August 31, 2021

What is Art Space Sanctuary?

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“What is Art Space Sanctuary?”

The actions taken by this federal administration point to its determination to consolidate power and launch wide-ranging assaults on selective populations, including migrants, refugees, Muslims, Latinx, Black, women, and LGBTQ communities, as well as artists, academics, scientists, and the press. It is imperative that we stand up and say NO! to such actions, policies and laws.

Everyone should have access to education, culture and the arts without any fear.

To make this possible, we ask that cultural and arts institutions, from libraries to theaters to museums to galleries and more,  join other groups in declaring sanctuary – an important strategy with symbolic, moral and practical efficacy.

The goal of the sanctuary movement is to create safe spaces, spaces that declare their refusal to condone and abet actions and laws that violate justice and conscience. Sanctuary provides a broad umbrella for an intersectional coalition of people to stand together, build networks and create spaces of convergence.

Sanctuary has many levels. You DO NOT have to shelter persons in danger of deportation to declare sanctuary. You do not have to be a place of worship. You can be a safe space, offering information and resources; you can agree to not ask for immigration status or divulge information to federal law enforcement; you can agree to not allow immigration enforcement agents into your space without a court-ordered search warrant…

All and any of these policies are within the law and constitute sanctuary.

Specific Conditions for Declaring Sanctuary

Art and cultural spaces and institutions that want to declare sanctuary should at minimum agree to:

  • Provide a safe space where people won’t be mistreated because of their race, gender, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, religious faith, political or scientific views. Everyone is entitled to art and culture without fear.
  • Make a public statement regarding their commitment to protect information on immigration status of all members, staff, artists and visitors.
  • Agree to not allow federal immigration authorities to search the premises without court-issued warrants specific to those premises. This is legal and in line with the declarations of many sanctuary campuses and sanctuary cities. Due process is an important aspect of the judiciary that needs to be upheld.
  • Disseminate information and provide programming and resources helpful to undocumented and other vulnerable populations.

In addition to theseeach space can opt to adopt further policies such as:

  • offering temporary or long term refuge in case of hate crimes, raids, deportation threats, and so on
  • petitioning state and federal officials to support legislation and policy that protect the civil liberties and the right of non-citizens to remain living in the United States, such as the BRIDGE Act.
  • petition local and state officials to end policies, such as broken windows policing, that lead to the racialized and class-based criminalization of certain populations, and to their incarceration and deportation.

Declare your Art Space a Sanctuary

Art Spaces Declaring themselves as Sanctuaries

Sign up to Support this Call

Signatories Supporting this Call

If you are an art or cultural institution that has declared sanctuary please notify us at: or register here.


Signs are a good way to let people know what kind of a space they are entering – addressing both those who should feel safe and agents whose undeclared presence endangers us. There are important signs and declarations you can post around your institution:
a/ Safe Space Entry Sign
b/ Sanctuary Logos – we recommend that Artspace Sanctuaries like other sanctuary spaces use these in their physical space as well as in their on-line and social media presence. Also, in protests. On Bodies.
c/ Lists & Maps of Sanctuary Spaces in NY – houses of worshipart spaces, educational organizations, and businesses like restaurants that have declared sanctuary on some level. It’s good to know where they are. Support these spaces.

Be a Sanctuary Hub
As a sanctuary space, you can be a hub for the dissemination of resources to citizens and non-citizens alike, and set up coalition-building programs and host trainings and other events. Here is a folder of materials you can print, hand out, or leave around:

New Sanctuary Coalition’s “Beyond Your Rights” brochure goes into strategies of mutual protection – Spanish here and English here
New Sanctuary Coalition’s Rights Card to hand out in case of a ‘situation’ – everyone should carry these
Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) has info for restaurants that want to become part of its sanctuary network
NILC has legal resources for employers/employees on workers’ rights and workplace issues, and for schools and universities
United We Dream rights information in multiple languages

As a sanctuary hub you can also be part of the New Sanctuary Coalition (NSC) program called SanctuaryHood whose goal is to create protected and aware neighborhoods, through decentralized and intersectional events, programming, training, and mutual support. For more information, you can contact us.”

Published By: Art Space Sanctuary