Points of Promise: Artist Open Call

This work is part of Points of Promise, an umbrella initiative; learn more about it here.


    Now seeking artists to bring fresh ideas for community engagement around issues shaping Gowanus. Applications due April 26, 2024.

    Artist Open Call

    Launched by Van Alen Institute in 2023, Points of Promise is a multiyear initiative to create public art and design tools that support civic engagement and foster connection among Gowanus residents in the midst of significant neighborhood redevelopment.

    For the next Points of Promise installation in Fall 2024, Van Alen is currently seeking artists and designers to help increase public awareness of the evolving risk and impact of flooding in Gowanus. The project seeks fresh ideas for community engagement in order to provide Gowanus residents with new, enriching ways to stay informed about issues shaping the neighborhood. To apply, complete the 2024 Open Call form by Friday, April 26, 2024.

    Applying artists should have:

    • At least two years of professional experience as an artist
    • Completed at least two public-facing and/or community-engaged projects
    • A practice based in the New York City metropolitan area; Gowanus-based artists and those impacted by local flooding are especially encouraged to apply

    Please note the Open Call is not a request for proposals (RFP). In early May, a shortlist of applicants will receive the RFP and a winning proposal will be chosen by committee in June. Shortlisted artists will receive $2,000 upon submission of their design proposals. The winning artist will be awarded $50,000 to complete the project, with low bono engineering review services provided by Silman.

    Artists invited to submit a proposal will be asked to consider the following:

    • How do residents currently deal with living in the flood zone? What are their stories? Is it possible to make their experiences, along with the physical impacts of flooding, more visible?
    • Looking ahead, how might the threat of flooding evolve over time in Gowanus? How might the neighborhood’s communities be impacted in the future? How might your piece inform the public of efforts led by community groups and/or city leaders to help Gowanus manage water and bounce back from flooding?
    • There’s a lot of new construction in Gowanus’ flood zone – how might you reach potential future residents about flooding in Gowanus, in addition to long-time residents?

    Proposed projects can range in the nature of their form — from a poster campaign to a physical installation serving as an info hub to a performance-based piece, and everything in between. Points of Promise is open to the full range of possibilities, but proposals must make current and incoming residents conscious of the shifting impact of flooding in Gowanus.

    Info Sessions

    Zoom Info Session and Q&A

    Tuesday, April 9, 5 pm on Zoom
    Recording will be posted here following the meeting.

    Drop-in Hours

    Wednesday, April 10, 5–6:30 pm
    Thursday, April 25, 5–6:30 pm
    Van Alen Institute
    303 Bond Street, Brooklyn


    Shiloah Coley

    Programs Associate

    About Points of Promise

    In 2021, the New York City Council approved the Gowanus Neighborhood Plan, transforming (or “rezoning”) former manufacturing sites into residential and mixed-use properties, including an estimated 8,200 new apartments. Residents and community organizers have been working to ensure current Gowanus residents benefit from the rezoning. Their advocacy resulted in the 56 Points of Agreement (POAs) — commitments made by New York City to support housing, infrastructure, public space, community amenities, and business programs. In total, NYC will invest $450 million for these improvements in Gowanus. Approximately $200 million of that total will address high priority needs in Gowanus’ NYCHA developments.

    Points of Promise calls on artists and designers to create local temporary art installations or public space activations that help inform Gowanus residents about these immense changes. Each year, artists are invited to respond to an RFP (request for proposals) that addresses a topic present in the 56 Points of Agreement (POAs). To create these public art and design tools in truly community-led and responsive ways, Van Alen seeks artists and designers with demonstrated experience facilitating community-engaged social practice work that centers the lived experiences and needs of the respective communities they collaborate with.

    This initiative was developed with the support of a selection committee of Gowanus residents and local stakeholders from the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Gowanus Houses Tenants Association, the Gowanus Oversight Task Force, and Gowanus Mutual Aid.

    Points of Promise

    Public art and design tools to support civic engagement in Gowanus amidst the neighborhood’s redevelopment.

    With Your Voice

    Coming soon! Created by Juanli Carrión and Rodolfo Kusulas, With Your Voice will envision the major changes coming to Gowanus, Brooklyn.