About the selection process
Reviewers and Panelists
Yazmany Arboleda is a Colombian American artist, activist, and educator based in New York City. An architect by training, Arboldeda’s practice focuses on creating “Living Sculptures,” people coming together to transform the world through co-creation. Over the past two decades he has created public art projects with communities in India, Japan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Afghanistan, Spain, Colombia, and the United States. He has collaborated with Carnegie Hall, the Yale School of Management, and BRIC among others.
He is currently the artist in residence at NYC’s Civic Engagement Commission and the Community Arts Network. He is the co-founder of limeSHIFT, Remember2019, the Artist As Citizen Conference, and the Future Historical Society. He lectures at UNC, MIT, and Juilliard about the power of art in public space. Yazmany believes that art is a verb and not a noun.
The New York Times proclaims, “Rafiq Bhatia is writing his own musical language,” heralding him as “one of the most intriguing figures in music today.” A guitarist, composer, producer, and sound artist “who refuses to be pinned to one genre, culture or instrument,” Bhatia “treats his guitar, synthesizers, drum machines and electronic effects as architectural elements,” the Times writes. “Sound becomes contour; music becomes something to step into rather than merely follow.”
Bhatia’s 2018 album Breaking English finds a visceral common ground between ecstatic avant-jazz, mournful soul, tangled strings, and building-shaking electronics, resulting in a “stunningly focused new sound” (Chicago Tribune) that resembles “science fiction on a blockbuster scale” (Washington Post). 2020’s Standards Vol. 1 (EP) renders repertoire from the American songbook “completely deconstructed, infused with brand new textures and electronic effects, dreamlike and beautiful” (BBC).
Bhatia has presented his music live in dozens of performances across three continents. He has been commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, Cincinnati Symphony, Walker Art Center, Liquid Music, Newfields, The Jazz Gallery, Toledo Museum of Art, and more. Bhatia has collaborated with Arooj Aftab, Michael Cina, Dave Douglas, Vijay Iyer, Okkyung Lee, Billy Hart, Helado Negro, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Moses Sumney and many others.
Since 2014, Bhatia has been a member of the band Son Lux. Together, they have released three albums and numerous EPs, and given over 500 performances worldwide. Most recently, they scored the film Everything Everywhere All At Once for A24, collaborating with David Byrne, André Benjamin, Mitski, Moses Sumney, Randy Newman, and more.
Bhatia is a Jerome Foundation Composer/Sound Artist Fellow and adjunct faculty of the New School’s Performer-Composer Master of Music program. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Leslie Cuyjet is a dance artist living in Brooklyn. She is most known for her work as a performer, earning a “Bessie” Award in sustained achievement for collaborating with a range of artists including Will Rawls, Juliana F. May, Cynthia Oliver, Jane Comfort, David Gordon, NARCISSISTER, Kim Brandt, Niall Jones, and a canary torsi/Yanira Castro among many others. Pulling from the rigor and principles of her performance practices, she examines personal and dance histories through a choreographic lens that integrates text, video, and live performance. She is driven by research, adapting an ongoing and interdisciplinary artistic practice to dictate medium and form.
Recent honors include Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants for Artists Award, Princeton Hodder Fellow, Movement Research Resident Artist, and MacDowell Fellow. Cuyjet has been supported by residencies at Movement Research, Center for Performance Research, Yaddo, Marble House Project, New Dance Alliance, and MacDowell; for presentations in New York at The Shed, The Kitchen at Queenslab, MoMA PS1, Center for Performance Research, La MaMa Moves! Festival, Gibney Double Plus, Movement Research Fall Festival and Judson Church, and Danspace Draftworks. She is a writer and recently completed an extended co-editorship of the Movement Research online publication, Critical Correspondence. She is a co-founder of the Authentic Movement collective, Duvet.
Anna Harsanyi is a curator, educator, and arts manager. She is dedicated to presenting art in a non-art context and creating sites that invite participation from audiences outside of the art community.
She has organized projects presenting artist engagements within the historic Essex Street Market in New York’s Lower East Side; developed cross-cultural projects about friendship and dreams in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and Seoul, South Korea, respectively; commissioned projects exploring the often hidden or dormant histories for The New School Centennial; and collaborated with Sheetal Prajapati on a series of events centered around play. In 2014, she co-curated with Roxana Bedrule Hot & Cold: Revolution in the Present Tense, a public art project in Timișoara and Cluj, Romania, which presented three artist projects responding to the 25th anniversary of the revolution that ended communism.
Harsanyi has worked in education and public engagement roles at the Art Encounters Biennial, Museum of Modern Art, New York Arts Practicum, A Blade of Grass, and the Guggenheim Social Practice initiative at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She teaches at The New School and New York University.
Ishmael Houston-Jones is a choreographer, author, performer, teacher, and curator. His improvised dance and text work has been performed world-wide. He has received three New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards for collaborations with writer Dennis Cooper, choreographers Miguel Gutierrez and Fred Holland, and composers Chris Cochrane and Nick Hallett. Houston-Jones curated Platform 2012: Parallels which concentrated on choreographers from the African diaspora and postmodernism and co-curated with Will Rawls Platform 2016: Lost & Found, Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, Then and Now.
As an author Houston-Jones’s essays, fiction, interviews, and performance texts have been published in several anthologies. His first book, FAT and other stories, was published in June 2018 by Yonkers International Press.
Houston-Jones is a 2022 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has been supported by the Herb Alpert Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Shaun Leonardo’s performance practice, anchored by his work in Assembly—a diversion program for court-involved youth at the Brooklyn-based, arts nonprofit Recess—is participatory and invested in a process of embodiment.
Leonardo is a Brooklyn-based artist from Queens, New York City. His work has been featured at the Guggenheim Museum, the High Line, and New Museum, and recently profiled in the New York Times and CNN. His solo exhibition, The Breath of Empty Space, was recently presented at MICA, MASS MoCA and The Bronx Museum. And his first major public art commission, Between Four Freedoms, recently premiered at Four Freedoms Park Conservancy.
Leonardo recently joined Recess as co-director, helping guide the organization’s continuous evolution as an engine of social change.
Le’Andra LeSeur is a multidisciplinary artist whose work encompasses a range of media including video, installation, photography, painting, and performance. LeSeur’s body of work, a celebration of Blackness, queerness, and femininity, seeks to dismantle systems of power and achieve transcendence and liberation through perseverance.
LeSeur has received several notable awards including the Leslie-Lohman Museum Artists Fellowship (2019) and the Juried Grand Prize at Artprize 10 (2018). LeSeur appeared in conversation with Marilyn Minter at the Brooklyn Museum, presented by the Tory Burch Foundation and has lectured at RISD and SCAD Atlanta, among others. Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions at The Shed, New York, NY; Marlborough, New York, NY; Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA; A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Assembly Room, New York, NY; Microscope Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Arnika Dawkins, Atlanta, GA; and others.
Monica L. Williams is a conceptual performance artist and artistic leader who specializes in cross-sector collaborations. Over her 20-year career, she has produced, curated, and directed performances dedicated to the African Diaspora with major cultural institutions including TEDWomen, the World Famous Apollo Theater, National Black Arts Festival, and Brooklyn Academy of Music. Her latest work, In Love and Struggle, produced with The Meteor, is currently streaming on Audible.
She is the creator of LoveHustle, a seven-year exploration of artists’ work/life balance, and producing artistic director for Bailey’s Cafe *As Quiet As It’s Kept, a 10-year exploration of home and belonging in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Her design of Kentucky Foundation for Women’s Special Project has received national recognition and philanthropic support for community-based arts with families of the incarcerated. She is the founder of Creative Legacy, a creative self-development company and formally full-time lecturer in the African-American studies department at New York City College of Technology. Williams is a 2020 and 2021 MAP Fund recipient, a 2016 CCCADI Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellow, a Rockwood Leadership Institute Fellow, and a graduate of Wright State University and New York University.
Kiyan Williams is an artist and writer from Newark, New Jersey, who works fluidly across sculpture, video, performance, public art, and 2-D realms. They are attracted to quotidian, unconventional materials and methods that evoke the historical, political, and ecological forces that shape individual and collective bodies.
Williams earned a BA with honors from Stanford University and an MFA in visual art from Columbia University. Their work has been exhibited at the Hammer Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, SculptureCenter, Brooklyn Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, Recess Art, David Kordansky, Lyles and King, and The Shed.
We recommend that prospective applicants participate in one of our information sessions via Zoom. We will hold both general information sessions (including a Q&A) with Shed staff and Q&A sessions with past Open Call artists. Live closed captioning will be available through the Zoom platform for all sessions.
- Wednesday, January 26, 2022, at 1 pm EST
With Open Call artists Justin Hicks, Pauline Shaw, and Cindy Tran
In partnership with Bronx Council on the Arts
Sign up for January 26
- Monday, January 31, 2022, at 6 pm EST
With Open Call artists Troy Anthony, Ladi’Sasha Jones, and Anne Wu
In partnership with Queens Council on the Arts
Sign up for January 31
- Friday, February 4, 2022, at 9 am EST
With Open Call artists Aisha Amin and Kyle Marshall
In partnership with CUNY Arts
Sign up for February 4
Learn about past commissions
Learn more about Open Call
Frequently Asked Questions
Open Call accepts applications from artists who are:
- Early-career artists and art collectives
- 18+ years old
- Currently living or working in New York City
- Able to provide a W9 for payment
- With or without a traditional arts degree and/or training
- Fully vaccinated in order to present work at The Shed
- Working in a range of artistic disciplines, including the visual arts, theater, dance, music, performance, spoken word, literary arts, film, fashion, art and technology, social practice, and new media, as well as across multiple and new disciplines
Yes. In the Submittable application, you will be able to indicate if you are applying as an individual artist or a collective. For collectives, we are only able to accept a maximum of three members at this time.
Both individual artists and collectives can list up to three collaborators in their application. The Shed defines collaborators as those who are key to the early development of the work. For performance proposals, artists do not need to list all performers as collaborators. We understand that artists will refine the collaborative elements of their projects during the commissioning process.
Nonprofit or incorporated collectives are not eligible to apply. Only physical people are.
In line with The Shed’s mission, the Open Call program values inventive and bold proposals that explore and question the urgent issues of our time. We look for submissions that are both idea-driven and poetic, and that can be feasibly realized. We encourage artists to be inclusive and equitable as they engage their ideas and communities with intellectual and aesthetic rigor. We aim to support New York City’s diversity of emerging talent in its many forms—including artistic medium, race, ethnicity, age, identity, physical ability, and other experiences.
Curatorial proposals, such as an individual or a collective of curators proposing a group exhibition, will not be accepted.
All eligible applications are reviewed by Open Call’s reviewers. Applications with the highest scores will then be reviewed during a panel discussion, resulting in the selection of a finalist pool. Some of the artists will be interviewed before final awarding. Through this review process, Open Call offers artists the opportunity to have their work and ideas considered and discussed by a range of experts across different artistic fields as well as The Shed’s staff. In terms of performing arts, evening-length pieces (60 minutes average running time) will be prioritized.
We use five criteria to select the projects:
1) Bold and inventive
- The work is original and presents a unique vision or perspective.
- It is innovative, idea driven, and thought-provoking.
- It embraces risk-taking and experimentation.
2) Artistically rigorous
- The proposal is coherent, thoughtful, and reflects a deep sense of inquiry.
- It demonstrates a professional approach to process and presentation.
- The work samples demonstrate artistic excellence, mastery of skills and techniques.
3) Relevant and resonant
- The proposal is timely, interesting, and thrilling.
- It provides multiple entry points and strives for openness, avoiding a narrow and jargony approach.
- The work is able to hold sustained impact and value for diverse audiences and viewers.
- The work demonstrates a scope and scale likely to be executed as proposed with the allocated resources.
- The proposal budget is exhaustive, clear and reasonable.
5) Demonstrates integrity
- The work and artists seem responsible with ideas, concepts, and references, and avoid appropriation.
- Artists demonstrate a just point of view, and a strong ethical approach to their work.
Applications are at first reviewed to ensure they are complete (we might reach out if there is missing information). They are then assigned to at least three online reviewers each, of which at least two are discipline-specific. A diversity of perspectives is essential during this stage. We ensure that all proposals are also reviewed by at least one Shed staff member.
From that early online review, the top 150 proposals are selected to be discussed in a single multidisciplinary panel. This panel takes place live or online in a synchronous manner. All proposals are sent to panelists in advance for individual review and are then reviewed and discussed by panelists live.
At the end of the panel, a semifinalist list is determined, by order of interest. It is then up to The Shed’s staff to interview semifinalists, check their references, and do a feasibility study, as well as space assignment. All of this helps determine the final awardees.
Unfortunately, due to the amount of applications we expect to receive, we’re not able to provide application feedback.
Online Review: March 2022
Panel Review: June 2022
Notification of Acceptance: August 2022
Open Call Awardees Announcement: October 2022
Gallery and Outdoor Plaza Presentations: Summer 2023
Overlook and Griffin Theater Presentations: Summer 2024
All work will be presented at The Shed. The images in the slideshow above show a variety of presentation configurations in our building’s spaces.
As part of the application process, you will be prompted to suggest the space your project is designed for. However, The Shed’s team will be responsible for final space assignments once all projects are selected.
The Level 2 Gallery will feature visual artworks in a group exhibition, with works varying in scale and medium. Though we do not have specific size limitations for each work, nor restrictions on how they might be installed (works can be free-standing, hanging, wall-mounted, etc.), we encourage artists to be ambitious in their proposals while remaining mindful that other artworks will also inhabit the space. Footprints of sculptural works in the past have ranged in scale, falling mostly within a 20-by-20-foot area. Wall-mounted works have also varied in scale, occupying an area up to 20 feet wide on the wall. The group exhibition will be curated by The Shed’s curatorial team, and commissions will be developed in consultation with the visual arts team. To learn more about past Open Call works presented in the Level 2 Gallery, please visit the 2021 exhibition page.
The Shed’s Plaza, an iconic public space, is formed when the building’s movable outer shell is nested to create a 17,000-square-foot outdoor plaza for large-scale performances. It can accommodate an audience of up to 1,500 (subject to New York City and State Covid guidelines and mandates) and will be set up with the most up-to-date sound and light technology, accommodating all types of performing arts projects. The main stage that will be built will be approximately 40 feet wide by 20 feet deep and 42 inches high, with steps upstage. This space does not allow for outdoor projections or outdoor sculpture/installations. Pieces will be performed once or twice, and can make use of the stage or of the Plaza itself. There will be a rain date scheduled in advance, and performances will be postponed to that date if it rains. To learn more about past Open Call works presented on the Plaza, please visit the 2019 Open Call: Group 3 page. In 2021 due to Covid restrictions, the Plaza was covered, and pieces were presented in a unique set up that will not be used in 2023. More about these 2021 artists can be found on the main Open Call page.
The Griffin Theater, on Level 6, is a black box theater with resilient (not sprung) wood floors and reconfigurable raisers. It can be used as a proscenium-style performance space for audiences of about 200-400 attendees, with a stage roughly 40 feet wide by 20 feet deep with wings on each side, located on the west side of the theater. Pieces in The Griffin Theater will run for three consecutive performance dates. This space allows for projections and professional lighting, but in this configuration it does not allow for open-plan seating or immersive participatory pieces. To learn more about past Open Call works presented in The Griffin Theater, please visit the 2019 Open Call: Group 1 page.
The Overlook is our recently modified performance space overlooking The McCourt located on Level 4. As an open-plan space it is 50 feet wide by 86 feet deep, with approximately 19 feet to the grid. Pieces in the Overlook will run for three performance dates. To learn more about the layout of this space, download this pdf floor plan.
Pieces/artists usually get assigned to one space. There have been cases of artists showing work throughout spaces, or performing arts showing in the gallery. This will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
For social practice projects, where the process might be centered on and the project might take place in community, the Shed presentation will be analyzed and defined on a case-by-case basis.
The Shed aims to reduce disparities in New York’s cultural ecology through equity, inclusion, and access. Artists with disabilities are encouraged to apply to Open Call.
The Open Call Submittable Form is accessible to screen readers. All Open Call information sessions will include live captioning, ASL interpretation, and audio descriptions.
All of The Shed’s spaces are wheelchair accessible. ASL interpretation, assistive listening devices, captioning, and verbal descriptions may be provided during the development of work and will be available during Open Call presentations for designated performances, exhibition pieces as needed, and special gallery tours.
An itemized budget template is provided as part of the application and must be completed with every type of expense you expect the project to include. There’s space for additional funding and additional costs; please include everything you may need to realistically and feasibly realize your project.
Some items to include are already noted, such as artist and collaborator fees, designers, production support, stage managers, art supplies, fabrication costs, rehearsal and/or studio space as needed, color/audio correction as needed, set and costumes, administration costs, specific production materials, and any extra equipment specific to the piece that is not part of The Shed’s inventory (beyond regular AV/projection equipment). VR/AR headsets, or even noise cancelling headsets, are not included in The Shed’s inventory and will need to be provided by the artist. Because every project is different and we don’t know what you’ll require, please feel free to add any line items as needed. Artists may need to conduct independent research to include actual costs. Suggested lead artist fees range from $1,500 – 2,000 depending on the project. The W.A.G.E. website offers a good resource for suggested creative/production fees broken down by category.
Two-way trucking at the time of the performance/installation/deinstallation will be covered by The Shed, from and to one location in the five boroughs of New York City. Parking in the area for meetings or during the performance is not covered by The Shed.
We do not suggest you plan on self-raising more than 15 percent over the $15,000. If you do have some support that exceeds that number, you’re able to include it.
The Shed will support Open Call projects with a commissioning fee of up to $15,000 per artist or collective, paid in installments linked to project milestones.
This commissioning fee is intended to support the development and realization of the work, which includes artist and collaborator fees, fabrication costs, art supplies, rehearsal and/or studio space as needed, administration costs, costumes and other production materials, and any extra equipment specific to the piece that is not part of The Shed’s inventory. Suggested lead artist fees range from $1,500-2,000 depending on the project. Lead awarded artists will contract and pay collaborators themselves.
Additionally, The Shed will provide in-kind presenting support for implementation and installation of the work on-site, including crew labor, design coordinator fees, and specific rentals among other considerations.
No other revenue will be assigned to the artists. Tickets are offered to the public for free, and no merchandise can be sold at The Shed.
The Shed cannot actively help with garnering extra financial support, although we can sometimes act as a fiscal sponsor and can also write letters of recommendation/intention as needed.
Examples of past work samples include photo, audio, video, and print documentation.
Examples of future work samples may include select drawings, sketches, rehearsal or work-in-progress presentations, audio and/or video documentation, and renderings, etc. that best represent your idea. For performing arts proposals, we suggest audio and/or moving images. For visual arts proposals, still images work well.
Audio and video files should be no longer than one minute. Written samples have a limit of three pages. Text documents uploaded that include links to files will not be considered.
Visual descriptions provide information about the visual appearance of spaces, objects, people, and more to reviewers and panelists who are blind or have low vision. They are plain text descriptions of images, gifs, videos, and other media.
When writing visual descriptions, consider adding features such as colors, medium, placement of objects, names of people, clothes, animals, emotions, and environments. If your media has text in it, consider writing out the image text verbatim and be sure to use proper spelling, capitalization, spacing, and grammar.
Some projects may have been shown in the past, for example in school, a work-in-progress showing, or included in a public program like a reading or workshop. In the Submittable application, you will be prompted to explain how your project would transform in The Shed’s presentation and how your proposed work or any its components have been shared in the past in any form.
We are looking for new work but understand that each artist has different development processes, with moments of public showing and feedback as part of them.
As this is a commissioning program, we ask that artists agree to premiere their commissioned work at The Shed.
As for exclusivity clauses, we have tended to avoid them. Though, we do request that you don’t present similar work in New York City two weeks before your Shed presentation, mostly with the intention of ensuring you’ll have an audience for your presentation as part of Open Call.
This depends on each medium and project, but some collaborators to consider include directors, producers, stage managers, designers (lighting, space, audio, graphic, print), editors, dramaturgs, musicians, carpenters, playwrights, cast members, composers, choreographers, vocal coaches, song writers, and videographers. You don’t have to have a full team at the time of the application, but ideally you’ll consider them when building your project budget. As a team we can help you define which roles will be helpful and even recommend names as needed.
Collaborators do not need to be NYC-based, but you will need to secure any transportation and lodging costs for your team.
References will only be contacted in the case your proposal is chosen as a semi-finalist project, right before the final selection.
You should include someone you’ve worked with, collaborated with, trained with, etc. in the past, who knows you and your work and can speak about it. Ideally, they should have an institutional role or some recognition in the field.
Over the course of the Open Call program, each commission will be developed, designed, and produced in collaboration with The Shed’s team. You should expect your project to change and evolve in collaboration with the institution. We expect you to dream big (yet feasibly), and then it will be up to our collaborative efforts to adapt your vision to the space, time, and resources available for each work.
Our curatorial, producing, and production teams will work closely with each artist or collective throughout critical moments of the project’s development, creating a customized plan that integrates accessibility into each piece.
We have incorporated mandatory work-in-progress showings throughout the development of the pieces, as well as specific fabrication milestones, customized to each individual piece and process.
Learn more about Open Call
Thank you to our partners
Additional support for Open Call is provided by Jody and John Arnhold | Arnhold Foundation.
The creation of new work at The Shed is generously supported by the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Commissioning Fund and the Shed Commissioners. Major support for live productions at The Shed is provided by the Charina Endowment Fund.