Public Space Activations

NYC’s Public Space Activations program helps bring free activities to public spaces, such as plazas and Open Streets. This program connects public spaces citywide with local organizations that host activities. All activations are free and open to New Yorkers of all ages and abilities.

Activations bring arts, culture, fitness, and educational experiences to neighborhoods in need. These activities also promote the positive use of public space. This program is focused on high- and medium-need neighborhoods, including those hardest hit by COVID-19.

Plaza and Open Streets partners may email activations@dot.nyc.gov to learn more about hosting Activations.

A colorful drag queen reads a story to children seated in a semi-circle on an Open Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Drag Queen Story Hour at 5th Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Activations Events in 2021

NYC DOT teamed up with several City agencies, cultural organizations, and non-profit institutions to produce a wide range of events in 2021. The goal of this partnership was to provide free, public activities to the 33 neighborhoods hardest hit by COVD-19 identified in Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City Address.

Sign up for our Public Spaces newsletter to learn about upcoming events

Mobile Unit’s Summer of Joy

A box truck is used as the backdrop for a performance in a public plaza while several audience members seated in pink chairs watch.
Mobile Unit’s Summer of Joy premiered in Astor Plaza, Manhattan

The Public Theater Mobile Unit’s Summer of Joy is a pop-up experience touring plazas and Open Streets throughout August 2021. Performances include the National Black Theater’s Stage for Healing and Resilience, Verses @ Work – The Abridged Mix, and Shakespeare: Call and Response. Learn more about the Public Theater’s Mobile Unit’s Summer of Joy

Flatbed Follies

Two people juggle brightly colored clubs on a flatbed stage in a plaza.
Flatbed Follies at Plaza de las Americas, Manhattan

The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus’ Flatbed Follies is an innovative travelling circus. They provide variety arts and amazing acts to neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19. Events are produced in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Learn more about the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus

Turn Out Queens!

Two dancers in traditional Mexican garments dance for people gathered at Corona Plaza in Queens.
Calpulli Mexican Dance performs as part of Turn Out Queens! In Corona Plaza, Queens

This summer NYC DOT is partnering with the Queens Theater to host Latino Cultural events. All events take place on Sundays at 4pm (through September 5) in Corona Plaza – Roosevelt Avenue between National Street and 104th Street, Queens. Visit Queens Theater for information about these special events

100 Activations for NYC! – Partnership with Street Lab

A pop up library on an Open Street is surrounded by yellow and white seating elements. Several passerby of varying ages stop to check out the books.
Street Lab’s pop up library at 5th Avenue Sunset Park, Brooklyn

In partnership with Street Lab, NYC DOT will bring over 100 activations to the 33 NYC neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19. Street Lab’s pop up learning environments provide vital educational, cultural, and healthy living services to New Yorkers. Visit Street Lab for a calendar of upcoming events

Green / Arts Live NYC

Three musicians play wind instruments on a fall day in a plaza.
A trio of musicians plays at Myrtle Wyckoff Plaza, Queens/Brooklyn

NYC DOT is partnering with the City Parks Foundation, Open CultureWORKS, Street Lab, and The Horticultural Society of New York to support arts and cultural activities in public plazas and neighborhood parks through the Green / Arts Live NYC program. Through this partnership we funded 45 grantees to produce a broad range of cultural activities and workshops in neighborhood public spaces. This project also has support from the New York Community Trust, and Con Edison’s Arts Alfresco Series. Learn more about Green / Arts Live NYC

List of Public Space Activations

The cover of the Public Space Activations Catalog featuring a pop up learning activation with brighlty colored blocks.

This catalog includes a list of non-profit organizations available to provide activations in NYC DOT managed public spaces. All activations on the list are free of charge and suitable for New Yorkers of all ages and abilities.

Public Space Activations Catalog – Coming Soon!

Activations’ Categories Include:

Arts and Culture

  • Eligible activities include, but are not limited to, those that engage in some type of performance, such as dance, theater, singing, etc.
  • Activities may also provide lessons, such as teaching individuals how to dance, sing, etc.
Active and Healthy Living
  • Includes exercise classes, meditation, learn-to-ride or bike safety classes, education or outreach related to bike maintenance/storage, demonstrations, and other activations consistent with promoting a healthy and active lifestyle

Learning and Educational Activities

  • Programs that teach science, literature, design, mathematics, social studies, geography, or the environment
Crafts and Design
  • Activities that engage individuals of all ages and abilities to be creative
  • May include a learning or outreach component, such as highlighting the design field

Public Space Activations – Request for Proposals (RFP)

Each fall, NYC DOT releases an RFP for organizations that wish to be included on the Public Space Activations List. Acceptance to the list does not guarantee selection nor funding. In addition to NYC DOT funded opportunities, Public Space Activations Partners may self-fund, or work with our community partners to bring their activations to Open Streets, Plazas and other NYC DOT managed public spaces.

For more information and to be notified when the 2021 Public Space Activations RFP is available, please email activations@dot.nyc.gov.