Outdoor Public Programs

Governors Island offers a unique opportunity for organizations to reach new audiences in an unforgettable setting. At the Trust for Governors Island, we work with cultural and educational organizations to host independent exhibitions, performances, art installations, festivals, screenings, concerts, workshops and more.

Sample Programs that would require an Outdoor Public Program:
  • Arts and cultural programming, such as festivals, concerts and performances
  • Educational programming, including talks, workshops, walking tours and other activities that are open to the public
  • Games and other recreational events that are either free or ticketed

Please note: An accepted proposal does not guarantee that you will be able to hold a program or event on Governors Island. Programs are not confirmed until a signed agreement has been received and approved by both parties.

Proposals from individual artists: The Trust welcomes inquiries from individual artists interested in showing work on Governors Island. However, only artists working directly with presenting organizations can apply through this proposal process (if you are an artist partnering with an organization to produce a project, the organization should apply on behalf of the team). For information regarding our commissions program, please contact commissions@govisland.org.


Proposals are currently being accepted for outdoor programs beginning in May 2019 or later. For more information about indoor public programming, click here.

Proposals are reviewed and selected on a rolling basis. Please note that accepted programs are not final until a permit or license agreement is executed. All proposals must be submitted at least two months before the program or event would take place.

Due to the large volume of responses, our review process can take up to four weeks. Please plan accordingly and submit early enough that you will have ample time to plan your program after hearing back from us.

Available Spaces

  • Applicant’s track-record of producing and organizing other exceptional programs or events
  • Emphasis on public participation across diverse audiences
  • Production plan and feasibility of the program based on the Island’s operational capacities and infrastructure

  • To help maintain our buildings and green spaces, a site fee and security deposit will be applied to all ticketed and revenue-generating events. Please note that a special rate for nonprofit organizations is available. Site fees will be estimated based on the information in your proposal.
  • The Trust does not charge site fees for programs in indoor and outdoor spaces that are free and open to the public. However, please note that a security deposit, fully reimbursable after the event, will be required for free public programs. Security deposits are to cover any accidental damage to the Island’s historic buildings or natural turf lawns.
  • For both free and revenue-generating events, additional costs associated with dedicated services such as ferries, custodial services, grounds crew consultation and security may apply based on the size, timing and other parameters of your program.

  • Before submitting your proposal, please review the Island’s rules and regulations here.
  • Program organizers will be required to secure and provide proof of insurance coverage that meets the Trust’s minimum requirements, including commercial general liability insurance, workers compensation (if applicable) and automotive insurance.
  • Only vehicles that are carrying supplies and materials for load-in and load-out will be allowed to drive onto the Island before 10am. Vehicles for personal use are not allowed at any time. Registering vehicles for ferry access requires at least 48 hours’ notice. All vehicles must provide proof of insurance at the time of registration. The full Island vehicle policy will be provided as part of your permit agreement.
  • Program organizers are required to staff their program sites whenever they are open to the public, with staffing plans subject to approval by the Trust.

Apply For Permit

If you are not yet a registered user, you will be prompted to sign up before you can fill out the application.

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Have more questions before applying? Read through these FAQs, or check out our Rules and Regulations.

  • Selection criteria include:
    • Fit or alignment with our vision to infuse the Island with dynamic arts and cultural programming, as well as educational opportunities in the arts, sciences and nature
    • Applicant’s track-record of producing and organizing other exceptional programs or events
    • Emphasis on public participation across diverse audiences
    • Engagement with the Island as a site, including its histories, local ecologies, architecture and relationship to New York City
    • Feasibility of the program based on the Island’s operational capacities and infrastructure.

Our typical response time is 2-3 weeks. If you need to get in touch with us, you can reach out to the Programming team at programming@govisland.org.

·         While you can request a specific area on the Island as part of your proposal, please note that organizations proposing programs for indoor areas will not have the opportunity to select a specific location. For accepted proposals, the Trust will find an appropriate site based on the proposed program and production setup.

·         Events that are ticketed, charge admission or take place after or before public hours are subject to site fees, to be determined by The Trust during the proposal review process.

·         Programs and events that are free and open to the public are eligible to have site fees waived.

·         Programs/events may require additional services such as dedicated security, ferry, custodial and emergency medical services. In these cases, the organization producing the event/program will be responsible for these costs.

Private and ticketed public events can be held on the Island after or before public hours, as well as during the off-season with special permission from the Trust. Please note that events that do not take place during normal public hours may involve additional costs associated with dedicated Island services, such as extended ferry service or security.

  • Event dates can be placed on hold after the Trust has received and reviewed your proposal and statement of intent. Programs are not confirmed, and dates cannot be placed on hold until a signed agreement has been received and approved by both parties.

Visitors are not permitted to bring their own alcohol to Governors Island; however, alcohol can be served and consumed at authorized events on the Island. Alcohol is only permitted in areas designated by the Trust and only served to those over 21 years of age. Program and event organizers are responsible for securing a permit from the New York State Liquor Authority to serve alcohol. The Trust must receive a copy of the liquor permit and approve all logistical plans for the area where alcohol will be served.

Events or programs anticipating 4,000 or more attendees are required to provide additional ferry service, at their expense, to supplement Governors Island's regularly scheduled ferries. The Trust will work with event producers to create a ferry schedule that works within the Island's existing operation and make recommendations for ferry operators and capacities.

Governors Island has tents of varying sizes available for programs to rent, and more information on tent specs can be provided upon request. Governors Island does not own a stage, generators or AV equipment; if your event/program requires such equipment, please indicate this in your proposal.

Currently there is not high-speed internet available on Governors Island. Programs requiring Wi-Fi should plan to use a hotspot or mobile Wi-Fi device.

Electricity varies throughout the Island and is not available on many event sites. If your program requires electricity please inform the Trust as it may be necessary to hire an electrician to make these connections, or provide generators, at the cost of the applicant. Some areas of Governors Island currently have potable water. Please include your needs for water in your proposal. Potable water is not available at most private/ticketed event sites.

The Trust will work with event producers to create a comprehensive Operational Plan including (but not limited to): a site plan, run of show, ferry transportation schedule, security/staffing plans to best work within the Island's daily operations.   

Nonprofit organizations can solicit donations, but only in the designated space reserved for your event or program.

The Trust discourages the sale of commercial products. The sale of educational materials, such as books or printed materials related to the proposed program are permitted upon review. For outdoor festivals and events, outside food vendors are permitted and subject to standard New York City DOHMH policies. Sales of any type should be noted in event/program proposals for review by the Trust. If you’re interested in selling art at your program or event, please get in touch with us directly at programming@govisland.org.