Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York

Public Artists in Residence (PAIR)

Public Artists in Residence (PAIR) is an experimental municipal residency program that embeds artists in city government to propose and implement creative solutions to pressing civic challenges. Launched in the fall of 2015, PAIR takes its inspiration and its name from the pioneering work of artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, the first official artist-in-residence (unsalaried) with the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), 1977 – present.

Image credit: Paxton Winters

PAIR is based on the premise that artists are creative problem-solvers. Moving beyond politics and public relations, artists are able to create long-term and lasting impact by working collaboratively and in open-ended processes to build community bonds, open channels for two-way dialogue, and reimagine realities to create new possibilities for those who experience and participate in the work.

Through a series of conversations, DCLA and its partner City agency decide on a broad population, challenge, or goal the agency wishes to focus on. With Commissioner-level support, DCLA issues an open call for artists or recommends artists based on artistic excellence and demonstrated knowledge of the particular social issues addressed in the residency. The final artist selection is made in partnership with both agencies.

Each PAIR is a minimum of one year. The residency begins with a research phase, during which the artist spends time at the agency meeting staff and learning about its operations and initiatives while also introducing their art practice and process to agency staff. The research phase concludes with a proposal from the artist outlining one or more public-facing participatory projects that will be implemented in partnership with the agency.  Artists receive a fee, project budget desk space with the host agency, and additional in-kind resources provided by both DCLA and the host agency.

The program is still in pilot phase as DCLA continues to explore and test new ways to integrate artists into City government.

The PAIR program is made possible by funds from the City of New York with additional support provided by private philanthropy.  DCLA and its City partners are grateful for the early private support for the program provided by The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, the David Rockefeller Fund, the Rauschenberg Foundation, and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.  

Current Public Artists in Residence
Bryan Doerries + Department for Veterans’ Services (DVS)
Doerries is the co-founder of Theater of War Productions, which presents programs that address the enduring impact of war as well as broader community issues such as gun violence, mental health, addiction, prison reform, sexual assault and domestic violence. Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is a co-producer of the residency as part of its commitment to being a resource and advocate for civic engagement, education, artistic expression, and a safe haven for public discourse. The residency will combine theater and public forums that engage both veterans and civilians in community-specific performances that foster health and healing through open discussion and exchange. Over the next two years, January 2017 – December 2018, the free performances will take place in more than 60 venues across New York, including public libraries, with each of the projects tailored to the needs of different communities.

Bryan Doerries is a Brooklyn-based writer, director, and translator. A self-described evangelist for classical literature and its relevance to our lives today, Doerries uses age-old approaches to help individuals and communities heal from trauma and loss. He is the founder of Theater of War and the co-founder and Artistic Director of Theater of War Productions, a social impact company that uses theater and a variety of other media to address pressing public health and social issues. His book, The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in September of 2015, along with a volume of his translations of ancient Greek tragedies, entitled All That You’ve Seen Here is God. His graphic novel, The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan was published by Pantheon in April of 2016. Doerries lectures on his work at cultural venues throughout the world and, in recent years, has taught courses at Princeton University, the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and the Bard Prison Initiative. He is a proud board member of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and Friends of the Young Writers Workshop.

Tania Bruguera + Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA)
Bruguera asks the questions: how can immigrant communities begin to trust the government and how, in turn, will the government demonstrate that it trusts immigrant communities?  Bruguera began her research phase at MOIA in the fall of 2016, and will launch her first major project in the spring of 2017.

Tania Bruguera was born in 1968 in Havana, Cuba. Bruguera, a politically motivated performance artist, explores the relationship between art, activism, and social change in works that examine the social effects of political and economic power. By creating proposals and aesthetic models for others to use and adapt, she defines herself as an initiator rather than an author, and often collaborates with multiple institutions as well as many individuals so that the full realization of her artwork occurs when others adopt and perpetuate it. Advancing the concept of arte útil (literally translated to useful art; art as a benefit and a tool), she proposes solutions to sociopolitical problems through the implementation of art, and has developed long-term projects that include a community center and a political party for immigrants, and a school for behavior art.

Mary Miss + Department of Design and Construction (DDC)
In an advisory capacity, Miss is working within DDC to identify “as many routes as possible to engage artists in reimagining cities for the 21st century.”

Mary Miss has reshaped the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, landscape design and installation art by articulating a vision of the public sphere where it is possible for an artist to address the issues of our time. Her installations focus on social, cultural and environmental sustainability to reveal history, ecology or aspects of sites that have gone unnoticed. In addition to the ongoing initiative BROADWAY: 1000 Steps, she recently completed a project for the Indianapolis Museum of Art focusing on a 6-mile stretch of the White River. Miss was one of four artists who developed concepts for envisioning the future of Long Island City as part of the exhibition, Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City at the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park. She has received grants from the NEA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation. In 2012 she was awarded NYC Design Commission’s Award for Excellence in Design for The Passage: A Moving Memorial on Staten Island.

The Lost Collective + Administration for Children’s Services (ACS)
The Lost Collective is using their interdisciplinary theater-based practice to work collaboratively with residents of five LGBTQ foster homes for youth to open new possibilities for education, inspiration, and self-identity. The one-year residency will culminate in a public presentation in the spring of 2017 hosted by the participating youth of their work.

The Lost Collective is a group of four artists – Keelay Gipson, Rebeca Rad, Josh Adam Ramos, and Britton Smith – who have extensive experience in New York theater as actors, directors, writers, musicians, producers, educators, and mentors. Their practice is rooted in the intersection of art and activism, and their work is focused on the voices of underrepresented populations, including people of color and the LGBTQ community. The collective mounted two productions of a play entitled The Lost in 2014 and 2015 that used spoken word poetry and hip hop/R&B music to tell a story about youths at the margins of society and their struggle to create a space for themselves.

Past Public Artists in Residence
Social Design Collective + Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS)
Social Design Collective (SDC) worked with DVS to foster and engage a community of women veterans, a historically underserved population. During the course of their year-long residency, SDC worked with The Harlem Vet Center to produce the first women veterans conference in New York City with over 200 participants, hosted a series of LGTBIQ-focused potlucks for veterans, and created an extensive network of veteran artist advocacy groups. Sievert led website and digital literacy classes to women veterans, and Tinsley photographed and interviewed NYC-based women veterans for her ongoing project SisterVet: Stories from Sisters, Sailors and Soldiers.

Social Design Collective (SDC) is an art and design collaborative founded and led by Jules Rochielle Sievert. This residency was done in collaboration with artist and veteran Christine Tinsley. Sievert has navigated terrain between art, performance, social justice, collective art practice, and applied design for over 10 years. SDC uses a variety of art and outreach strategies to build community partnerships and networks that endure long after the artistic engagement ends.

Upcoming Public Artists in Residence
Please check back regularly for information about projects in development and future PAIR opportunities.