Open Call: A Showcase for Local Emerging Artists

Presentation Dates

Spring 2019, Summer 2019, and Fall/Winter 2019


  • March 7, 2018: Applications open
  • May 4, 2018, 11:59pm: Applications close
  • June 2018: Panel Review by The Shed’s Staff and External Panelists
  • June – July 2018: Notification of Acceptance
  • July 2018 – May 2019 (minimum 11 months): Work Development Process
  • Spring – Winter 2019: Work Presented

Application Dates

The Open Call application process will open on March 7, 2018, and will remain open until early May 4, 2018. Artists living and/or working across all five boroughs of New York City are invited to apply. Participants will be selected by an invited panel of artists, cultural programmers, academics, and members of The Shed’s staff. 

Application Requirements

  • Bio and Statement
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • 2 Letters of recommendation
  • 3 – 8 Samples of past work
  • 1 – 3 renderings, text, images, audio samples, and/or treatments of proposed work (If applicable)
  • Project Proposal (500 Words)
  • Budget Proposal (Template Provided)
  • Application Processing Fee: $10

Application Instructions

Bio and Statement: A general description of your body of work and/or creative practice.

Resume / Curriculum Vitae: Here you may include past presentations, performances, and/or exhibitions, as well as any relevant residency or education programs.

Letters of Recommendation: Select someone to write knowledgeably about your creative practice and goals, who is able to speak clearly to how you would benefit from a group exhibition like Open Call.

Samples of Past Work: Select images, text, video, or audio samples that best represent your practice.

Examples of Proposed Work: Submit a sample of the work, or what the work may be, as a text, video, audio, or still image (if applicable).

Project Proposal (Maximum 500 words):

  • Title
  • Description
  • Collaborators (if applicable)
  • Duration (if applicable)
  • Discipline(s) (if applicable)

Parameters such as time and space are taken into account. Durational or object-based works may include appropriate dimension descriptions. Multidisciplinary artists may indicate multiple categories. When spatial preferences exist, please include a rationale.

Budget Proposal: The Shed will support Open Call commissions with a fee ranging from $7,000 to $15,000 per artist or collective. The fee is intended to support the development of the work. The Shed will financially support the implementation of the work on site (including installation, maintenance, and deinstallation). You may fill out this form to identify budget requirements, or complete the budget questionnaire on the application site.

Application Processing Fee: An application fee of $10 is collected via SlideRoom, which hosts our application form. SlideRoom accepts all major credit cards, including American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Discover. Please contact SlideRoom support if you need any assistance processing your payment.

Available Space Specifications

Theater: Spring, 2019

  • Space Description: black box theater, wood floors, resilient (not sprung) floor.
  • Work: Can support music, dance, theater, performance art, digital media, fashion, comedy, and film.
  • Sample Configurations: 3 seating options, 3 lighting plots, Capacity: 250 

The McCourt / Plaza: Summer, 2019

  • Space Description: Outdoor space.
  • Work: Can support all performance, literary arts, comedy, and music.
  • Sample Configurations: basic outdoor stage, marley/dance flooring, audio reinforcement.

Gallery: Fall/Winter, 2019

  • Space Description: concrete floors, white walls (can be painted), ceiling height 20 feet, lighting, capacity to hang from all walls and ceiling.
  • Work: Can support visual art, performance art, and fashion.
  • Sample Configurations: Group exhibition.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of Open Call?

Nurturing early-career artists is as vital to The Shed’s mission of fostering a vibrant space for art making as presenting original new commissions by established artists. Through the Open Call program, The Shed will provide early-career, New York-based artists working across all forms and media with  the support, visibility, recognition, space, resources to develop and present original new work in our uniquely flexible space. Open Call is free for participating artists, who will receive commissions ranging from $7,000 – $15,000 to support the creation of their new work.

When does Open Call begin and end?

The work development process begins July 2018, and ends between spring and fall 2019, depending on the presentation period at The Shed.

Open Call will take place across three spaces at The Shed. The public presentation begins in the Theater in spring of 2019, moves to the plaza in summer 2019, and concludes in the gallery in fall/winter of 2019.

What is the Open Call application deadline?

All materials (including letters of recommendation) are due May 4, 2018 by 11:59pm EST. Please be aware that we may receive a high volume of applications on the last day of the application period, which may cause server problems. To avoid this, please submit your application in advance of the deadline.

How much does it cost to apply?

The application processing fee is $10.

Do you accept late applications?

Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications after the due date.

Do you accept paper applications?

No, the application must be completed online.

Do you accept international applicants?

The program accepts applicants living and/or working in New York City.

What kinds of documents does the application require?

Please submit two letters of recommendation, a resume (or CV), and an artist statement. In addition, you may upload 8 – 10 samples of your work in various media formats as appropriate, as well as a project budget and proposal. Please reference The Shed’s Open Call main page for a full list of application requirements.

What is the maximum amount I may request for my commission?

Open Call offers a commissioning fee of $7,000 – $15,000 per artist or collective.

Do I need to pay taxes on the commission fee?

All commission fee compensation is subject to income taxes unless the fee is under $600. The Shed will issue a 1099 at year end and each artist will be responsible for paying income tax on the fee amount.

When will I hear back about my application?

We expect to inform all applicants of the status of their applications between June and July 2018.

Can I receive feedback about my application?

Due to the expected high volume of applications, we are unable to provide feedback.

Do I need to have a specific project in mind before I apply?

Yes. We invite applicants to propose a new work that The Shed will commission and present in our Open Call program. Applications may include a portfolio of works previously completed, alongside the proposed work.

Can you tell me if I should apply?

The Shed’s staff members are unable to advise you on your application.

Is there an education requirement for the residency?

No, there is no education requirement.

Is there an age requirement for Open Call? What are we looking for?

Applicants must be 18 years of age or older to qualify for the Open Call program.

What happens if I am not selected?

All eligible submitted applications will be seen by the Open Call panel. Therefore, the program is an opportunity to have your work and ideas discussed by The Shed Staff as well as a panel of invited expert guests. The opportunity allows for this diverse group to learn about your practice at each stage, which we hope will provide a valuable opportunity for exposure.

Further questions?

Email us at and/or ask on social media; it’s likely someone else may have a similar question.

Nurturing artists at the beginning of their careers is a central commitment for The Shed, as integral to our mission as commissioning and presenting new work by established artists. The Shed has developed the Open Call program to provide invaluable support, visibility, and recognition for NYC early-career artists working across all forms and media to create and present new work in our unique space. 

Participation in Open Call is free; all artists/collectives selected will receive a commissioning fee of $7,000 – $15,000 to support the creation of their work. Open Call will occupy various spaces at The Shed throughout the year, including one of the galleries, the theater, and the outdoor plaza, allowing for artistic diversity in commissioned works. Open Call artists working in the theater and plaza space will follow each other within a presentation period; the gallery space will be presented as a group exhibition.

Apply Now

What are we looking for?

In line with The Shed’s mission, Open Call values proposals that are cross-disciplinary, inventive, and bold. We look for submissions that are both idea-driven and poetic, and which  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 NYC’s diversity of emerging talent in many forms—including artistic media, race, ethnicity, age, identity, physical abilities, and experience.

Because every eligible and complete submitted application will be reviewed by the Open Call panel, the program is an opportunity to present your work and ideas to The Shed’s expert staff and distinguished guest reviewers.

Organized by Emma Enderby, Curator; Tamara McCaw, Chief Community and Civic Program Officer; and Katrina De Wees, Curatorial and Production Assistant.

Eligibility or Parameters/ Criteria

  • Early-career* artists and art collectives (18+ years old; no educational requirement)
  • Disciplines include (but are not limited to): performing arts (including dance, theater, comedy), visual arts (all media), music, literary arts, film, fashion, design, science, and new media), as well as interdisciplinary and new-media work.
  • Must currently live and/or work in NYC.

*Early-career artists who have not yet had numerous opportunities to commission new work in NYC.

A Prelude to

May 1–13, 2018

  • ABRA
  • Kunlé Adeyemi
  • Arca
  • Azealia Banks
  • William Forsythe
  • Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray
  • Tino Sehgal
10th Ave and 31st St

Admission is free. Please register below to be notified when online reservations are available in April, or visit the Prelude site in May for walk-up entry.

From May 1 to 13, The Shed will present A Prelude to The Shed, a free, multi-arts event on an undeveloped lot at Tenth Avenue and 31st Street in Manhattan, one block from our permanent home opening in 2019.

A transformable structure is as vital to the architecture of Prelude as it is for The Shed, a building designed to flexibly accommodate multiple artistic disciplines under one roof. Kunlé Adeyemi of NLE Works has collaborated closely with Tino Sehgal to design a temporary space in which dancers move and reconfigure the structure in a fluid integration of architecture and choreography.

Over the course of these two weeks, each day’s events will be seamlessly connected by Seghal’s This variation, an immersive dance/sound piece, which will in turn be interwoven with a new work by William Forsythe commissioned for Prelude—a radical reimagining of his seminal 1987 ballet In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.

The Shed’s pre-opening dance commission, FlexNYC, will present several dance battles. On multiple evenings Prelude will feature a series of live solo concerts by Atlanta-based R&B singer-songwriter ABRA; Venezuelan electronic music producer, DJ, and songwriter Arca; and New York-based rapper and singer-songwriter Azealia Banks.

Artist Asad Raza will lead an experimental school each morning, based on his ongoing work Schema for a School. Panels on alternate evenings will focus on new institutional models for the 21st century: the politics of ritualized gatherings, and the role of art and culture in social connectivity. Scholar, writer, and curator Dorothea von Hantelmann organized the talks in collaboration with The Shed’s artistic advisor, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Chief Science and Technology Officer, Kevin Slavin.

If you are interested in participating in Schema for a School please apply here.

Frank H. McCourt, Jr., a board member and founding supporter of The Shed, generously donated the site for Prelude.

Prelude is programmed by Alex Poots, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Tino Sehgal, Dorothea von Hantelmann, Julia Simpson, Tamara McCaw, and Kevin Slavin.