! Alert

Governors Island is now open to the public year-round, every day from 7am-6pm. Ferries run daily from Manhattan, click here to view schedules and book tickets.

Governors Island is now open to the public year-round, every day from 7am-6pm. Ferries run daily from Manhattan, click here to view schedules and book tickets.

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

Indoor Programming Space: Organizations in Residence


Governors Island provides an exciting opportunity for nonprofit arts, cultural, educational and environmental organizations to share their work with the public and advance their missions in a setting unlike anywhere else in New York City. The Island offers organizations from NYC and beyond a dynamic platform to present creative projects of various forms and connect with a diverse and growing audience of nearly 1M annual visitors.

The Trust for Governors Island invites qualifying organizations to apply to become an Organization in Residence during the 2022 programming season, which runs from May through October. Selected organizations receive access to indoor programming space in one of the Island’s historic houses, plus adjacent outdoor space. Organizations in Residence present programming that is free and open to the public and have the opportunity to use these distinctive spaces to convene exhibitions, research programs, educational workshops, as well as temporary workspace for artists, writers and other creative practitioners.

Key Dates

Proposals were due on November 3, 2021. Applicants were strongly encouraged to submit proposals by the due date in order to be considered. Please email info@govisland.org with any questions.

Date Issued:
September 13, 2021
Proposals Due:
November 3, 2021 (extended)
Applicants Notified:
November 19, 2021


Organizations in Residence become part of an interdisciplinary, collaborative community of leading cultural groups from across the City and beyond, who present programs in the fields of visual and performing arts, history, architecture and design, climate change, ecology, sustainability and more. Together, the Island’s resident organizations present more than 100 free, public exhibitions and outdoor projects each year, often in collaboration with one another, as well as provide studios and workspace to dozens of artists, writers, researchers and other cultural practitioners.

Recent organizations selected as part of this program have included The American Indian Community House, BronxArtSpace, The Climate Museum, Flux Factory, The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA), New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), Pioneer Works, Pratt Institute, Protocinema, Swale and Triangle Arts Association, among many others. Resident organizations also work alongside and have the opportunity to collaborate with longer-term cultural tenants on the Island, such as The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Shandaken Projects.


The historic houses in Nolan Park and along Colonels Row were built in the late 1800s 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. They are historic in character with many original details. Floor plans vary, and applicants are encouraged to be flexible in their layout. Presenting programs in these grand, formerly residential spaces requires embracing an untraditional working and exhibition environment. Given their delicate nature, the spaces are best suited to research and creative practices that do not involve heavy production or large equipment. Each house also has some outdoor space in the form of a front porch and yard, providing opportunities to present open-air programs. 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.


Organizations may request an indoor programming space for one of several durations depending on their programmatic needs and organizational capacity. All full-season programs are located in Nolan Park, while all half-season programs are located in Colonels Row. The houses are made available to selected organizations for seasonal use through this program between May to October.

The Trust requires that selected organizations host free programming open to the public between the hours of 11am to 5pm on weekends. Additional hours are welcome and encouraged. The Trust requires that organizations staff their spaces and manage engagement with their programs whenever they are open to the public. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Trust is continuing to monitor current health and safety guidelines and will adjust these requirements as needed.


Nolan Park Houses:

  • Full-season programs (May through October)
  • One house per organization
  • Interdisciplinary programming community with organizations working across arts and culture, science, education and climate and the environment emphasizing research and public engagement


Colonels Row Houses:

  • Half-season programs, either May through early August or late August through the end of October
  • Possibility of multiple houses for expanded exhibitions or fair/festival programming
  • Focus on visual art exhibitions, artist residency programs and cultural events

To be eligible for space on Governors Island through this process, led by the Trust’s Arts and Culture program, organizations must be nonprofits engaged in the areas of arts and culture, history, climate, 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.

Proposals must include the presentation of free, public programming in the space at least on weekends from 11am to 5pm (additional days/hours are welcome and encouraged). Public programming may take place within the entire house or, at a minimum, on the ground floor. Selected Organizations in Residence are required to staff the space whenever it is open to the public and oversee all activities in the house for the duration of the residency. Organizations will be required to supply a security deposit, fully reimbursable at the end of the residency, along with proof of insurance that meets the Trust’s minimum requirements, including commercial general liability insurance. The Trust does not charge a site fee to Organizations in Residence for access to the houses.

Organizations currently or formerly in residence on the Island are welcome and encouraged to reapply. To ensure there are continually new voices and perspectives within the Island’s cultural community, the Trust will reserve a percentage of houses for organizations that have not previously received indoor space on the Island.


Proposals are assessed based on the following criteria:

  • Alignment with The Trust for Governors Island’s 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, the Trust 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 the Trust to coordinate logistics, as well as your proposed schedule for open/public hours.

FAQs

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 commissions@govisland.org.

Governors Island has tents of varying sizes available for programs to rent for a fee at the responsibility of the organizer, and more information on tent specifications can be provided upon request. Governors Island does not own or rent stages, generators or A/V equipment.

Governors Island has free, public Wi-Fi in many outdoor areas on the Island. Programming organizations may be able to purchase dedicated Wi-Fi service with additional bandwidth from the Island’s wireless provider, or 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 programming@govisland.org.

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.