New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs has launched three new artist-in-residence programs that will work with the city’s criminal justice system. The Department of Corrections, the Department of Probation, and the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence will each host an artist to help facilitate dialogue, encourage collaboration, and build community between the agencies and the residents they serve.
Inspired by the work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles—the city’s first unsalaried artist-in-residence who began working with the Department of Sanitation in 1977—the Public Artists in Residence (PAIR) program was launched in 2015. Other agencies that have previously partnered with artists for PAIR include the Department for Veterans’ Services, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and the Administration for Children’s Services.
The open call for the three new initiatives will end on November 13. Each residency, which lasts a minimum of one year, will allow the artists to propose art projects and creative solutions for civic challenges. According to Ana Bermúdez, the Department of Probation commissioner, the artist-led projects could help reduce the odds of inmates reoffending after they’re released from prison. It’s “a great use of taxpayer dollars,” she said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “It’s being smart on crime in a very effective way.”