Artists Tips and Tricks Guide

Thank you for your interest in FIGMENT NYC Weekend on Governors Island! This guide will lead you through the process of bringing your piece to Governors Island. 

The guide is by no means definitive. With construction and continuing changes to the operating landscape of the Island, new challenges and information may arise in the weeks leading up to the event. The Curatorial Team will keep accepted artists apprised of changes, and may supply new information that supersedes the details contained in this guide. Be sure to stay in regular communication with your assigned curator. 

If you have any questions about bringing your project to FIGMENT that are not addressed in this guide, please email

What's New?

New and returning artists should check out our Artist Updates page for the latest updates on Governors Island and our curatorial process.

FIGMENT Project: the big picture

FIGMENT is a forum for the creation and display of participatory and interactive art by emerging artists across disciplines. FIGMENT began in July 2007 as a free, one-day participatory arts event on Governors Island in New York Harbor with over 2,600 participants. Since then, FIGMENT has grown significantly each year—in number of projects, duration, participants, volunteers, fundraising capability, exhibitions, locations, overall level of commitment and participation, and public support. 

FIGMENT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization entirely funded by grants and individual donations. FIGMENT accepts no corporate sponsorship of any kind. FIGMENT is supported by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. FIGMENT NYC is supported by theNew York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, as well as by the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. 

For further background on FIGMENT, see our History page. 

The 11 FIGMENT Principles

FIGMENT has 11 principles that shape our event, giving our events a unique flavor and experience found in few places elsewhere in the world. They also guide the curators in selecting art appropriate for the event. Upholding the principles presents challenges to FIGMENT artists, staff, and volunteers that many other art events do not have to address. We take these principles seriously, and you’ll see references to the FIGMENT principles throughout this guide and elsewhere in our materials. Please familiarize yourself with them here

Before you submit

Please review this guide thoroughly to ensure you understand the requirements and challenges of FIGMENT NYC Weekend. 

Review the updated Detailed Project Timeline below to ensure you or someone on your team is available on key dates such as site visits, install and deinstall, and the event itself. 

Additionally, please consider your calendar when applying to FIGMENT. If you are going to be out of town in the days before or after FIGMENT, you’ll need to consider how you’ll handle install, deinstall, and management of your project in your absence. 

We have some new restrictions on vehicles, which will require additional planning for artists who need to transport materials. See our Artist Updates page for more info. 

Using the artist portal to submit your project

When you’re ready to submit your project, go to to start the submission process. If you are a new artist, click the “Create Account” button to set up your Artist Portal account first. You will receive an automated email (be sure to check your spam inbox) with a temporary password and link back to the artist portal-click on that link, sign in with the temporary password, and change your password on the next page.

Artists who used the Portal last year can sign in using your existing credentials. Using your existing account will allow you to see information on projects you submitted in the past. 

Once you have signed in, you’ll see your Contact Details page. To update your details, click the Edit button. To submit a project for this year, click the “Continue to Submit for an Event” button at the bottom of the page. 

On the next page, you can start a new application, review an application from last year, or resume an existing application. To start a new application, click the “CREATE A PROJECT” link on the “New York” row to start an application. 

On the first page of the application, you must click the “Accept Policies” and “Accept Waiver” buttons, read the materials presented in the dialog box, and then click the “Accept” button in each respective dialog box. 

Continue filling out the application, clicking “Save” before moving on to the next page. When you click “Save,” the website will validate your entries and let you know if anything is missing. We recommend you “Save” on every page before moving on—it’s easier to deal with missing information when you’re on that page, as opposed to waiting until the Summary page. After your entries are saved, click “Next” to move to the next section. To go back a page, use the “Back” button, “Save” your changes, then use “Next” to continue. Be sure to “Save” your work if you use the tabs at the top to move between sections. 

To exit and return to your application later, click “Save” before closing your browser. When you sign back in, click the “Project Submissions” tab near the upper right corner of your Contact Details screen, and find your application listed at the bottom of the page. Click the “Edit” link to continue. 

After you submit your project

After you complete the submission form, you will receive an automated confirmation email. A FIGMENT Curator will be assigned to your project, and will contact you within a few days to introduce him or herself, and let you know if we have any questions for you. If you need to make travel plans by a certain date in order to get to FIGMENT, please bring this to the attention of your curator. 

We will begin accepting submissions on a rolling basis once the submissions process opens. The time to review and accept projects varies greatly by project. There are often many issues we need to work out with Governors Island and a response is not always immediate. All artists will be notified by the Project Approval Deadline listed in the Detailed Project Timeline below. 

Communication with your FIGMENT curator

The FIGMENT staff communicates with artists primarily by email. You will need to check your email account regularly for communications from your curator, especially in the weeks leading up to the event.

Please note that FIGMENT is run entirely by volunteers. It may take your curator a few days to respond to messages. Please be patient and respectful with your curator. If your curator has not replied to an urgent message within a few days, you can email for assistance.

Also please note that FIGMENT NYC uses a Salesforce database to manage project submissions. You may hear your curator refer to Salesforce. Artists do not have access to the Salesforce database and do not need to have any knowledge of that application. Any updates or changes to your project’s information will be made by your curator on your behalf.

Submit your project to other cities

There are FIGMENT Weekend events happening around the globe, and we encourage artists to bring their projects to multiple cities! To see where else FIGMENT is happening, visit FIGMENT Project. Each city has its own quirks, leadership, and curatorial process, so acceptance in NYC does not guarantee acceptance elsewhere. Please reach out to the leadership in each city for submission requirements.

Detailed project timeline 2016

Sat Feb 15th - Call for Submissions Opened! Project approvals begin on a rolling basis.
Fri May 6th - Submissions close
Fri May 6th - Governors Island Site Visit #1—Visit the island with the curatorial team
Thu May 19th- Project Approval Deadline—You’ll hear from us by this date.
Fri May 20th - Governors Island Site Visit #2 —Visit the island with the curatorial team
Weds & Thu Jun 1st & 2nd - Install
Fri, Sat & Sun Jun 3rd, 4th & 5th - FIGMENT NYC Weekend Event!
Mon Jun 6th - Deinstall Day—All projects must be removed by 6PM Monday unless alternative arrangements are worked out with FIGMENT and the Island

Project pointers; guidelines for Governors Island

Things You Will Need to Bring to the Island
• Everything! Governors Island is an island and if you don’t bring it, what you need is not going to be there!
• Smiles, patience and a cooperative attitude – you are a FIGMENT ambassador when interacting with Governors Island staff and the public. Be willing to offer a hand to other artists through the install and de-install process.
• Water, as there is no drinkable water supply on the island
• Food (food is also sold by vendors on the island as a service, but it never hurts to bring your own)
• A crew of helpers
• 100+ ft. of electrical cord (if bringing corded power tools)
• Any tools you plan to use for installation, de-installation or FIGMENT
• Sunscreen and maybe a hat

Limited electricity is available for installation and de-installation. Keep in mind that the closest outlet to your project will be over 100 feet away. Plan accordingly and bring your own extension cords and all tools necessary for install and removal of your piece.

Outdoor Space
Putting stakes down or making holes in the ground We’d prefer that you didn’t. Since Governors Island used to be a military base (for about 200 years) nobody knows what kinds of unexploded ordinance may be under the topsoil. In order to put a stake in the ground, we need to have somebody official certify that there’s nothing explosive under THE EXACT SPOT where you want to put your stake. This certification process costs a few thousand dollars and is thus cost prohibitive for FIGMENT. Please anchor your art with heavy objects if at all possible. If you must put stakes in the ground, they can only be 6 inches deep. Please check with your curator before staking. 

Selling things at FIGMENT
FIGMENT is an entirely free and non-commercial event in which everyone volunteers their time and effort to participate… the organizers, the artists, the participants. One of the things that FIGMENT tries to do is to create an area in which interactions between people are not mediated by commercial transactions of any kind. Everything at FIGMENT is free, and there is no advertising, nothing for sale, and no one insisting that you have to give a donation to participate. If people want to give a donation to help make FIGMENT happen, they can do so at a few donation boxes located only near the ferries and in FIGMENT Terrace. The idea here is that so many of our interactions with other people are based on commerce. At FIGMENT, everything that we do is a gift, is done for the pleasure of doing it and sharing it with other people. If that isn’t enough of a motivation for you, FIGMENT may not be the right venue for you. Please note that entities that are not part of FIGMENT will be selling food on Governors Island during the event as a service. The food carts and drink vendors are not part of the FIGMENT event.

On Water
While Governors Island is surrounded by water, it’s an active harbor and not a beach. There is no potable (drinkable) water on the island and no waterfront access. If you need a small amount of water (a bucketful) for your project, there is a hose. Please do not place projects in the water. If you are truly dedicated to propose a project in the water, you must realize what it means to put a project in an active harbor. It’s not a beach, and it’s not a lake. It’s a harbor with rough current, tidal flows, and a lot of boats, some of them VERY big. If you are considering doing a project on the water, please consider carefully (1) where the project will go, (2) how will you keep it there, (3) how will it float, and (4) how you would convince the local authorities to give you permission to build and maintain your project for the duration of FIGMENT. If, and only if, we’re confident that you’ve considered all these issues, we will work to secure permission for your project with all appropriate local and maritime authorities. This is a complex process, and we cannot be sure if we will be given permission for your project to be on the water.

Balloons and Flying things
Without getting the FAA involved, you can go as high as 149′, no more. With FAA permission, it’s not a big deal to go up to 500′. Please let us know if you think your project will be higher than 149′ from the ground.

Cooking and Food
Unfortunately we cannot cook or distribute food on the island. We can however bring food for ourselves and our friends, i.e. a picnic. In addition there will be several food carts on the island during the event. There’s no cooking allowed on the island without a catering license.

Projects including fire will be accepted on a case-by-case basis. All performers incorporating fire must have their own insurance.

Yes! Just as long as your chalk art doesn’t seem like directional signage and confuse people about where to go. Chalk art (which washes away with water) is good! Please realize that Governors Island is NPS property – We do need NPS approval for ANYTHING that happens on their property. If you are bringing chalk, please submit your project so your curator can work on getting that approval.

Transporting Your Project
Think modular design. It is important to consider the transport and final assembly of your project in the design. It is ideal to have practically ALL of the major construction completed before bringing it to the island. Projects should be created in pieces that are movable by a maximum of 4 people. Be sure to coordinate a crew for your installation / de-installation. All materials must be able to be transported on the Governors Island Ferry which has a maximum clearance of 12.5 feet.
If it takes more than 4 people to move your completed project we strongly recommend you divide your project into multiple sections so it is easier to install, de-install and move should the need arise. We recommend transporting projects in “granny carts” and dollies. If you need a table, consider a collapsible one that fits on a dolly. These items are available at most hardware stores.

How to make your project participatory
FIGMENT is a unique art event in that all projects presented at the event must be participatory and interactive. Participatory art involves the participation of the audience in the creation of the work. We encourage artists who may work in more traditional ways to introduce a participatory element to their pieces for FIGMENT. To help get you started, here are some suggestions:
- Host a workshop with your piece and teach others how to make their own pieces using your methods.
- Integrate a performance element into your piece – musical, theatrical, dance, or “performance art” are all welcome, and more!
- Host an activity with your piece.
- Create a new piece of work at FIGMENT and involve the audience in its creation – for example, painting or building. For more ideas, submit your project so that a curator can help make your idea a reality.

Suggested project materials and resources for Governors Island

Metal and fiber glass
These are suitable materials for holding up to the elements.

Glass and Plexiglas
Glass and unframed or unsupported Plexiglas are not suitable for the island, as when these break they leave behind dangerous shards.

Plants and Living Materials
If your project proposal contains plants or running water, it’s important to note that the access to water is extremely limited when Governors Island is open to the public. If your piece does contain plants / living materials / running water, you must map out additional plans for maintenance and you will be expected to make more frequent trips to Governors Island to maintain it.

Wood and wood-like materials
While wood has demonstrated the ability to make it through the season, it can suffer in the environment on Governors Island. Consider using a few extra coats of paint to increasing the durability of wood materials in your project. For durability reasons FIGMENT has determined for the construction of your project to use:
• A minimum of 1/2? thick weather-treated plywood
• 3/4 inch or 1? if you are using oriented strand board (OSB).
• Under no circumstances should you use medium density fiberboard (MDF) as it has consistently demonstrated an inability to withstand the Governors Island environment.
• Pressure treated wood is ideal and consider sealing the wood with 2 coats of deck paint.
• Lastly, keep in mind the weight of each of your projects sections.
If you cannot move a section with 4 or less people you will encounter challenges during install, de-install and during your maintenance visits. We strongly recommend your section your project into multiple sections so it is easier to install, de-install and move should the need arise.

Small and or moving parts are likely to fall off and/or need constant repair. Anything shiny and pretty that can be pried off will be. Consider a child’s mentality and curiosity. Avoid sharp-moving parts, or pointy things that stick up even if it seems obvious that they should not be touched. FIGMENT Weekend should be fun, and a trip to the ER is never fun.

This is not a traditional art event. When you design a piece for FIGMENT Weekend imagine that it will be climbed on by 15 people at a time, kicked, walked on, etc. — for 8 hours a day, for 3 consecutive days. If it rains, there is limited shelter, water will gather in low-lying areas and grass will turn muddy. Keeping that in mind, build for the apocalypse and consider a modular design for ease of transport and installation and de-installation. Although we have not had acts of intentional vandalism, anything that moves, is shiny or removable will be played with and pulled on in ways you did not imagine.

Frequently asked questions

Please check out our FAQ page for answers to your questions!

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace or “LNT” is more than just a trendy green catchphrase or a reminder to use trash can; it’s about collectively leaving the space we use better than we received it—and being prepared to accomplish that goal.

The FIGMENT community takes this principle very seriously. Everyone involved in FIGMENT—staff, volunteers, artists and participants—plays a role in upholding this principle. Leaving GI in good condition is critical to our relationship with the island, and to our ability to hold future FIGMENT NYC Weekend events. The FIGMENT curatorial team will be at the event keeping an eye out for projects that are an LNT risk, and will make note of projects that leave a trace. Artists who do not uphold this
principle will not be invited to participate in future FIGMENT events.
That said, with proper consideration and planning, LNT should not be a problem if you follow these guidelines.

Planning your project

Look out for MOOP!
We have a term for the “trace” that’s left behind—MOOP. MOOP stands for “Matter Out Of Place,” and is more than just litter.

Design your project to avoid MOOP
Designing your project to be MOOP-proof is the best way to Leave No Trace and give yourself peace of mind. A set of postcards or feathers from a boa can go from art to MOOP with a gust of wind. Here are some materials you should think carefully about before using them:
- Feathers, paper, cardboard It blows away easily and doesn’t hold up to rain. How will you handle weather situations?
- Glass breaks easily into tiny little bits that are not easy to clean up
- Paint is MOOP if it doesn’t land on your project. Paint on the grass, buildings, or pavement is MOOP. Paint that gets on a participant who then tracks it around the island is MOOP. Paint that spills in transit around the island is MOOP. If your project involves painting by either you or participants, make sure the area in which you are working is protected with tarps, that participants  won’t track paint with them, AND that your paint won’t spill during transit.

Plan for a MOOP emergency
Okay, so you have some MOOPy materials, but you’ve taken precautions to ensure they won’t become MOOP. Now imagine something goes wrong, and a participant breaks something or uses your project in an unintended manner, and you’ve got MOOP. What materials do you need on hand to clean it up? Plan to bring them, and plan to have help on hand if you might need it. In general, FIGMENT has limited cleaning materials and resources to assist artists with MOOP problems.
Pack it in, pack it out. Anything your project leaves behind on the island after deinstall is MOOP. GI does provide some trash cans around the park for visitors to deposit their litter. They are not designed to accommodate trash from the hundreds of projects that comprise FIGMENT. If your project generates waste or if your project is designed to be thrown out after the event, consider how you might reduce or eliminate that waste. If you must generate waste, have a plan to pack it out with you.

If, for some reason, your project has special disposal needs or you can’t take it with you, your curator
can work with you on a disposal plan.

At the event

Everyone is responsible for the MOOP around them
When we encounter MOOP, we don’t worry about where it came from, we just pick it up. Even if it’s a napkin from someone’s lunch that blew away in the wind and landed near you, just grab it and put it in the trash. MOOP attracts more MOOP.
Perform MooP sweeps for high-traffic projects and eventsIf your project is designed to attract and hold a large number of people who stick around for a while—for example, a DJ, workshop, large participatory event, or large-scale installation—expect people to leave MOOP behind. You should plan to have your project team sweep your area after an event or
throughout the day for MOOP.

Have MOOP bags
We recommend you have a plastic bag handy in which to put MOOP that accumulates around your project during install, the event, and deinstall. Have enough bags to hand out to everyone on your team.

Don’t let it hit the ground
When you’re installing or deinstalling your project, sometimes it’s easier to toss parts like nails or bolts on the ground and pick them up later. But that makes them harder to find later, especially in grass. Put down a tarp or have a bucket ready if you have small parts to collect.

Do a final MooP sweep to complete your deinstall
You are responsible for MOOP in the immediate area of your project, regardless of who put it there. Whether it’s a nail from your project or a napkin from someone’s lunch, please do a MOOP sweep to make sure your project’s area is free of MOOP to complete your deinstall.