Expression of Interest: Percent for Art at NYC Borough-Based Jails
Permanent Public Art Commission
Budget: up to $900,000 ea.
Deadline: 9/13/23 for Brooklyn BBJ, rolling for others
Open to All Professional Artists

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) Percent for Art program, in conjunction with New York City Department of Correction (DOC) and the New York City Design and Construction (DDC) is issuing this Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) to engage an artist or artist team (Artist) to create permanent public artworks as part of the upcoming Borough-Based Jails Program. (BBJP)

Commissioned by the New York City Percent for Art program, selected Artists will create a permanent artwork for the one of 4 facilities planned as part of the BBJP. (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens)

DCLA is particularly interested in engaging artists for this project who demonstrate:

  • relevant lived experience relating to the criminal justice system
  • work which engages with the criminal justice system, and its impacts
  • a history of successful social engagement
  • ability to transform interior spaces in a positive way
  • local or community connections

Additionally, artists should demonstrate experience engaging a variety of audiences relevant to this project including: 

  • people who are incarcerated inside
  • local community/neighborhood where the project is located
  • loved ones visiting
  • staff / professional services providers


New York City has embarked on the biggest justice reform effort in its history, expressed in one of the largest public works projects it has undertaken in decades. The City has committed to closing the detention centers on Rikers Island and building four new smaller, safer and fairer borough-based detention centers at a time when New York City has the lowest crime and incarceration rates of any large city in the United States. This is part of a once in many generations opportunity to build a smaller and more humane justice system that includes grounded in dignity and respect, offering better connections to and space for families, attorneys, courts, medical and mental health care, education, therapeutic programming and service providers.

These buildings are anticipated to be in service for over 80 years and will be designed for efficient use of energy and low greenhouse gas emissions in alliance with NYC’s low carbon goals and resilient to our climate-change-related risks of increased heat, increased precipitation, and sea level rise.

The selection process for each facility is organized in two phases. 

Phase One is a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) in which artists may respond with samples of past work and supplementary materials. Artists do not submit a proposal as part of the REFI. The City, in partnership with a committee of local arts and design professionals and community stakeholders will select at least 4 artists as Finalists to proceed to Phase Two of the selection process. 

During Phase Two, the City will notify the selected Finalists and invite them to submit a site-specific conceptual proposal. Finalists will attend a project orientation and receive support from Percent for Art staff over the course of proposal development. Finalists will present their proposals for review by a selection committee organized by DCLA. Finalists will receive an honorarium of $500 for submission of a conceptual proposals.

Submissions will only be accepted using this online application program. Artists may submit for this RFEI on an ongoing basis. Submitting once, will allow an Artist to be considered for all of the upcoming BBJP projects, but to be considered for specific BBJP projects, RFEIs must be received by midnight on: 

  • BBJ Brooklyn: September 13, 2023.
  • BBJ Manhattan: TBD
  • BBJ Queens: TBD
  • BBJ Bronx: TBD 

Interested artists must submit the following application materials online as described below:
                       1. Statement of Interest (250 words max)
                       Explain your interest in this project and describe what you feel the public art's purpose at the BBJs should be. Is there a specific BBJ site you are most interested in being considered for? (All applicants will be considered for each of the BBJ sites.)
                        2. Connection to the justice system (250 words max)
                        Explain your connection to the justice system, as relevant to this project.
                        3. Artist’s Statement (250 words max)
                        Explain your creative process, including your motivations, inspirations behind, mission, and methods. Include your choice of mediums and use of tools and techniques. The artist statement should cover the “why” you do things and not the “who you are”.
                        4. Artist Bio (250 words max)
                        A brief description of your life, “who you are” and artistic career.
                        5. Work Samples
                        Provide 10-15 digital images of recent works.
                        6. Work Sample List
                        Provide a list corresponding to each of the submitted works, including title, date, materials and dimensions. Include 1-2 sentence descriptions as needed.


    Please direct all inquiries regarding this RFEI to    

NYC Department of Cultural Affairs