Each year, Queens Council on the Arts gives money to artists and arts organizations in Queens. For the past two years, Newtown Literary has been able to pay its contributors and staff thanks to grants from QCA. Below, we interview Lynn Lobell, the Grants and Resources Manager at QCA about how writers can get money to write through the Queens Arts Fund.
What is the New Work grant?
Since the late 1970’s Queens Arts Fund (QAF) has offered support to Queens-based individual artists and nonprofit organizations offering distinctive arts and cultural programming that directly serves the citizens of Queens.
The Queens Arts Fund is committed to supporting emerging artists from diverse cultural backgrounds across disciplines to create work that provides open and equal access for audiences in all communities of Queens, furthering racial and cultural equity.
The New Work Grant supports artists who live in or have their art practice in Queens, in the creation of new work that contributes to the cultural life of the borough.
This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Greater New York Arts Development Fund, in partnership with the City Council.
The QAF program also receives funds from the NYS Council on the Arts, Decentralization Community Arts program. Through this grant program we have a fund that also supports new work of artists working in social practice. This grant, Community Engagement Commissioning supports creative artists interested in working within a community setting.
Both of the individual artists grant are $2,500 and artists of any discipline can apply (to only one of the grants in a grant cycle), directly without fiscal sponsorship.
After people hit the submit button, what happens to a grant application until the decision is made?
After you hit the submit button the QAF staff will review the application for completeness and contact the artist via email if the application is incomplete. We ask that the applicant check their email regularly after submitting her application, as there will be a limited amount of time to fix any application errors. Once the applications are considered complete, the QAF staff prepares all the applications for the panel meeting by placing them in discipline specific panels.
Who are the people on the grant review panel, and how does that impact their thinking and decision making on who gets funded for a New Work grant?
A panel comprised of 5–7 artists, arts administrators, and community leaders will review the QAF applications and make funding recommendations. Panelists are given access to the applications for review and evaluate and score each application prior to their deliberation meeting. The panelists score their decisions based on set criteria of the grant. On the panel day, panelists come together to deliberate through facilitated conversations and decide with their peers on what applications get funding recommendations.
The QCA executive board then reviews the recommendations, and our funders provide final approval.
By the way, QCA staff does not vote on QAF applications we just facilitate the process.
If your readers are interested in being part of the part of process and serving as a Queens Arts Fund panelist, they can nominate themselves here.
For writers applying to the New Work grant, what kind of projects most often get funded?
It varies form year to year, but generally speaking, the projects that get the attention of the panelists are the ones that seem to engage the community and involve the community through the proposed public presentation. QAF has funded many different individual writing projects over the years.
Here are a few examples of what the panelists recommended for funding the past grant cycle:
A writer completing a novel and holding a reading a book launch at the local library;
A poet creating a series of poems culminating with a literary walk through their neighborhood;
An essay collection that combines personal narratives and historical evidence to document systemic issues affecting African Americans over a period of time in NYC;
An intergenerational story of a Filipino American immigrant family in the 1970s through 1990s set in Manila and Queens, culminating with a public reading.
What should writers consider when deciding on what work sample to include?
Work samples should reflect the writer's best work and work that defines the writing style of the literary artist. Works samples should not be more than 3 years old.
Literary Arts work samples should include the following:
Prose: Submit up to five pages from a singular literary sample.
Script/Screenplay: Submit up to ten pages from a singular literary sample with an additional one page synopsis.
Poetry: Submit up to five poems, no more than five pages total.
Documents should be uploaded in pdf format with 12-point font
What might a successful budget for a writer applying to the New Work grant include?
On the expense side, a good budget will include artists fees, fees to cover costs of completing your proposed project (i.e., the cost of a culminating event [including venue rental and, if necessary, marketing costs], the cost to produce your chapbook or publish your book).
On the income side, a diversified funding plan is more likely to get funding as it will show that a thoughtful plan has been put in place and that all the funding will not come from the QAF. Since QCA does not fund 100% of a project, the budget must reflect that at least 25% of funding will come from sources other than QAF funding.
Good budgets have different sources of funding. Artists need to look in the own circles as to who to ask for support, such as friends, family, former classmates, Facebook friends, etc. Also there are many crowdsourcing sites where writers can raise funds. These do take a bit of management but if successful, well worth the effort. For projects that have a strong community component, writers can look closely around their community as to who they do business with, local banks, local delis for example.
Well thought-out projects might have some foundation support. This takes a bit of research, perhaps at the Foundation Center to see what foundations are funding literary works. Google can be your best friend in research foundation support for writers.
Additionally, if the writer is creating a publication, sales of the book or chapbooks can count as income. A literary artist might also hold writing workshops and the fees for entry could be applied to the requires 25%.
What mistake do writer-applicants most often make?
Budget mistakes are big, but I would say, besides not hitting the submit button by the deadline, not clearly articulating not only what your writing project will be but how it will benefit the Queens community through a well thought-out culminating event.
If a writer is interested in apply for a New Work grant, what should she do next?
If she is new to the QAF process or had not applied within the last 2 years then she MUST ATTEND AN APPLICATION INFORMATION SESSION in one of the following ways:
The information session schedules are on the QCA website here.