Public Artists in Residence (PAIR)


Public Artists in Residence (PAIR) is a 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 (unsalaried)artist-in-residence with the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), 1977 – present.

PAIR is based on the premise that artists are creative problem-solvers. They 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 a partner City Agency decide on a broad population, challenge, and/or goal the partner 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, as well as in-kind resources such as desk space with the partner agency, an access to DCLA’s Materials for the Arts.

Open Call for Public Artists in Residence - 2018

In January 2018, DCLA will launch the next cycle of PAIRs with a new cohort of New York City municipal partners.  DCLA  is currently seeking Public Artists in Residence for:

  • NYC Department of Correction, specifically for Rikers Island
  • NYC Department of Probation
  • NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence

The selected artist will have demonstrated experience and excellence in socially engaged art or collaborative art practice addressing social and political issues relevant to the host City agency. Artists working in all media welcome to apply.

Artists may apply to multiple open calls, but can only be selected for one position.  A separate application must be submitted for each agency.

View the PAIR applications with more information, guidelines, and eligibility. The deadline to apply is 11:59pm on Sunday, November 12, 2017.

If you still have questions after reviewing the open call and guidelines, read the PAIR FAQs.

Still have questions? Email

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. 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.

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.

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?  To address the question, Bruguera joined forces with long-time collaborators  Mujeres en Movimiento -- who use tactics from art and community organizing to advocate for neighborhood improvements – as well as Kollektiv Migrantas, a participatory design collective specializing in migrant rights .Together, the group launched CycleNews, a two-way bike messenger service to communicate trusted, first-hand information between city agencies and immigrant communities.
For CycleNews, the Mujeres worked with Bruguera and trained with MOIA to develop strategies to educate and engage immigrant residents about rights and services available to them through MOIA. Working with the Kollektiv Migrantas, , Bruguera, the Mujeres, MOIA, and DCLA co-created picture-based materials outlining critical MOIA services to share with the Corona community.
Every weekend, the Mujeres become creative bike messengers, delivering this specially-crafted information on acid yellow CycleNews bicycles. As messengers, the Mujeres serve as direct points of contact between immigrant communities and government institutions and bring first-hand feedback, ideas, hopes, and fears to City officials. The ultimate goal is for CycleNews to be implemented by other local activist groups in neighborhoods across New York City, creating multiple lines for direct communication between City government and the city’s immigrant residents. 
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.

Past Public Artists in Residence

The Lost Collective + Administration for Children’s Services (ACS)
Over the course of the last year, The Lost Collective joined ACS as the official Public Artists in Residence (PAIR). The Collective worked with 30 LGBTQ+ youth in five group homes across the City to create space for creative expression and creative agency. The youth delved into a range of projects, from self-portraiture, to voguing, to cooking, to martial arts, to autobiographical music videos. The PAIR artists built meaningful relationships with the youth, exposing them to artistic happenings, practices, and other artists in NYC. The residency culminated in a public exhibition of work by the youth, including performances of original music and screenings of experimental films, at the Nuyorican Poet’s Café.

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.

Mary Miss + Department of Design and Construction (DDC)
In an advisory capacity, Miss worked within DDC to identify “as many routes as possible to engage artists in reimagining cities for the 21st century.” She held several public discussions and workshops with DDC staff to brainstorm entry points for artists to create temporary works throughout the design and construction process.

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.

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.


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.