Residency Unlimited


New York City Safe Haven Residency

New York City Safe Haven Residency

A three-year initiative Led By, Artistic Freedom Initiative, Residency Unlimited, & Westbeth Artists Housing

New York City Safe Haven Prototype is a multi-organizational artist residency program designed to house, integrate and nurture artists at risk. These are artists who are persecuted on the basis of political affiliations, ethnic, locational, religious, and/or gender-based persecution; forcibly displaced; artists who need a respite from dangerous situations; or artists from countries experiencing active, violent conflict.

No single institution or service provider can fully encompass the complex responsibilities that come with supporting an individual at risk, particularly when geographical, political, cultural and temporal challenges create complex situations where artists working on the frontlines of social change are subject to multiple, intersecting forms of repression. In response to those challenges, the NYC Safe Haven Prototype was formed over several years of informal case management. It is a composite group of organizations that are experienced and well-positioned to apply a unique skillset and collectively respond to the intersecting needs of persecuted artists, including: housing, medical care, psychosocial support, immigration and legal services, professional development and community engagement.

The objective of the New York City Safe Haven Prototype is to activate up to six safe haven residency apartments within the Westbeth Artist Community over the coming three years. Located in Manhattan’s West Village, the Westbeth is a non-profit housing complex that provides affordable live-work space to New York City’s artists. Each residence will be developed in partnership with an organization working towards free expression in the social justice and human rights contexts, including:, Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI), Residency Unlimited (RU), International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) and PEN’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) to start. This initiative is generously supported by The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

The first visual artist to participate in the New York City Safe Haven Prototype is Hadi Nasiri, an activist/artist/researcher, whose work has encompassed performance, painting, sculpture, graphic design, and political protest exploring themes about the relationship of religion (specifically Islam) to women's rights, LGBTI rights, sexuality, and political ideology. Hadi started his residency at RU in 2017. Please check the Westbeth News about Artist at Risk initiative here.

The second artist to participate in the New York City Safe Haven Prototype is Rashwan Abdelbaki from Syria whose work focuses on issues relating to racism, religion and politics and how they are effecting and destroying our faith in humanity Rashwan's residency at RU started in July 2018. In December 2018, Rashwan's work was featured in the group exhibition Executive (Dis)Order: Art, Displacement, & the Ban organized by Artistic Freedom Initiative and Osman Can Yerebakan, 2019 RU curator alum, at the Queens Museum. The exhibition brings together artists responding to the complex circumstances catalyzed by restricting physical, creative, and intellectual mobility.

We are happy to inform you that Artist Safety Hosting: A Guide to History, Ethics & Practice is now online. Launched on Sept 19 at a panel at Goethe Institute with Tania Bruguera, Laura Raicovich, Prerana Reddy and others this hosting guide offers reflections on the rise of artist safety hosting and the best practices for its use in New York City and elsewhere.


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