The Clemente was founded by literary and performing artists from Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and the Dominican Republic in 1993. Recognizing the important place that Latinos, in particular Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, played in the immigrant history of the Lower East Side, and its relation to earlier waves of immigrant influx - Eastern European Jewish, Irish, German, inter alia - the founders opened the Clemente to artists representing a nearly unlimited sense of place.
Artists in residence at the Clemente have been, and are, Cuban-Puerto Rican, Puerto Rican-Mexican, Peruvian, Colombian, Venezuelan, Japanese, Korean, Tunisian, Uzbekhi, Catalan, Basque, Cherokee, Iowan and Oklahoman, among others. Performing artists in residence work in capoeira, puppetry, children's theater, bi-lingual Spanish-English theater, tri-lingual Spanish-English-Mandarin Shakespeare, African percussion and tap, contemporary dance, arts in the schools, and more. Residencies open up on a rolling basis throughout the year, sometimes for shared, and sometimes for single occupants, studios.
Applications are evaluated for 11 categories on a grid, including Mission Fit, Artistic Excellence, Contribution to Community, Financial Need, Level of Academic Achievement, Multiculturalism/Sense of Place, among others. A subjective factor is also considered in the area of website or portfolio evalauation. A panel of 7 members - 2 Clemente board members who are resident artists, 2 Clemente board members who are not resident artists, & 3 non-board members who are local professional members of the arts community-reviews applications. Residencies are supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.