The Trust for Governors Island's Art CommisionsGI Program

Governors Island Corporation, d.b.a. The Trust for Governors Island (The Trust)

Funding Received: 2013
New York, NY
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
April 18, 2014

Site-specific dance is just one thing we never tire of on Governors Island, and this looks like a promising year for it! Dancing in the Streets’ Breaking Ground, Fort Jay, Governors Island, 2006, Invasion by Noémie Lafrance; photo: Julieta Cervantes

Last month we opened our permit process for the 2014 summer season, inviting groups to propose programming for the Island’s public open spaces and nearly two dozen historic homes, totaling more than 200,000 square feet as part of OpenHouseGI. Only a month and a half into the process, we are thrilled to report that we have received double the number of programming applications from last year. Not only are there twice as many, but we’re also seeing a greater diversity of proposals (which is saying a lot, given that we have been hosts to everything from unicycle festivals to classical music series).

So what changed? A significant part of the Island is still closed to the public while the construction of the next phase of park (the Hills!) is underway, but we’re about to open 30 acres of new parkland that will be open 7 days a week from Memorial Day weekend until the end of September. The promise of this beautiful park and new accessibility sets a new tone for the Island and is encouraging people to think about bringing their creative programming out here in these greater numbers. And what’s so delightful about that is we would never have been able to build the park or open the Island for more days a week if it weren’t for the success of our open arms programming strategy and the creative communities that make it all happen.

Recent Wins
People are getting excited about our expanded summer season, as reported by Downtown Express. March 13, 2014. “Feds & City Gear Up for Governors Island’s Expanded Season,” Downtown Express. We also received an unusual number of “OMG!’s” and “Squeee!’s” and “Likes” on social media when we reported our progress on Slide Hill, a feature of the coming Hills project that hasn’t really had a lot of attention before. Read about it in March 13, 2014. “Giant Hill of Slides Takes Shape on Governors Island,” on DNA Info.

There is a virtuous circle in effect between activating public space and improving the public space you’re activating.  We’ve proven that you don’t necessarily need to start with a new or improved public space; with creative programming there’s tremendous potential in every public space, no matter how unloved or remote. But that doesn’t take away from the importance of creating and elevating beauty in the public realm.