Special Events: Arts and Culture

Open Culture

Arts and culture is an integral part of NYC DOT’s efforts to enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers in the public realm. Public art, performances and cultural programming presented on NYC DOT property create attractive corridors, activate public space, increase access to arts, cultural and educational resources, establish meaningful partnerships with community stakeholders, and provide paid opportunities to the creative arts sector of NYC.

Temporary Art Program

NYC DOT has programmed over 350 temporary public art installations citywide and continues to pursue unique public art installations in collaboration with a diverse body of artists and partner organizations. Temporary public art beautifies NYC DOT infrastructure by transforming sidewalks, fences, triangles, medians, bridges, jersey barriers, step streets, public plazas and pedestrianized spaces into canvases and foundations for colorful murals, dynamic projections and eye-catching sculptures installed by artists in partnership with community based-nonprofit organizations.

Temporary art is permitted on NYC DOT property for up to 11 months. Interested organizations and artists are invited to submit proposals and qualifications in response to open calls. NYC DOT funds a number of programs but also offers permit opportunities for self-funded projects.

NYC DOT Funded Initiatives

Community Commissions

A metal sculptural bench designed to mimic a hair comb installed on a wide sidewalk
King and Queen Sized Bench by Jason Wallace in partnership with the Washington Heights Business Improvement District

NYC DOT partners with community-based, nonprofit organizations to commission site-responsive public art for NYC DOT property. Community-based partners are identified by NYC DOT that have experience planning public programs or public art, the ability to monitor and maintain the artwork, the capacity to hold liability insurance, and a direct connection to the site. NYC DOT identifies priority sites for temporary art that are in need of beautification, large enough to accommodate artwork, and accessible to a diverse audience. An open call is released annually in partnership with community partners to solicit proposals from professional artists for a list of priority sites. NYC DOT collaborates with selected artists to implement projects within one year of approval. In addition to a project fee, NYC DOT provides engineering support for sculptural installations.

Barrier Beautification

Two cyclists ride along a bike lane protected by a concrete jersey barrier painted with a red and pink design
Shadow Box by Gavin Snider in partnership with NY Cares and JP Morgan Chase & Co.

NYC DOT partners with volunteer service organizations and corporate volunteer programs to paint murals onto jersey barriers located along bike lanes and sidewalks. Barrier sites range in size from 200 to 2000 feet in length. An open call is released annually to solicit design concepts from professional artists for implementation at barrier sites citywide. Selected artists are assigned sites within one of the five boroughs and must be willing to adapt conceptual designs to any location. Artists are responsible for producing stencils and overseeing mural execution with volunteer assistance. NYC DOT collaborates with selected artists to implement projects within two months of approval. In addition to a design fee, NYC DOT provides additional materials and support to realize the murals.

Asphalt Art Activations

Art Mural Hooper St and Division Ave Brooklyn
Up and Down River by Ellen Picken

NYC DOT partners with artists to paint large-scale murals onto repurposed asphalt that has been transformed into pedestrianized public spaces. Curb extensions, slip lane closures, bike share stations, and temporary plazas serve as canvases for Asphalt Art. NYC DOT designates sites near schools, community centers, arts institutions or commercial corridors for Asphalt Art. Asphalt sites range in size from 1,000 to 8,000 square feet. An open call is released annually to solicit qualifications from professional artists to be selected for inclusion in an artist registry, later to be short-listed for specific Asphalt Art opportunities within one of the five boroughs. Artists receive a project fee to execute the mural. Organizations interested in commissioning self-funded asphalt art on a self-selected site should apply through Arterventions and are welcome to select an artist from the Asphalt Art Artist Registry.

Art Display Case Exhibits

Colorful, bright vinyl photograph portraits of men and women exhibited on metal display cases installed on a sidewalk
Supper Club by Elia Alba in partnership with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC).

NYC DOT partners with nonprofit organizations to curate rotating temporary exhibitions within a series of Art Display Cases. Twenty cases are available for installation in sets of four to ten within plazas or on sidewalks citywide. Original artwork is reproduced as vinyl adhesive art panels. Each case can accommodate two art panels measuring a maximum of 43.5 inches (w) by 61.5 inches (h). NYC DOT invites interested organizations to submit proposals on a rolling basis to curate thematic exhibitions related to a current or upcoming exhibit, festival or historic, commemorative event. Organizations are responsible for proposing sites for the exhibits. Sidewalks must be a minimum of 20 feet in width. NYC DOT prints and installs the vinyl panels, and relocates, installs and removes the cases. Artists are ineligible to apply without the support of a partner organization. Given the high demand of the cases, organizations are selected as cases become available or placed on a waiting list for future partnerships. Apply to be an Art Display Case Exhibits partner (pdf)

Construction Banner Wraps

Colorful, watercolor-like mural printed on vinyl installed on chain link fencing
Swish Swash by Andrea Bergart

NYC DOT partners with the New York City Department of Design and Construction and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs to commission artwork to be digitally transferred onto vinyl mesh banners to beautify fencing surrounding active capital construction sites. Artists receive a design fee to develop a final design and prepare necessary files to print the banners. NYC DOT prints and installs the banners with support from the designated site contractor. Open calls to select designs are issued periodically. Private property is ineligible through this program and such proposals must be reviewed by the Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the Department of Buildings.

Self-Funded Initiatives

Arterventions

Two women sit inside a neon sculptural installation on a public plaza
Ziggy by Hou de Sousa in partnership the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership

NYC DOT partners with galleries and nonprofit organizations to provide the necessary permits to commission artwork or relocate existing artwork currently on exhibit in a gallery, alternative art space or in a storage facility to NYC DOT owned property. Organizations are responsible for fully funding the installation and proposing a suitable site. Artwork usually remains on display for three to six months. For many plaza sites, the maximum display period is one month given other events and activities organized by local maintenance partners. NYC DOT issues a list of eligible site types annually to provide direction to interested organizations and artists. Organizations are also encouraged to review the Site Selection Guide before proposing potential sites, and may contact NYC DOT at arts@dot.nyc.gov to confirm site ownership in advance of submission. Artists are ineligible to apply without the support of a partner organization. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Apply to be an Arterventions partner (pdf)

Application Review Process

All applications are reviewed by the DOT Art Advisory Committee, a panel of outside arts professionals representing varying disciplines and all five boroughs, based on the following criteria: public safety, artistic merit, site suitability and artwork durability.


Cultural Programming

NYC DOT hosts large-scale, car-free events, Summer Streets and Car Free Earth Day, to reimagine the streets of New York City as more inviting public spaces without the noise and congestion of cars. Major roadways in Manhattan open for a day or more each year for the public to enjoy free programming. Designed around event-specific themes, activities may include active fitness classes, lively performances, immersive art installations, and educational workshops. Programming is hosted primarily at event Rest Stops.

Interested artists, performers and nonprofit organizations are invited to submit proposals and qualifications in response to open calls released four months in advance of each event. These annual events require interagency coordination with SAPO, NYPD, FDNY, DEP, DOB, DPR and DOHMH. For more information on Cultural Programming, visit The Street Design Manual: Programming Chapter.

Summer Streets

Pedestrians and cyclists travel along Park Avenue during Summer Streets
Pedestrians and cyclists travel along Park Avenue during Summer Streets

Summer Streets is a multi-day, annual car-free event held the first three Saturdays in August. Nearly seven miles of NYC’s streets are open for people to play, run, walk, and bike along Park Avenue and its connecting streets from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park. Programming is presented along the route to promote fitness and outdoor recreation.

Car Free Earth Day

Green pedestrian spaces temporarily takeover a block on Broadway during Car Free Earth Day
Green pedestrian spaces temporarily takeover a block on Broadway during Car Free Earth Day

Car Free Earth Day is a single day, annual car-free event held the Saturday before or after Earth Day, April 22. The event opens thirty blocks of Broadway from Times Square to Union Square for people to explore on foot. Programming is presented within pedestrian plazas to promote activism and education supporting environmentalism, climate change and sustainability.

Programming Types

Public Art

Dive Into the Park Avenue Tunnel
Dive Into the Park Avenue Tunnel installation by Jana Winderen during Summer Streets 2014

NYC DOT commissions interactive public art installations at designated sites along the event route. Artwork must be removed post event hours. Artists are eligible to receive up to $20,000.

Performances

Dancers perform outside on a stage during Summer Streets
Brooklyn Ballet Company dancers perform outside on a stage during Summer Streets

NYC DOT commissions lively performances at designated stages or other sites along the event route. Performers are eligible to receive a minimum of $200 and up to $2,500 based on the duration and number of performances provided. Performances must last a minimum of 30 minutes.

Activities

Nonprofit organizations host creative projects under tents during Summer Streets
Nonprofit organizations host creative projects under tents during Summer Streets

NYC DOT partners with nonprofit organizations to host activities, demonstrations, workshops, classes and historical tours along the event route. Organizations are eligible to receive funding based on the complexity of the proposed activities and the number of committed event dates. NYC DOT provides event equipment and support from event staff.

Experiential Marketing Activations

Sponsor hosts Sports Zone football drills during Summer Streets
Sponsor hosts Sports Zone football drills during Summer Streets

NYC DOT partners with corporate entities to host experiential marketing activations along the event route, which are subject to sponsorship fees. For additional information, email sponsorship@dot.nyc.gov.

Application Review Process

All applications are reviewed by the NYC DOT Cultural Programming Committee based on the following criteria: public safety, organizational capacity, proposal merit and event suitability.


Permanent Art Collection

A large, pink sculpture of a person laying down is set up in a median between two lanes of traffic in Long Island City.
Sunbather sculpture by Ohad Meromi

NYC DOT collaborates with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) to commission permanent public art as part of capital construction projects dictated by the Percent for Art ordinance. NYC DOT is also responsible for managing and maintaining its Permanent Art Collection (pdf). For more information, visit DCLA Percent for Art Program’s website.


Connect with NYC DOT Arts and Culture

Visit NYC DOT Flickr for images of past temporary art installations, permanent art and event programming: www.flickr.com/photos/nycstreets/collections. Sign up for the NYC DOT Arts and Culture e-newsletter Contact: arts@dot.nyc.gov Follow @nyc_dotart on Instagram

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