Turnout Stage at Queens Theatre, Summer 2021

We believe arts organizations and artists in historically marginalized and underinvested neighborhoods are critical anchors in the city’s recovery and long-term health. Turnout NYC prioritizes these anchors and the audiences they serve. 

CALL FOR FELLOWS for the project: Turnout NYC

Deadline extended until Friday, February 4, 2022

Project Overview


Prior to the pandemic, people living in vulnerable areas already had limited access to cultural opportunities. Today, those scarce opportunities are at a higher risk of disappearing. Small performing arts and community organizations with budgets under $250,000 have been hit the hardest, as have community organizations focused on folk and ethnic awareness. As of December 2020, arts, entertainment, and recreation employment declined by 66 percent from the previous year – the largest decline among the City’s economic sectors.

The need to present and experience artistic expression has incentivized both artists and audiences to explore public spaces as flexible sites for safe and distributed cultural events. This exploration opens a possibility to create new cultural venues in underserved neighborhoods. Most importantly, it provides a unique opportunity to co-develop such venues with and for emerging art professionals in each neighborhood. Given this prospect, SITU and the Design Trust for Public Space, with National Black Theatre, Queens Theatre, New Yorkers for Culture and Arts, NYCreates, and others have initiated Turnout NYC.


The Turnout NYC project will support equitable access to the arts and provide infrastructure for artists, especially Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, and other historically marginalized groups. The project is centered on five goals:

  1. Provide infrastructure for artists and cultural producers to show work and sustain employment.

  2. Increase access to arts and culture in historically marginalized neighborhoods.

  3. Give arts organizations, artists, and community leaders greater agency in defining programming and curatorial practice. 

  4. Cultivate the professional development of local artists, technicians, and organizations.

  5. Demonstrate a scalable strategy to transform underutilized public spaces into vibrant cultural venues.

Turnout NYC will co-design five outdoor performance venues—one in each borough—in historically marginalized neighborhoods. The initiative will purposefully seek to advance these five sites as part of a larger effort to distribute open-source design knowledge, advocate for structural changes in the city’s cultural policies, and to build a connected cohort of emerging arts and design professionals. All told, Turnout NYC will hold between 150-200 events, featuring between 900-1200 artists and performers, and will welcome many thousands of New Yorkers from every perspective as audiences.

Turnout NYC is structured around collective ownership and open partnership of ideas. The project will be led by artists and cultural leaders. An Artists’ Advisory Council will provide leadership and guidance for the initiative. Each of the five place-based interventions will be supported by a lead Community Cultural Partner, serving as a connector for programming and community engagement. Two managing entities—the Design Trust for Public Space, a non-profit organization dedicated to New York’s public space, and SITU, an architectural practice centered on social and creative impacts—will steward the overall workplan.

Fellowship Overview

What is a Design Trust Fellow?

A design-thinker. An instigator. A collaborator. And a champion of our values:

  • The cultural and democratic life of the city depends on viable public space.

  • Design excellence is the minimum requirement for all public space.

  • Social justice and environmental sustainability must guide public space design. 

  • Rigorous engagement with all stakeholders plays a determining role in the quality of public space.

  • Cross-sector partnerships are vital to achieving and sustaining long-term change.

Design Trust Fellows are leading professionals in their field or dedicated community advocates and are chosen for their talent, expertise, experience, and strong qualifications. Fellows must have demonstrated the ability to work independently and collaboratively and have direct experience producing deliverables similar to those stated in the Fellow Description. Fellows do not need to meet exact qualifications; however, they must show a willingness to explore topics outside of their previous work and demonstrate an interest and excitement for the project focus.

If chosen, the Fellow would join a network of over 100 Fellows from past Design Trust projects. Fellows will have the chance to build these relationships through participation in quarterly Fellows Forum salons tackling varying design issues in the City. The Design Trust’s strong local ties with many types of designers and urbanists in New York make this position ideal for someone looking to expand their professional network or thinking about making a career change in New York City.

The Design Trust process is open and collaborative. Fellows must work effectively with one another, the project partners, Design Trust staff, and community stakeholders. Fellows bring their skills and expertise to bear on the project, developing innovative responses to the City’s most vexing challenges, and pushing for creative thinking. With Design Trust, project partner, and community stakeholders, Fellows create unique design solutions that generate systemic or policy change for New York City’s public space.

Design Trust projects require significant time commitments from Fellows to work with multiple stakeholders, develop implementable strategies and recommendations, and produce final deliverables. The expectation is that Fellows will devote approximately 2 - 3 days per week to the project, for an 18 month period beginning February 1, 2022. The Fellows' stipends are $45,000 each for the completed project work.


Firm principals and sole proprietors are encouraged to apply with the understanding that the fellowship is time intensive and the compensation is modest. Professionals with full-time positions may apply if they have the support of their employers; recognition of firms as sponsors of the project can be arranged. Students are not eligible to apply, except for Ph.D. candidates who meet the fellowship requirements.

All applicants must, at the time of their application, have the legal ability to work in the United States and must reside in the New York City area for participation in project meetings and events. Work will be a balance of remote and in-person, as governed by recommendations from local health officials.

Design Trust encourages people of all abilities, ethnicities, genders, national origins or ancestries, races, incarceration histories, religions and sexualities to apply. Design Trust is also committed to accessibility and to working together with you to develop an accessibility plan. 

Fellowship Description

Communications and Storytelling Fellow

The Communications Fellow will use unique creative talents to tell the story of the overall project, utilizing a mixture of community-based storytelling and/or journalism skills. These could include creative or critical writing, journalism, videography, oral history, graphic design, folk art, or other means. This role will serve as a critical lens to reconcile the place-based efforts happening across the city and the overall goals of the project.

The Fellow is required to:

  • Attend check-in meetings with the Design Trust and Turnout NYC teams, as well as the CCP partners and Advisory Committee

  • Document the local, human stories of artists, participants, and neighborhoods through multiple media such as text, images, sound, and video

  • Share findings on social media platforms, newsletters, project events, and other materials

  • Participate in public events and/or an exhibition

  • Assist with the creation of a publication that documents the process and outcomes of the initiative

  • Use the project graphic system to refine and communicate the recommendations for use by a broad audience


Candidates should have relevant work experience and/or a degree in photojournalism, videography, photography, or a related field. Preference will be given to candidates who have worked on community-based storytelling projects related to public space and arts and culture. Additionally, candidates should have significant experience writing about complex issues for a broad public audience and working on collaborative projects.

Candidates selected for a final round of interviews will be asked to submit a brief project proposal for their final publication and documentation of previous work that supports their technical knowledge to develop such a proposal. 


The fellow is expected to create original media that highlights the unique human stories that are directly related to the implementation of the Turnout NYC project. The form and content of this media are to be defined by the Fellow, in consultation with the project team. Additionally, a final publication will be created that includes stories from all of the various project locations that capture the breadth of the entire initiative. The publication should have a stand-alone narrative and can use various formats such as video, photography, text, or audio. The Fellow will not be responsible for project managing this publication but will be responsible as a lead partner in content development. The fellow is expected to combine various media in order to include audiences with disabilities.

Evaluation and Assessment Fellow 

The Evaluation and Assessment Fellow is responsible for developing a method by which we can judge and measure the impact of this initiative in the local communities and thereby determine the replicability and applicability of this work in other communities throughout New York City. Particular emphasis will be placed on creative and community-based methods of evaluation and assessment.  

The Fellow is expected to:

  • Identify metrics based on the goals of the initiative by which impact can be measured

  • Conduct quantitative and qualitative research, with support from local community partners in each of the five boroughs

  • Summarize findings in written reports

  • Assess how current policies and programs either facilitate or impedes arts and culture in public space especially in under-resourced communities 

  • Examine ways that the City or a nonprofit partner could provide expanded support and capacity-building

  • Make policy and programmatic recommendations for elected and government officials based on quantitative and qualitative findings


Candidates should have relevant work experience and/or a degree in public administration, economic development, public policy, urban planning, urban policy, or a related field. Preference will be given to candidates who have conducted research and developed projects related to public space and arts and culture. Additionally, candidates should have significant experience writing about complex issues for a broad public audience; working directly with and presenting to clients (public-sector clients preferred); working on collaborative projects or on teams.


The fellow is required to produce an initial evaluation and assessment framework that can help govern the analysis of the initiative. A mid-term assessment and evaluation that illustrates the impact and outcomes of this work, detailing how many people experienced arts and culture, the effectiveness of the infrastructure, and the impact on communities, will be circulated in late 2022.  The fellow will continue to oversee the assessment and evaluation over the course of 18 months and will produce a final report in concert with a final publication, expected in mid-2023.  This evaluation will be synthesized into a series of conclusions and recommendations that form guidelines and long-term policy recommendations. 

Fellowship Benefits

Design Trust Fellows receive benefits that advance their immediate and long-term career growth. Participation in a Design Trust project gives Fellows the opportunity to explore an urban issue in-depth and make a tangible effect on New York City’s public realm.  Additional benefits include:

  • Introductions to and opportunities for significant engagement with policymakers, community leaders, and professionals from other disciplines

  • An honorarium of $45,000 for the full project work

  • Participation in speaking engagements associated with the project or related topic (both Design Trust events and programs organized by peer organizations)

  • Opportunities for recognition in local and national media coverage of the project

  • Credit as a Design Trust Fellow for life, including:

  • Recognition on the Design Trust website with biographic information and the opportunity to highlight awards and latest news.

  • Inclusion of professional milestones in the Design Trust newsletter

  • Invitation to Fellows Forum events

  • Honorary Membership in Design Trust Council, the leadership circle of the Design Trust for Public Space, for a year, including invitations to Design Trust Council events. For more information: http://designtrust.org/about/council.html

How to Apply

Candidates should send a single PDF (maximum of 10 pages and 5 MB), including a cover letter specifying the Fellowship category they are applying for, a curriculum vitae, and a sample of relevant work to fellowship@designtrust.org

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until Friday, January 28, 2022,  at 5:00 pm. 

Interviews will be scheduled on a rolling basis.  Please note: candidates under consideration will be contacted by email. No phone calls to Design Trust, please. 

Selected applicants should be available to begin work in mid-February 2022 and remain available part-time through October 2023.

Special thanks to our Sponsors:

Andrew A. Mellon Foundation