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Art and Social Activism Festival

  • Art and Social Activism 32 Orchard Street New York, NY, 10002 United States (map)

Artist Application Period: June 26 to July 24


The theme of the 2019 inaugural exhibition is Dignity: Care for Each Other and Our Planet.

The committee will look particularly for works of art that explore themes of identity, inequality, immigration, forced separation, mental and physical health, personal loss or suffering, and environmental degradation.

Who Should Apply

We are accepting applications from artists selling independently, artist collectives, alternative spaces, nomadic galleries, small and medium size galleries who nominate an individual artist. Artists working in all media are invited to apply.

Curatorial Committee Selection Process

Because of the breadth and sensitivity of the festival's subject matter, we created a curatorial committee in order to incorporate a broad range of ideas and viewpoints.

From submissions to the Open Call, the curatorial committee will select the artists and works of art to be shown in the exhibition.

The committee is comprised of artists, art historians, museum professionals, and social justice advocates. They are: Nicholas Cohn, Monika Fabijanska, Kevin B. Chen, Courtney Miller (aka Keris Love), and R. Leopoldina Torres. More information on the committee members.

Exhibitor Fees

There is a $25 application fee, which directly supports a portion of the honorarium paid to the curatorial committee. Accepted applicants can choose between six and twelve linear feet of exhibition space at a cost of $1,650 or $3,300 respectively to help cover the gallery rental cost and installation fees. There is a 20% commission on all works sold during the festival.

Benefits of Participation

This unique month-long festival will provide artists the opportunity to present and sell their work in a high-profile festival, organized by a renowned committee of curators, installed in a professional gallery setting in New York City's Lower East Side art district. Through committee members and sales and public relations staff we will initiate personal introductions to collectors, museum curators, gallerists, and art press that will help to amplify sales during the festival, and build relationships to advance the artist's careers. How to apply.

The Need for a New Approach: Art and Social Activism is responding to the exclusionary practices of the current art market.

We understand that this new approach may be uncomfortable to some artists and gallerists but we see this as a necessary response to the current art market, and the need for a collaborative platform centered around inclusion and accessibility.

The high cost of rent has forced many small and medium size galleries to close, leaving talented gallerists, curators, and artists with fewer opportunities to exhibit and sell work.

Our festivals uplift this community; artists who have chosen to sell independently as well as nomadic and alternative gallery spaces. We heighten their visibility and find new ways to introduce their work to collectors, museums, art press and the public.

Unlike art fairs which are short in duration, offer limited curation, and a crowded visitor experience, our socially engaged festivals will be on view for four weeks, featuring exhibitions installed by a Curatorial Committee who select artists via an “open call” offering an engaging cultural and educational experience that will be significantly more rewarding to participating artists and galleries as well as visitors seeking socially conscientious art. More about the new approach.

Additional Programming

The festival will offer a robust program of discussions, performances, and workshops, focusing on advancing social justice through dialogue and action.

On Thursday evenings during the festival we will host Weekly Town Hall Discussions offering audiences the opportunity to ask questions of key figures from the arts, advocacy and social services arenas.

On Friday evenings—in partnership with Citizen Action of New York—the festival will host Take Action Nights, during which organizational representatives will share information on ways to get involved as the 2020 U.S. election approaches.

The festival will also partner with the Manny Cantor Center and social practice artist Julia Rooney on weekly workshops with community members to collaboratively produce an artwork that will be displayed at the close of the festival.

An Activism Market will be incorporated throughout the exhibition, putting products by ethical designers and makers on display, for sale during the festival. Applications for the Activism Market will be accepted on a rolling basis from June 26 through August 21 here.

All programs are free to the public with registration. The full schedule will be posted online. These gatherings, with the exception of the workshops, will be streamed via social media (@artandsocialactivism) and posted on the Art and Social Activism website. The festival will try to provide any accessibility and interpretation services requested.

Visitor Information
Thursday, September 26, through Sunday, October 20, 2019
Location: 32 Orchard Street, New York City, ground floor and lower level
Public Hours: Wednesdays through Sundays, 11am – 7pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Admission: Admission to the festival during public hours is free. Evening programs are free with registration in advance.
Accessibility: The festival’s main floor is street level and wheelchair accessible.
Directions by Subway: F to East Broadway; F, M, J to Delancey Street/Essex St; B, D to Grand St
Ongoing Activities
Art and Social Activism is a community-building platform for socially engaged artists, makers and designers, activated through seasonal festivals, spotlight projects, a monthly zine-newsletter, and co-hosted gatherings with peer cultural and social justice institutions.

Website & Social Media:
Facebook and Instagram @artandsocialactivism. #ArtandSocialActivismFestival

Contacts: Press queries and interviews:
Elyse Topalian, LLC +1 917-880-6423
Nicholas Cohn Art Projects, LLC +1 917-923-7982
General Inquiries should be directed to