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Council distributes $270K in grants to 87 boro artists

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The Queens Council on the Arts awarded an unprecedented amount of money to dozens of borough artists and organizations during a Jan. 24 event as staffers and grant sponsors stressed the importance of maintaining a vibrant and diverse culture."It may be winter outside, but this is a spring of art for Queens," a beaming QCA Director Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer told attendees at the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.The QCA granted 87 honorees more than $270,000 in funds provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, which doubled its funding this year; the city Department of Cultural Affairs, which increased its funding by $20,000; and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.Proposals drawing from a variety of artistic disciplines, including the spoken word, visual arts, theater and music, won grant money."I think the diversity of proposals is what struck me," QCA member Barbara Pryor said. "It's kind of a mirror for Queens."Interested parties applied for the grants months in advance following QCA outreach efforts across the borough."We go out to the meet the community" to raise awareness of the program, QCA member Vivian Warfield said. "Sometimes we held meetings in libraries because in some places like Far Rockaway that's the only kind of space they have available" for such events.Warfield said she was pleased with the caliber of the proposals. "I was amazed at some of the quality - and also of the non-arts groups who planned to bring in artistic events," she said.One such recipient was the Federation of Italian Americans, which will sponsor joint Italian-Greek events over the summer at the Athens Square Park amphitheater on 30th Avenue in Astoria.Other groups proposed performances such piano concerts, African dancing and a narrative of Indo-Caribbean culture."They do great work," said Jerry Iannece, second vice president of the Federation of Italian Americans. "If you don't have an organization like [the QCA], you're at a loss for society and civilization."The QCA, in turn, had equally kind words for the artists and organizations. "Without you, we wouldn't exist," QCA President Stephen Martin said. "We always need your feedback to know how we're doing É be sure to stay in touch."Reach reporter M. Junaid Alam by e-mail at malam@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 174.

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