2021 OHNY Weekend: Partner FAQs

Thank you for your interest in partnering on the 2021 Open House New York Weekend! The 2021 Weekend is taking place October 16-17 and we look forward to working with you to showcase and celebrate hundreds of wonderful and interesting places that define our city’s past, present, and future.

This year, OHNY Weekend brings two jam-packed days of in-person and virtual experiences for tens of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors. Whether self-guided or in a group, outdoor or indoor, masks will be required for all in-person experiences. We will also require proof of vaccination for visitors participating in Advance Reservation tours and most Open Access sites. This year’s Weekend is designed to make it as easy as possible for Partners to engage wide public audiences while also protecting the health and safety of your staff and Weekend volunteers and participants.

September 15: Submission deadline
Submit final descriptions, photos, and access to all virtual content links (recordings, live streams, etc.)

September 24: Virtual content deadline
All content for videos or other pre-recorded content must be submitted.

September 27: Press previews
Line-up shared with Press.

September 30: Members and Partners preview
Line-up shared with Members and Partners.

October 4: Public release
Line-up shared with the general public.

October 7: Reservations open
Reservation links shared for in-person sites.

Information Session Recording
OHNY shares tips, tools, and best practices for the Weekend via Zoom.

Partner Orientation Sessions
Confirmed Partners will learn more about participating in the 2021 Weekend line-up, including COVID-19 protocols, volunteers and more. Sessions held via Zoom. RSVP to join.

  • Tuesday, Sept 14, 12:00-1:00pm – Register
  • Tuesday, Sept 21, 12:00-1:00pm – Register


Q.What is OHNY Weekend?
A. OHNY Weekend is New York City’s largest annual design festival, when hundreds of places across the five boroughs—many of which are not typically accessible—open their doors to the public for a behind the scenes peek at what makes the place special or noteworthy. A significant virtual component of online talks, tours, and podcasts complement in-person experiences. OHNY Partners and Volunteers make the Weekend possible. Partners are organizations and individuals that create or provide access to experiences designed to help the public connect with places that are significant to the past, present, or future of New York City. The event has been an annual fixture on the city’s cultural calendar since 2003. It is organized by Open House New York, a non-profit organization that advocates for a more open and inclusive city and greater civic participation in the forces that shape New York.

Q. What distinguishes OHNY Weekend?
A. Since its founding, the Weekend has provided access to thousands of places with architectural, historical, and cultural significance. It also provides an inside look at the city’s infrastructure and systems, both manmade and natural, to spotlight how nearly 9 million people live, work, and move across the five boroughs and beyond. More recently, OHNY has expanded the lens to racial, ethnic, community, civic, economic, and environmental issues that define quality of place and quality of life, for better and worse, in New York. The through line of this evolution is the power of place—whether a single room in a building, the waste and water treatment systems of an entire borough, or the pylons beneath the shoreline surface of the Harbor.

Q. What is expected of Partners?
A. As a Partner, you will be sharing your site with a broad audience of New Yorkers and visitors united by a curiosity and love for the city. Partners organize a range of experiences during the Weekend, including leading in-person or virtual group tours, storytelling sessions, or talks, creating self-guided tours or producing various formats of online content, either live or on demand. By creating experiences, Partners are the key to the openness, access, and exploration that makes the Weekend so special!

Q. Why become a Partner for OHNY Weekend?
A. Partnering in the Weekend is a wonderful opportunity to reach new audiences, educate the public about your organization or a special place in the city, be a good civic neighbor, and remind the world that openness and access are defining characteristics of New York City. All partners are identified and promoted as part of OHNY Weekend, directing tens of thousands of visitors to your organization or a place in the city that deserves to be better known. During the six weeks preceding the 2020 Weekend, OHNY.org received 1.5 million page views!

Q. How is the Weekend promoted, and how are individual experiences publicized?
A. Nearly 100,000 New Yorkers and visitors participate in the Weekend. OHNY also organizes an extensive press and marketing campaign to promote OHNY Weekend, including media partnerships and weekly updates to 65,000 subscribers. All experiences, whether virtual or in-person, are featured on a dedicated page of OHNY.org and included in Series branding as appropriate. Virtual experiences are also directly linked to each Partner’s website.

Q. What are the basic requirements for partnering on in-person experiences?
A. We ask each Partner to:

  • Provide a description and necessary information to promote your participation.
  • Arrange for appropriate staff to be on-site during the event. OHNY volunteers can provide additional (limited) assistance where needed. Please review our information on volunteer assistance below.
  • Promote your participation through your marketing and communication channels, i.e. highlight the Weekend on your website, calendar listings, newsletters and social media, etc.
  • Display OHNY Weekend signage on-site during the event. Collect sign-in information and surveys from visitors.
  • Complete a Partner survey including visitor attendance totals.
  • Communicate with your building management (where relevant) to inform them of your participation.
  • Sign a waiver holding OHNY harmless from any incident that may occur on-site during the Weekend.
  • Submit a registration fee to cover a portion of the costs associated with promoting the Weekend, including creating dedicated webpages for each experience, registering participants, and assigning Volunteers to indoors and outdoors experiences. If this fee is prohibitive to a Partner’s participation in the Weekend, please reach out to ohnywknd@ohny.org.

    $35 USD: Virtual Experiences (nonprofit and for profit rate)
    $75 USD: In-person Experiences (nonprofit rate)
    $175 USD: In-person Experiences (for profit rate)

Q. What information is required to promote the Weekend?
A. All listings in the Weekend line-up feature: title/name of experience, description, neighborhood if relevant, image, Series listing, format type (e.g. tour, podcast, performance, talk, etc.), access type (Open Access or Advance Reservation), accessibility notes, and brief speaker bio(s) if relevant. Your dedicated listing will be shared with the public on October 12, and your content will be revealed on Saturday, October 16. It will be free to access through Sunday, October 17. If the content is available on-demand, it will continue to be accessible to Open House New York members through the end of October.

Q. What happens if there’s inclement weather?
A. OHNY Weekend takes place rain or shine.

Q. What are the COVID-19 guidelines for in-person experiences?
A. Given the increasing strictness of state and citywide COVID-19 precautions, OHNY is anticipating that proof of vaccination will be required for entry to indoor spaces and that masks will be required for everyone at all in-person experiences. Though it is possible that public health guidance will allow us to relax these restrictions on the Weekend, OHNY is taking a conservative approach to Weekend planning, meaning that Partners should be prepared for:

  • All in-person experiences—indoors AND outdoors—require masks.
  • Advance reservations and Open Access sites require proof of vaccination.
  • Self-guided tours do not require proof of vaccination.
  • Partners must ensure disposable masks and hand sanitizer are available on-site.
  • OHNY will make every effort to allocate volunteers to assist in checking for proof of vaccination. However, volunteers may not be available for all sites.

Q. What should I do if I have to cancel or modify my program?
A. We understand that as public health guidelines shift, there may be unexpected changes to your plans for the Weekend. We ask you to please keep us informed of any changes, and we will work with you to find a solution for your program.

Q. May I charge admission to my tour, film, talk, etc.? A. No. In order to be part of OHNY Weekend, you must provide access free-of-charge.

Q. If in-person, how many visitors should I plan to welcome?
A. The number of visitors depends on whether there is Open Access or if Advanced Reservations are required, as well as the location of and public interest in the site. Open Access experiences are open to all visitors on a first-come-first-served basis, while Advance Reservation sites require visitors to pre-register for small group tours through OHNY’s ticketing system. Some Open Access sites receive between 50-100 visitors while others have 1,000+ visitors throughout the Weekend. Pre-COVID, Partners requiring Advance Reservations typically accommodated 75-100 visitors over multiple timed-ticketed slots (e.g. three tours of 25, five tours of 20, etc.). The maximum recommended group size is 35 people, as it becomes difficult to hear speakers when groups are much larger. OHNY staff will work with Partners to decide on visitor access if you are unsure.

Q. What about liability and insurance issues?
A. For nearly two decades, Partners have welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors during the Weekend. To protect against any theft, damage, or loss to personal or real property that may occur during OHNY Weekend, Partners (owners, tenants, lessees, tour/workshop operator or organization) are responsible for carrying adequate insurance and are required to sign a mandatory waiver releasing Open House New York from all such liability. We strongly recommend that visitors also sign waivers for any experience requiring safety precautions such as a helmet, hardhat, life jacket, etc.. OHNY staff will review your organization’s waiver form, and, if necessary provide an additional form to ensure the safety of visitors and Partners.

Q. Can I request OHNY volunteers to help at my site or tour?
A. Yes! OHNY recruits more than 1,000 volunteers—typically members of the public who are New York City enthusiasts—to provide on-site assistance during OHNY Weekend. Volunteers are assigned to Partners in four-hour shifts: from 10:00am-2:00pm; 12:00-4:00pm, or from 2:00-6:00pm. OHNY recommends staffing 2 volunteers per tour or in-person experience. If you are unsure of how many volunteers your site might need, OHNY staff will happily advise you and make every effort to fulfill volunteer requests. This year, OHNY is requiring proof of vaccination for all volunteers. Partners should be aware that OHNY may not have volunteers available to fulfill all requests.

Q. What types of assistance do volunteers provide?
A. OHNY Weekend volunteers are trained to welcome visitors and assist with check-in and site waivers, way finding, and guest counts. They can also distribute printed materials, congregate visitors in advance of a tour in designated areas, and help manage lines. This year, volunteers will also be checking proof of vaccination for in-person experiences (Open Access and Advance Reservation)–subject to volunteer availability. OHNY volunteers cannot, however, replace your staff. Nor can volunteers serve as security guards.

Have a question not addressed here? Email us at ohnywknd@ohny.org