Clarivel Ruiz, 2017. Photo by Hemi.


EMERGENYC is an incubator for artist-activists interested in developing their creative voice, exploring the intersections of art and activism, and connecting to a thriving community of independent practitioners—most of them POC, women, and LGBTQIA+ folks. First launched in 2008 at NYU’s Hemispheric Institute—and now independent, in partnership with BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange and Abrons Arts Center—EMERGENYC offers varied entry points into art and activism, prioritizing process, discovery and reflection, and fostering a brave space for experimentation, risk-taking and community-building. The annual program encourages participants to take interdisciplinary leaps, mix styles and traditions, and develop incisive new work at the intersection of performance and politics. Over the years, EMERGENYC has activated a strong network of artivists—in NYC and beyond—who have built solidarity across differences and challenged dominant narratives through artistic cultural resistance.


While we miss the in-person experience, this pandemic-era virtual iteration has allowed for an expansion of the network of participants—folks can now be anywhere and still be a part of the cohort—which in 2020 brought us unforeseen magic and pleasure. For 2021, we will continue creating in our virtual playhouse: with a decolonial lens, we will explore the intersection of art and activism through creative writing, autobiographical narratives, group work, and other multi-disciplinary adventures—all while creating and re-creating a space in which all participants build community with one another, actively listen with their bodies, and build intentional trust to lay a foundation where compassion and risk-taking guide our work together.

STEFA (2019)

STEFA, 2019. Photo by Alexei Taylor.

Selected participants will take part in weekly Sunday workshops facilitated by George Emilio Sánchez and Marlène Ramírez-Cancio, as well as workshops by established artists who are leaders in the field of performance and politics. Workshop leaders for 2021 will be announced closer to the date. (See the Faculty page to see past instructors.) We ask applicants to define issues that are important to them and explore how creative practices can harness their political voice. Participants have explored themes of racism and racial violence; police brutality and mass incarceration; joy as resistance; queer worldmaking; disability rights; undocumented immigrant activism; war and human rights; environmental justice; and myriad topics that affect their lives. These engagements have resulted in the creation of performance art pieces, multimedia installations, theatrical explorations, street performances, video art, and more. The program will take place every Sunday (10am–2pm Eastern Time) from Sunday April 4th to Sunday July 11th (*except for July 4th), with the final works-in-progress presented on July 8th, 2021 via Zoom. On Sundays when invited artist faculty are scheduled to teach (instead of ‘intensive week’), the day would stretch a bit longer (4pm-ish); so stay tuned!

This 3-month program has a fee of USD $500. Financial aid will be available to cover part of the tuition on a need basis. If your enrollment depends on financial aid, please let us know in your application. We will work it out.


EMERGENYC is now open to ALL emerging activists/artists/performers (not just NYC-based) who are fluent in English and can participate in online workshops from 10am–2pm Eastern Time
. Applicants must have prior experience in various performance genres and/or activist practices. Age is not a factor (past participants have ranged in ages 18–45, all bringing their best selves to the experience); what we define as ’emerging’ is fluid, and has more to do with how you self-define than anything else. We very much encourage BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and disabled artists to apply.

Eric Taylor (2017)

Eric Taylor, 2017. Photo by Marlène Ramírez-Cancio.


The deadline to submit materials via Submittable was Monday, February 8th, 2021 at 5pm (Eastern Time). 

You will be asked to submit:

—A biographical statement (maximum 500 words) This is your chance to let us know who you are, where you’re from, your performance background, and your current obsessions/projects. Please do not submit this in the third person or copy and paste your bio—we want to hear your story in your voice, in the first person. Talk to us.

—A statement of purpose (maximum 750 words) This statement describes the reasons you want to participate in EMERGENYC. Please outline the specific issues you would want to address through the program and any preliminary ideas about the communities or practices that would ground this work.

—Your resume or CV

—Two (2) work samples (See Application Form for details)

—Contact information for the two (2) people writing you letters of recommendation. (Please select two recommenders as soon as possible, giving them ample time to write and submit your letters.

—OPTIONAL: A paragraph explaining your request for financial aid to cover the $500 tuition. Be as detailed as possible to help us understand the circumstances of your needs. For any questions about the application form or how to apply, please send us an inquiry via the form below.

Finalists will be interviewed via Zoom in March; the first registration payment will be due the first week of April.

Troizel Carr,

Troizel Carr, 2016. Photo by Hemi.

The real power, as you and I well know, is collective. I can’t afford to be afraid of you, nor you of me. If it takes head-on collisions, let’s do it. This polite timidity is killing us.

—Cherríe Moraga

Refusing to contain yourself and giving in to sprawl can be a political act. Forcing yourself into a conversation with the past version of yourself and creating a new road instead of building on top of the old one is, almost always, a political act.

—Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

Contact US

Questions? Contact us.