Downtown Brooklyn Public Art + Placemaking Fund



The Downtown Brooklyn Public Art and Placemaking Fund provides grants for eligible public art, performance, and accessibility projects that serve to enhance public space, increase access to cultural programming, and connect the neighborhoods of Downtown Brooklyn.

**Due to the large number of applications received the review is taking longer than originally planned. We anticipate adjustments to schedules for projects that were intended to begin in October or November**


Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP) and DUMBO Improvement District (DUMBO) are seeking proposals for the Downtown Brooklyn Public Art + Placemaking Fund. The $600,000 fund, made possible as part of New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), will award grants of up to $50,000 for public art and performance projects, and improvements to cultural spaces that serve to connect neighborhoods, revitalize public spaces, and increase access to cultural programming within the State-designated DRI study area.

Winning projects will be announced in fall 2020, for implementation from November 2020 to November 2021. See below for detailed information on important dates and application process.

DBP and DUMBO will oversee the selection process to review applications and determine awards. A project review committee has been formed, with members including: Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo; the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities; Brooklyn Arts Council; BRIC Arts; BAM; Smack Mellon; the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance; NYCHA Tenant Associations; NYC Department of Transportation; NYC Parks; and others.

Informational Webinar
A virtual information session was held on Monday, July 13 @ 1PM.

A recording of the session can be found here. A record of the webinar Q+A can be found here.


Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) is a program which invests $100M annually into transforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities where New Yorkers want to live, work and raise families.

Selection is based on the downtown’s potential for transformation, and each community is awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community’s vision for revitalization.

The Downtown Brooklyn DRI Proposal

In 2018, DBP and DUMBO applied for and were awarded a $10M grant through the DRI program. The proposal drew on the Brooklyn Strand Plan - specifically addressing the need to reconnect the core of downtown to the waterfront and to invest in underserved neighborhoods.

The application goals included:

  • Rectify mistakes of urban renewal
  • Connect Downtown Brooklyn neighborhoods
  • Advance equity by extending educational & entrepreneurial opportunities to underserved communities
  • Link the Brooklyn Cultural District and DUMBO arts hubs
  • Broaden the benefits of Downtown Brooklyn’s growth to better serve local residents, businesses, and workers

It is these goals that inform the DTBK Public Art + Placemaking Fund.

Other projects selected to receive funding under the $10M Downtown Brooklyn DRI fund include: Commodore Barry Park upgrades; safe crossings at the intersection of Tillary and Navy Streets; a new pedestrian crossing at St. Edwards Street and Flushing Ave.; a more accessible public entrance to the Brooklyn Navy Yard; a digital tech center at the Ingersoll Community Center; and transformation of Walt Whitman Library into a modern community hub. All projects were selected to address the Downtown Brooklyn DRI goals of re-connecting the core of Downtown Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and DUMBO, and investing in areas that have been traditionally underserved.

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Read more about Downtown Brooklyn’s winning proposal here.

Read more about the State's Downtown Brooklyn Downtown Revitalization Initiative here.

Project Location:

Funding is available for projects that are implemented within the Downtown Revitalization Initiative study area. Find a list of potential sites here, and a map with locations here.

Applicant Eligibility:

Applicants who are eligible for awards include artists and cultural organizations that are:

  • Individual artists, performers or other cultural producers
  • For-profit entities
  • Not-for-profit entities

Eligible Activities:

Eligible activities fall under the following categories:

  • Public art and placemaking installations and performances that enliven public spaces and engage stakeholders throughout the district. Eligible expenses for funding may include artists’ fees, materials, and equipment for interactive installations and sculptures, murals, and performances / events that are accessible and free to the public.
  • Improvements to cultural spaces that improve accessibility, enabling underserved populations to have equitable access to arts and cultural programming. Eligible improvements must be to areas or spaces that are accessible to the public with a wider public benefit, not administrative office space. The funds would be disbursed to identified organizations and institutions within the DRI area with recognized accessibility improvement needs.

Ineligible Activities:

Ineligible uses of funds include:

  • Acquisition costs; new construction (including in-fill buildings); improvements to structures owned by religious or private membership-based organizations; or improvements to municipally owned and municipally operated buildings (except as outlined below*); furnishings; appliances; electronics; tools; disposable supplies; business equipment; non-permanent fixtures; and administrative fees.
  • Funds for capital improvements may not be used for site work or ancillary activities on a property including but not limited to: septic systems/laterals; grading; parking lots; sidewalks; patios; decks; garages; sheds; landscaping; fences; free standing signs; and general maintenance or repairs.

*If a building is owned by a municipality and has a formal agreement, structure, or lease with a not-for-profit organization or business for use of the building, the not-for-profit or the business can apply for funds if an agreement between the municipality and tenant are in place.

Projects must take place within the Downtown Brooklyn Study Area, as identified by the State during the DRI process. A map of the area can be found here. A list of potential sites can be found here, with the sites mapped here. Any viable location within the DRI study area may be proposed, and you may propose more than one potential location for your project.

Selection committees will be assembled with expertise to review and evaluate applications. Each committee will create a short list of finalists to interview prior to making final recommendations using the criteria below.

Project selection criteria will afford priority to projects that:

  • Are located in underserved areas
  • Are visually prominent
  • Enliven public spaces and engage stakeholders throughout the district
  • Increase connectivity between Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard
  • Increase accessibility to cultural spaces offering free public programming
  • Are innovative and bring new forms of artwork and cultural activity to the DRI study area
  • Serve to enhance other Downtown Brooklyn DRI projects

Projects will be scored based on the following criteria:

  • Readiness - projects that provide proof of overall feasibility and readiness, such as proof of ownership, ability to gain necessary permits, documentation that 100% of financing for the project is in place, and reasonable production timeline.
  • Excellence, innovation, and increase in access to the arts.
  • DRI Priorities - projects that advance the goals and priorities of the DRI program.
  • Impact - projects that are visually prominent, increase connectivity, have cultural value.
  • Economic Impact - projects leveraging DRI grant funds with private investment or other matching fund, and bring new audiences to the area.

Funding will be allocated in the following manner:

  • $150k in grants up to $50k for improvements to cultural spaces within the DRI study area that are open to the public, enabling underserved populations to have equitable access to arts and cultural programming.
  • $375k in grants of up to $50k for public art installations or performance projects within the DRI study area.
  • In the event that the entire amount in either category is not awarded within two years, funds may be allocated to the other category.
  • A $15k contingency will be set aside.

Match Requirements for Capital Improvement Projects only:

  • Match requirements apply to all capital improvement projects.
  • DBP may award up to $50k in DRI grant funds, per project, not to exceed 75% of the total project cost.
  • Match requirements must be realized on a project-by-project basis.
  • In-kind match is not eligible.
  • Costs incurred prior to the effective date of the grant agreement are not eligible for reimbursement and not eligible as a match

Soft Costs

  • Eligible soft costs include Architecture, Engineering, and Environmental Testing expenses.
  • Soft costs for capital projects require matching funds, an in-kind match is not eligible.
  • Soft costs incurred for work on buildings that eventually prove infeasible and do not receive other investments will not be reimbursed with DRI funds. Therefore, reimbursements for soft costs may not be requested as part of a partial payment prior to project completion.

Proof of Available Financing:

  • Property owners, or not-for-profit organizations or businesses with a formal agreement, structure, or lease for use of the building, are responsible for the total cost of the project. Grants will reimburse the above at the conclusion of the project after all costs are paid. Proof of available financing through cash in bank, secured loan commitments, and/or project lines of credit is required.

Schedule

June 24: Announce Call for Proposals
July 13: Virtual information session
August 3: Final date for posted questions
August 17: Application Deadline
September: Announce First Round Projects
October: Award contracts
Oct 2020 - Oct 2021: Project Implementation

How to Apply

Applications are no longer being accepted.

Applicants are required to submit:

  • Basic project information, partner(s), artist(s), title, description
  • Describe how this project fits into the context of Downtown Brooklyn and what aspects of connectivity it addresses
  • Indicate preferred site
  • Preliminary budget
  • Letter of commitment from a partner organization (if applicable)
  • Work samples up to 10 (provide size requirements & caption info) can be a combination of video, sound clips or jpegs.
  • Artist Bio/CV PDF, if more than one artist combine into one document. Highlight past experience in significant projects/exhibitions/performances in the private realm or outdoors. (Maximum 3 pages)
  • References: names and contact info for three people. We will only contact references at the finalist stage.

Please note: there is a fee of $10 per application. This is the fee charged by the application portal, not by DBP or DUMBO. If this fee is a barrier to your applying, please contact us at DTBK.DRI@downtownbrooklyn.com

What types of projects will be funded?

  • Public art and placemaking installations and performances that enliven public spaces and engage stakeholders throughout the district.
  • Public art installations that have an ongoing duration
  • Public performances that are event-based projects
  • Projects that enhance accessibility. Capital improvements or other enhancements that broaden the enable underserved populations to have equitable access to arts and cultural programming

How is this initiative affected by Covid-19?

We seek projects that welcome people to the public realm through cultural exchange. Since there is uncertainty about safety and movement in public spaces, projects should be nimble based on changing conditions. DBP will work with selected applicants to adapt their concepts to current safety regulations.

Who can apply?

  • Artists, performers or other cultural producers may apply as individuals or a collective with a one point person.
  • For-profit entities.
  • Not-for-profit entities.

Do artists or organizations need to be located in the DRI Study Area?

While project locations must be within the DRI study area, there is no residency requirement for applicants. We want to support the projects that will be most invigorating for the community and responsive to its needs. We are open to all artists and organizations and will be looking for those that best address the challenge of connectivity.

Can applicants make more than one proposal?

Yes. But individual applications are required for each project.

Must a location be selected?

Applicants can identify up to three preferred locations for their proposals, as long as they are in the DRI study area. If you have not selected a location, please indicate the type of location that will work best for your project.

Will Project Review Committee Members be reviewing their own proposals, if they have applied?

No. Any members of the committee who have proposals must recuse themselves from deliberations on their own projects.

Contact Us

Questions? Send us an email and we will get back to you.