become an artist commissioning program artist

create new works for the American canon

Apply below!

applications due november 14!

Applications due by 11:59pm.

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"In most artistic ventures, you don't have community engagement like this. It has changed me as a human being and an artist."

-Judith Sloan, 2017-18 Awardee in Playwrighting

about: reimagining the commissioning process

The Artist Commissioning Program (ACP) awards Queens-based choreographers, playwrights, and composers $10,000 each towards the creation of a new, original work. This program democratizes the traditional commissioning process, which has historically been reserved for a privileged few. The ACP supports projects that add to the canon of American art by telling an untold story of underrepresented person(s) relevant to the neighborhoods in Queens. Two things make ACP unique: 1) its aim to fill gaps in American culture, and 2) its format of pairing artists with a cohort of "Art Commissioners."

1. filling gaps in american culture

ACP's priority is to support artists who present a fresh perspective by creating work that defies the cultural mainstream, privileges underrepresented identities, and/or speaks to the cultural diversity of Queens by telling an untold story of underrepresented person(s). Artists’ projects should highlight the stories of individual protagonists (e.g. heroine(s), hero(s), characters) in their proposed works to give underrepresented people a vision of themselves as leading characters. The new work should be replicable, capable of being interpreted and produced for dance, music, or theatre by other artist(s) or third parties throughout the borough, city, and country (e.g. if a high school or off-broadway theatre wanted to produce your work, they could do so - think Summer Stock or Swan Lake). By commissioning artists to materialize such works, the ACP aims to fill gaps in American culture by actively adding to the art historical canon. In doing so, the ACP aims to create a more democratic cultural sector that is more inclusive of the diverse narratives, cultural backgrounds, and values associated with our borough and nation.


2. the role of the art commissioner

A cohort of seven "Art Commissioners” affiliated the communities of Flushing or Maspeth/Ridgewood evaluate and select the projects. These individuals are Queens based and affiliated community members and art lovers with a stake in the borough's cultural life. Following your project’s selection, they will be actively involved in your project's development from inception to completion. They will be a support system throughout the entire artistic process, doing things like helping find a project premiere venue, serving as a sound board for artistic ideas, hosting events for you to provide project updates and showcase your work, and helping market your World Premieres.

*Before applying, please read over the role of an Art Commissioner, as they will be selecting your project and their participation will impact your experience as an artist within this program.
Want examples? Read about our previous art commissioners.

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the importance of neighborhoods:
flushing & maspeth/ridgewood

Every year, ACP focuses on two Queens neighborhoods to enable Art Commissioners to select artists to create art for their own communities. This year, the neighborhoods are Jamaica and Flushing. For this reason, programming will be largely concentrated in these two areas.


The following eligibility criteria apply to the Artist Commissioning Program:

  • ARTISTIC DISCIPLINE: Composers, playwrights, and choreographers are eligible to apply.

  • LOCATION: All greater NYC artists within a commuting distance to Queens Council on the Arts’ offices in Astoria/Long Island City, as well as Monthly Convenings in Maspeth/Ridgewood or Flushing

  • GEOGRAPHIC PREFERENCE: While all artists within a commuting distance of Queens Council on the Arts will be considered and are encouraged to apply, preference will be given to Queens residents,
    especially those with a demonstrated connection to the neighborhoods
    of Flushing or Maspeth/Ridgewood

  • AGE: Must be 21 years or older as of January 1, 2020

  • STUDENTS INELIGIBLE: Students are not eligible to apply

selection process & evaluation criteria

Local community members, or art commissioners, will be responsible for reviewing your work in a panel process. Successful artists will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • UNTOLD STORIES: Demonstrated capacity to create new art that tells an untold story by highlighting underrepresented person(s) in the cultural mainstream

  • CONNECTION TO TARGET NEIGHBORHOODS: The project proposals will be evaluated based on project and/or artist’s demonstrated connection to the two 2019-20 ACP neighborhoods of focus, Maspeth/Ridgewood and Flushing

  • ARTISTIC MERIT: Artistic merit of submitted work samples

  • PROJECT PROPOSAL: Quality and clarity of the project proposal

  • REPLICABILITY & FEASIBILITY: The ideal ACP project is replicable, capable of being interpreted by other artist(s) and interested parties throughout the borough, city, and country. The Art Commissioners will also consider the project’s overall feasibility.

  • LOCATION PREFERENCE: Preference will be given to current Queens residents, particularly those currently living in Flushing and Maspeth/Ridgewood

Award Details

Four (4) artists will be chosen by a panel of ACP Art Commissioners who include Queens-based and affiliated Maspeth/Ridgewood and Flushing community members, arts lovers and supporters. Each artist will receive a commission of $10,000 towards the creation of a new work, as well as support towards its premiere production. 

The $10,000 commission will cover: 

  • ARTIST STIPEND: to compensate the artists for their time & creative labor

  • PERFORMERS’ FEES: to compensate the artists' performers, such as actors, dancers, and musicians, for their time & creative labor

  • REHEARSAL FEES: to book rehearsal space to create/develop the work

  • DOCUMENTATION FOR COMMISSION: expenses related to documenting the work and/or creating the commission’s deliverables (for choreographers, this may include video of the choreography for the commission’s deliverables; see below for details)

  • OTHER CREATION EXPENSES: related to the creation of the work

World Premiere production of SHED by 2017-18 Awardee in Choreography Chuan Xie at Queens Botanical Garden; photo by Nathaniel Marsh

World Premiere production of SHED by 2017-18 Awardee in Choreography Chuan Xie at Queens Botanical Garden; photo by Nathaniel Marsh

additional Production Support:

In addition to the $10,000 commissioning fee, Queens Council on the Arts also supports the fees associated with: 

  • EVENTS: As their projects are being developed, artists and Art Commissioners participate and/or host Monthly Convenings to touch base on the artists’ process, such as open rehearsals, art salons, and professional development events on commissioning art. QCA will cover the expenses associated with these events. Artists are expected to attend all program dates barring up to two conflicts. See Program Timeline below for specifics.

  • VENUE RENTAL: QCA will cover the cost of a venue rental for the artists’ World Premiere, if applicable. While artists are encouraged to have an idea of where they would like their work’s World Premiere to take place (ideally within Maspeth/Ridgewood or Flushing), if selected, the artists will work with the Art Commissioners & QCA staff to select a venue that suits their work and artistic vision for the new work's World Premiere.

  • OTHER PRODUCTION EXPENSES: related to the production of the World Premiere, including:

    • Print Marketing: World Premiere showcards and programs (graphic design and printing)

    • Event photography: Event photography of the artists’ World Premiere

    • Reception: A light reception during the project’s the World Premiere

commission Deliverables

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Successful artists will be required TO:

  1. DOCUMENT THEIR COMMISSION: ACP Awardees will create and deliver a completed dance, music score or theater script created by to Queens Council on the Arts by September 30, 2020. Because the purpose of ACP is to commission new culture that can be replicated and added to the American Canon, this documentation should provide enough information so that a production of this new work could be interpreted and produced throughout the borough, city, and world.

  2. PRODUCE A WORLD PREMIERE IN QUEENS: Orchestrate a World Premiere of their Artist Commissioning Program project by September 30, 2020. This event will be produced in conjunction with, and engage the support of, the 2019-20 cohort of Art Commissioners and Queens Council on the Arts. If possible, World Premieres should take place in the neighborhoods of Flushing or Maspeth/Ridgewood, Queens.


  • The artists retain all copyright and intellectual property rights associated with their work and any future productions of that work.

  • The documentation of commission obtained by QCA described above will be used for record-keeping and for the purpose of fulfilling the expectations of this award only.

  • QCA retains the exclusive right to:

    • Present the premiere performance of the work in Queens. This should be the first time the work has ever been presented to the public.

    • Be credited as the commissioner of the work in published editions, recordings, and programs of all future performances.


  • August 13, 2019: Application opens

  • November 14, 2019: Artist Application deadline

  • Late December 2019: Artist Notification


The Artist Commissioning Program runs from November 2019 - October 2020. Artists are expected to be present and engaged for a variety of program dates, including a kickoff party, and monthly convenings with the cohort(s) of arts commissioners dedicated to supporting their project. Because the success of this program hinges on participant engagement, we ask that artists do not miss more than two program events. Artists are not expected or required to attend the other group's monthly check-ins.

The program calendar is as follows:


    • Friday, January 3 from 6 - 8pm

  • MONTHLY CONVENINGS (January – July 2020): Artists and art commissioners participate in and host monthly Art Salons, Studio Visits, Artist Talks, & Professional Development Events


      • Thursday, January 16th from 6 - 8pm

      • Thursday, February 20th from 6 - 8pm [all ACP]

      • Thursday, March 19th from 6 - 8pm

      • Thursday, April 16th from 6 - 8pm [all ACP]

      • Thursday, May 14th from 6 - 8pm

      • Thursday, June 18th from 6 - 8pm [all ACP]

      • Thursday, August 13th from 6 - 8pm


      • Thursday, January 23rd from 6 - 8pm

      • Thursday, February 20th from 6 - 8pm [all ACP]

      • Thursday, March 26th from 6 - 8pm

      • Thursday, April 16th from 6 - 8pm [all ACP]

      • Thursday, May 21 from 6 - 8pm

      • Thursday, June 18th from 6 - 8pm [all ACP]

      • Thursday, August 20th from 6 - 8pm


    • August - September 2020 (exact dates TBD)


    • September 30, 2020: Deadline for Commission Deliverables to be send to QCA


    • Friday, October 9th, 2020

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? attend an information session (required for all applicants) and CHECK OUT OUR FAQs.

For additional questions, please contact Artist Commissioning Program Manager Kelly Olshan at or (347) 505-3016.