Queens organization bolsters boro artists

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Despite national economic difficulties, the Queens arts scene is still prospering with the support of the Queens Arts Fund.

Sponsored by the Queens Council on the Arts since the 1970s, the fund provided 18 artists and 48 arts organizations in the county with a total of $201,517 this past year to create art programs and exhibits for the Queens community.

“It’s a very specific fund to create cultural programing in Queens,” said the council’s arts fund coordinator, Katie Tuss. “This is kind of the stepping stone grant to graduate to larger funding.”

Projects sponsored by the fund have included Hip to Hip’s free Shakespeare productions, the Oratorio Society of Queens and art classes at the Local Project gallery.

The fund regrants money provided by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program, the city Department of Cultural Affairs, the Greater New York Arts Development Fund and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

Grant amounts are set by the funders who distribute the award to individual artists and organizations as selected by a peer panel.

First-time applicants are required to attend an informational session, watch a video tutorial online or meet with a Queens City Council staff member in addition to submitting materials. Applicants must also demonstrate that at least 20 percent of the project’s total expenses are funded by sources other than the Queens Council on the Arts.

Artists and organizations can apply annually for a grant, but they must complete the proposed project in the year the award is given.

Queens Poet Laureate Paolo Javier used his grant money to adapt a Queens writer’s short story to film.

“The application process is not difficult, but neither is it something that you can expect to complete in 24 hours with much substance. You definitely need to be honest with yourself about why you need such a grant, as it rewards you for new work that figures Queens visibly into its fabric,” he said.

The Queens-based Dance Into Light company also received grant money to run its Nursing Home and Senior Center Care Program, which features four dancers and one musician who bring free, hour-long performances to the county’s nursing homes and senior centers.

“The QAF funding is vital to our work,” said the dance company’s founder and director, Dina Denis. “We have been funded for four performances and five homes are booked for this year.”

The deadline for next year’s award is Oct. 5, 2011.

More information can be found at queenscouncilarts.org/grants/ways-to-apply.

Reach reporter Evelyn Cheng by phone at 718-260-4524.

Updated 11:09 am, October 12, 2011
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