred location for this program and how your program relates to the Island as a site.
  5. Please describe any planned or potential collaborations with any other organizations, either on or off the Island.
  6. Please describe how you plan to make use of the space, including the interior of the house, front porch, front yard and any plans for projects you would like to undertake off-site, elsewhere on the Island. Please also outline any improvements you would set out to make to the interior space.
  7. If you indicated a preferred timeframe of more than one year/season, please describe how your program would grow, expand, deepen or evolve over that period. What would this extended duration allow you to accomplish that is not possible otherwise?

Supplemental Materials:

Please include the following documents in your PDF proposal:

  1. Draft budget that outlines that outlines the major costs you anticipate for your program, such as exhibition production/installation, staffing, marketing and promotion, community engagement, etc.
  2. Draft staffing plan with key positions and responsibilities, including a lead program organizer and main point of contact for Governors Island Arts to coordinate logistics, as well as your proposed schedule for open/public hours.


Have more questions before applying? Read through these FAQs, or check out our Rules and Regulations.

For accepted indoor program proposals, the Trust will find an appropriate site based on the proposed program and production setup. All indoor exhibition sites through this process will be located within the historic former homes in Nolan Park and Colonels Row.

Organizations hosting indoor programs that are free and open to the public are eligible to have site fees waived. A security deposit, fully reimbursable after the program ends, will be required for any accidental damage to the Island’s historic buildings or surrounding landscapes. 

Special events during the run of the program may require additional services. In these cases, the organization producing the program will be responsible for these costs.

The Trust welcomes inquiries from individual artists interested in showing work on Governors Island. However, only artists working directly with presenting organizations can apply through this proposal process (if you are an artist partnering with an organization to produce a project, the organization should apply on behalf of the team). For information regarding our commissions program, please contact

Governors Island does not own or rent tents, stages, generators, or A/V equipment.

Free, public Wi-Fi is available in many outdoor areas on the Island. Event organizers may purchase dedicated Wi-Fi service with additional bandwidth from the Island’s wireless provider, or they may install wireless hotspots.

The Trust discourages the sale of commercial products within indoor programming spaces. The sale of educational materials, such as books or printed materials related to the proposed program, may be permitted upon approval by the Trust. Please note that food or beverage sales are not allowed in the historic houses.

Sales of any type should be noted in your proposal to the Trust. If you’re interested in selling art at your program or event, please get in touch with us directly at

Non-profit organizations are allowed to solicit donations, but only in the designated space reserved for your program. Funds must go back into supporting the program.

Program organizers are responsible for securing a permit from the New York State Liquor Authority to serve alcohol for any planned special events during the run of the program. The Trust must receive a copy of the liquor permit and approve all logistical plans for the area where alcohol will be served.

Please note that visitors are not permitted to bring their own alcohol to Governors Island and that alcohol is only permitted in areas designated by the Trust and only served to those over 21 years of age. 

Programs in the historic houses in Nolan Park and Colonels Row are required to be open to the public with free programming on weekends from 11 AM-5 PM. Additional public hours on weekdays are strongly encouraged. Organizations are required to have a staff person on site whenever the program is open to the public.