$457,600 in Grants Awarded to 138 Queens-Based Artists and Organizations

By MOHAMED FARGHALY mfarghaly@queensledger.com

The cultural vibrancy of Queens, one of the most diverse communities globally, received a significant boost with the announcement of $457,600 in grants awarded to 138 artists, artist collectives, and small nonprofits. The grants, part of the 2024 Queens Arts Fund (QAF), are jointly funded by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) and administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).

Spanning an array of creative disciplines including music/sound, poetry, performance art, film, and sculpture, the projects aim to foster moments of joy, community, and celebration, while also addressing pressing issues such as cultural identity, social activism, and climate awareness.

Woomin Kim (QAF New Work ’24), “The Warehouse: Bins,” fabric and embellishments, 2023. Courtesy of NYFA.

“Culture is a central part of who we are as New Yorkers, and contributes to a stronger economy and healthier communities,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “That’s why we’re proud to partner with NYFA to invest this funding in more than 130 artists, collectives, and small nonprofits working in every corner of Queens.”

Inclusivity and representation were paramount in the selection process, with over 70% of panelists identifying as women or gender non-conforming/nonbinary, and nearly 80% identifying as People of Color. Additionally, materials were made available in Spanish and Chinese, alongside English, ensuring accessibility.

“We’re thrilled to announce this year’s Queens Arts Fund recipients, who continue to amaze us with the creativity that they bring to the borough of Queens and to New York City at large,” NYFA Chief Executive Officer Michael Royce said. “We are grateful to the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs for supporting this program, and look forward to the work of these talented artists, organizations, and collaboratives reaching and enriching communities across Queens.”

One of the grant recipients, Concetta Abbate, shared her enthusiasm, stating, “Receiving this grant furthers my goals to utilize art towards accessibility and inclusivity.” Abbate, born with a visual impairment, aims to guide audiences through a musical exploration of Queens, highlighting shifting soundscapes and local infrastructure needs.

Another recipient, Sofia Geck from The Dream Unfinished, emphasized the grant’s significance in promoting health awareness and under-recognized classical music composers of color.

“Receiving this grant is a huge honor and a wonderful opportunity for our organization to simultaneously increase awareness of both critical health resources and under-recognized classical music composers of color,” Geck said. “With the receipt of this funding and the production of our 4th annual VITALS festival, The Dream Unfinished will continue to combine the power of music and community engagement.”

Astoria Film Festival Media Production Lab (Queens Arts Fund Arts Access ’24) filming the Group Film at Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens. Courtesy of NYFA.

The grants also empower artists to celebrate and preserve cultural heritage. Araceli Poma of Afro-Andean Funk expressed gratitude for the opportunity to produce a concert featuring original music in Quechua, emphasizing the importance of strengthening cultural roots and promoting linguistic diversity.

“Receiving a Queens Arts Fund grant means a great support, as it will allow us to produce a concert with identity, where we will share original music in Quechua, and it is a great pride to be able to spread our indigenous languages,” Poma said. “This is important because it strengthens our connection to our cultural roots, promotes the preservation of our ancestral traditions, and fosters respect for linguistic and cultural diversity. Additionally, it gives us the opportunity to bring our music and message to a wider audience, creating a positive impact in our communities and beyond.”

Similarly, Sophia Walsh-Newman from Asoso International Ensemble highlighted the grant’s validation of their efforts to preserve folk traditions. “This grant provides monetary assistance that allows us to focus on rehearsing rather than rehearsal costs,” Walsh-Newman stated.

“Receiving this grant means much to me and my fellow artists. It validates to us that the work we are doing to learn, retain, and share our folk forms is necessary and important,” Walsh-Newman said. “This grant provides monetary assistance that allows us to focus on rehearsing rather than rehearsal costs. Further, this grant will allow us to continue to bring presentations to our communities that will allow participants to learn and engage with the heritage and folk traditions of the Caribbean Diaspora.”

Afro-Andean Funk (QAF New Work ’24)’s Araceli Poma and Matt Geraghty, “Mavy Roots,” concert at Bryant Park. Courtesy of NYFA.

The QAF projects promise to enrich Queens’ cultural landscape, with upcoming events, exhibitions, and film screenings showcasing the borough’s diverse talent and heritage. From outdoor health festivals to musical comedies and community storytelling events, the QAF grants demonstrate a commitment to fostering creativity, inclusivity, and community engagement in Queens and beyond.

“I’m thrilled to see so many Queens artists, from photographers to performers and beyond, receive grants through the 2024 Queens Arts Fund,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. said. “Queens is an unmatched hub of arts and culture, and this funding is a critical way of elevating the incredible work of the many brilliant artists chosen from across Queens, especially those from historically marginalized communities. Congratulations to all our recipients.”

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