Should I apply to ACP or QAF?

I'm an artist. should i apply to the queens art fund or artist commissioning program?

We realize that, as an artist, it might not be clear which opportunity is right for you. So our programming staff have put together a resource to help you figure out which grant is the right fit. Spoiler: it might be that you should apply to both!

As you may know, Queens Council on the Arts has two upcoming opportunities for individual artists: The Artist Commissioning Program accepts applications from individual artists (as well as Art Producers, but more on that later). Queens Art Fund's New Works Grant is also intended for individual artists. 

Here's an infographic that breaks down the basics in terms of eligibility, project scope, and award amount.

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The best way to learn more about each program is to check out each individual page's website. 

For more information, please see:

The Artist Commissioning Program page for individual artists

The Queens Art Fund New Works Grant page

If you have a question that was not addressed on the website or FAQs page, feel free to contact us OR sign up for an upcoming information session (see ACP's upcoming information sessions and QAF New Work's upcoming information sessions). 

For QAF related questions, please contact: 

Dan Bamba
QAF Grants Manager

For ACP related questions, please contact: 

Kelly Olshan
ACP Program Manager

We wish you happy writing! 


Money Management Tips for Artists


Money Management Tips for Artists

On July 24, 2018, the Under the Hood program hosted "Smart Money Matters," a financial management workshop facilitated by Nalini Seepersad-Deen of Sterling National Bank. Sterling National Bank is a Queens-based financial institution that has served as a great partner to QCA. Sterling most recently served as part of our Creative Aging conference planning committee.

"Smart Money Matters" covered the fundamentals of budgeting and offered best practices in financial planning. Attendees were given packets containing work sheets that they could use on-site and at home to better manage their income and expenses, as well as identify their financial goals. After the workshop, Nalini shared a few tips with us on how artists can begin to take control of their financial futures.

What would you say is the most important thing that artists should do to prepare for their future?

In my opinion, the most important thing that an artist or any individual should do to prepare for their financial future is assess their current financial situation in order to develop future financial goals. Know your income level, recurring expenses, future debts, and savings. Then determine where you can budget differently- Identify your “needs” (necessity/ primary expenses) versus your “wants” (save instead of splurging) to save for your future.

 Nalini Seepersad-Deen of Sterling National Bank

Nalini Seepersad-Deen of Sterling National Bank

What is a common issue that people have with managing their finances?

A common issue that many people face when trying to manage their finances is not being able to save enough or not saving at all.  It is important to add a little structure in this department- create a priority list of monthly expenses. After all necessary expenses are accounted for, create a savings target (even as little as $25-$50 per month) - minimize spending.  Also give yourself a weekly/monthly budget and learn to manage your allowance for the given timeframe without dipping into your savings. As you have left over allowance funds you can bank it for the future as well. Over time, challenge yourself to save more each month- but you must begin at an attainable number to avoid “borrowing” from your savings.

What are some tools- books, digital apps, etc.- that artists can use to better manage their money?

To better manage your money, you should use a tool that fits your personal needs. You can create a budgeting excel sheet to track your monthly income, expenses and savings. There are various software and cell phone apps that are also available. Take advantage of financial literacy/ wellness courses available. Also utilize your Financial Institution’s personal banking and financial planning free reviews or services.


What is your inspiration for doing the work that you do?

My inspiration for providing Financial Literacy and Workplace/Community Advantage Banking in our community is wanting to make a difference for many underprivileged families.  Many individuals are afraid to talk about their finances because they feel there is no help for them or they are intimidated- I want them to know that everyone has financial concerns and they are not alone! It’s okay to seek advice and as financial representatives we are here to assist you with your financial goals.

Are there any specific resources that artists can access through Sterling National Bank to help their money management?

Sterling National Bank provides free financial reviews and consultation in the communities that we serve.  Our banking staff is also available for personal banking services and Community Banking promotions.


Meet 2018's Visual Artist Peer Circle


Meet 2018's Visual Artist Peer Circle

On Wednesday, August 1, 2018, LAB will present developmental works from our Artist Peer Circle program for visual artists. Through QCA’s peer circle programs artists of all disciplines meet in a small group once a month for nine months to provide one another a support system that benefits their professional development. Led by 2017 ArtHotel Artist-in-Residence and former peer circle participant Erin Treacy, the visual artist peer circle participants included Susan Varo, Fina Yeung, Damali Abrams, Viviane Aquino, and Paula Frisch. They each shared how the Artist Peer Circle program has benefitted their artistic endeavors.

ERIN TREACY | APC facilitator, APC alumni 2012 | Sunnyside | Visual Artist, mostly drawing and painting  

“In 2012, when I first participated I was able to clean up my studio administration practice and build a pop-up exhibition schedule. As a facilitator this past year, it was great timing to remind myself of reflective questioning and bring it into my studio practice as I focused on the concept. Continuously questioning your conceptual practice and the business side of being an artist is important, the monthly accountability allows you to think long-term on project goals.” 


DAMALI ABRAMS | Southeast Queens | Mixed media collage, video, performance, installation

“The Artist Peer Circle program has been helpful to bounce ideas off of each other as well as hear what others are working on. It has been inspiring and motivating. It's also fun to help other artists to brainstorm.”

VIVIANE AQUINO | Astoria | Visual Artist

“The peer circle gave me more focus and it helped to see my daily challenges can be shared with peers. Sometimes, while not having a straight solutions to some issues it was a great deal of support! We artists need each other’s energy.”

PAULA FRISCH | Queens, NYC | Mixed media, textiles

“The Artist Peer Circle program has been a monthly ritual of support and creative energies. It has been a time to share thoughts, concerns, accomplishments and struggles. I have really appreciated how much we learn from each other's perspective and experiences. Peer groups are so important for artists to have opportunity to talk about work, get feedback and build relationships.”

“It's a great way to get to know a new cohort of artists outside of your existing network. The opportunity to learn from artists working in different media, following different career paths and utilizing different creative processes is truly invaluable.”


FINA YEUNG | Glendale, NY | Mixed media artist

The peer circle program helped me refocus on my creative process and start new drawings and paintings. I found the opportunity of sharing my artistic process helped to understand more my goals being an artist and the steps needed for achieving them. It is also helpful that we shared resources on business-related topics. Moreover, the supportive environment and feedback from other artists generated new questions and ideas for my ongoing creative journey.”

This is a program for artists who need a supportive group to nurture their creative ideas and make progress on new projects. It is an opportunity to share the passion of being an artist and learn from other professionals. Their opinions and interests may help make progress on your projects.”

SUSAN VARO | Corona | Painter

My participation in the Artists Peer Circle has introduced me to a great group of artists which has helped me to not only look to my own strengths as a visual artist but, also broadened my options by introducing opportunities to me that I did not know was available.  What I would tell another artist about the program is to allow themselves to be immersed in this opportunity to learn about themselves, share and empower their creative process, be open to listening to other artists to learn about themselves and offer their insights and desires and goals and be ready to take on new opportunities.  Also, share what they know and have learned.” 



Creative Conversations at Community Board 12


Creative Conversations at Community Board 12

Last month we took Jamaica's Creative Conversations meeting from the SUNY Queens Educational Opportunity Center to Community Board 12's last meeting before its summer break. Community Board 12 covers Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, South Ozone Park, and Springfield Gardens. The meetings are hosted every third Wednesday of each month at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center in St. Albans. 

 Molaundo, Sherese Francis, and Samantha Inniss at Community Board 12's monthly meeting

Molaundo, Sherese Francis, and Samantha Inniss at Community Board 12's monthly meeting

 Claudette Morgan and Susan Varo

Claudette Morgan and Susan Varo

Many attendees of Jamaica's Creative Conversations are members of the Southeast Queens Artist Alliance (SEQAA), most of whom had never attended a community board meeting. We decided to use this as an opportunity to get everyone acquainted with how these meetings work. We also wanted to gauge if this would be a good place to introduce SEQAA to the community and its leaders in a more efficient way, considering the room would be full of long-term residents, stakeholders, and political representatives. 

In this meeting issues discussed included the new citywide composting initiative as well as the use and proliferation of hotels in the community. It was a very eye-opening experience and made clear how a community board's perception of a project can negatively or positively impact new initiatives in the community. We plan on attending again this fall and, at some point, making a formal introduction of SEQAA to the Community Board.


Join us at the next Creative Conversations in Jamaica on Wednesday, July 25, 6-8pm, at the SUNY Queens EOC.



Test Your Limits: Advice From A Queens Arts Fund Grantee

 Members of the Eclipses Theater Group New York at the 2018 QAF Awards Ceremony

Members of the Eclipses Theater Group New York at the 2018 QAF Awards Ceremony

With the Queens Arts Fund application now open, we reached out to past grantees to tell us about their grant projects, what they hope to accomplish with their funding, and tips for anyone thinking of applying.

We spoke to Eclipses Group Theater New York, a first-time grantee of the Arts Access Grant, about their experience applying to the Queens Arts Fund.

1. Tell us about your organization and what you do.

 Production view of “Agamemnon” by Aeschylus  Directed by Zishan Ugurlu, Presented at Ellen Stewart theatre La Mama E.T.C., Production of Eclipses Group Theatre NY & Actors Without Borders, 2016

Production view of “Agamemnon” by Aeschylus

Directed by Zishan Ugurlu, Presented at Ellen Stewart theatre La Mama E.T.C., Production of Eclipses Group Theatre NY & Actors Without Borders, 2016

Eclipses Group Theater New York ( is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit theater company that serves as a cultural bridge between Greece and the United States, promoting all forms of Greek drama, music, dance, poetry and literature. We focus on an exploratory approach of Greek and non-Greek classical and modern plays, presenting them to an international audience. We collaborate with Greek artists around the world and with artists of other ethnicities and cultures, developing a global, intercultural artistic dialogue.

2. What is your QAF project?

We are developing Hercules: In Search Of A Hero, a new theater piece that combines original material with elements of Euripides' plays Hercules and Alcestis. Through these plays' contrasting views of the quintessential Greek hero Hercules (who is alternately capable of glorious good and unspeakable evil), our production explores the meaning of heroism in our times.

3. How did you see this QAF grant helping you grow in your practice/for this project?

 Production view of “I Can't Pay! I Won't Pay! by Dario Fo”  Directed by Ioanna Katsarou & Christos Alexandridis, Presented at the Hellenic Cultural Centre of Archdiocesan in Astoria Queens. Production of Eclipses Group Theatre NY, 2015

Production view of “I Can't Pay! I Won't Pay! by Dario Fo”

Directed by Ioanna Katsarou & Christos Alexandridis, Presented at the Hellenic Cultural Centre of Archdiocesan in Astoria Queens. Production of Eclipses Group Theatre NY, 2015

Needless to say, the financial support that QAF grants provide is invaluable for Queens-based organizations. In preparing our applications, we made a conscious decision to pitch an ambitious project that will challenge us to stretch as artists, taking some greater artistic and producing risks that, we hope, will also result in greater visibility for Eclipses. We are honored to be QAF-grant recipients, and we look forward to the challenge!

4. Were there any surprises you ran into while applying for the grant? Do you have any advice for organizations applying for a QAF grant? 

Grant-writing can often seem onerous, but we found the QAF process to be quite reasonable and smooth. The grant requirements were well documented, the application asked engaging questions, and the QCA team was very helpful. To other organizations applying for a QAF grant, we would recommend that they read the guidelines carefully and not be afraid to ask questions if anything is unclear; aim to have everything drafted early so that they have time to review and revise; and not wait until the very end to submit, lest a last-minute technical difficulty derail their entire campaign! We would also encourage future applicants to test their limits, envision a challenging project and share that vision in their application.

Applications for the Queens Arts Fund are now open. To learn more about the grants, visit the site here

Interested in serving on a QAF Panel? Learn more here

Any questions? Contact Dan Bamba, Grants and Residencies Manager at


Miho Ogai, SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence


Miho Ogai, SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence

The SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence program places artists at senior centers across New York City for the purpose of improving the quality of life of our city’s elders through the arts. 2018 SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence Miho Ogai is a glass artist based in Long Island City. For the past 6 months she has worked with seniors at Samaritan Daytop Village Neighborhood Senior Center in Woodside. Miho shared some of her experiences with the SU-CASA program and the impact that it has had on her and her students:


Why do you think programs like SU-CASA are important?

I believe SU-CASA artists help to bring something new and enhance seniors’ daily lives by bringing their artistic knowledge and skills. During my workshops, my students were challenged to work on new projects every week and to expand their creativity. I was very impressed by how much they have improved on their ideas and skills. Many of them seemed to discover their hidden talents!


What was the best thing about teaching in the SU-CASA program?

I had many amazing moments with my students! It always felt so rewarding when I saw my students’ eyes lit up after completing their projects. Many of my students shared with me that my classes inspired them and triggered them to take their painting skills in new direction. Some of the students asked me to give them extra materials so that they could work at home. My students improved and expanded their creativity and produced amazing pieces during the last half term of my workshops. I am proud to have had what feels like such a positive impact on their lives.


What did you work on with your students?

My senior students were very skilled at traditional oil painting. But I wanted them to expand their creativity beyond the traditional oil painting. I taught them how to make art with glass and they were able to learn enameling and sandblasting, as well as being able to apply their previous skills to painting on glass. As they made progress, I gave my students advanced projects that dealt with transparency of glass, illusion, and creating the effects of glass and light such as shadow and mood.

What would you tell another artist about the SU-CASA program?

I would tell another artist that SU-CASA is an amazing program that connects artists and seniors. I believe that art can have a very positive impact in seniors’ lives. I didn’t expect that my abilities could help them in the ways that they did.  What I learned through the program opened another door in my life as well when it comes to teaching older adults. I would definitely encourage another artist apply to SU-CASA program.


Podcast: Aging in Place through a Creative Lens


Podcast: Aging in Place through a Creative Lens

On May 15, 2018, QCA hosted its first conference on creative aging, "Aging in Place through a Creative Lens." The conference brought together artists, arts educators, social services workers, city government representatives, and arts program funders. Hear what some the event's attendees and planning partners had to say about the impact of the conference on our latest podcast.

Planning committee members for "Aging in Place through a Creative Lens" included Rochdale Village Neighborhood Senior Center, Jewish Community Relations Council, Visiting Nurse Services of New York, Elders Share the Arts, RPGA Studio, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, AHRC, Lifetime Arts, Sterling National Bank, and Coffeed.


SU-CASA @Bayswater Senior Center


SU-CASA @Bayswater Senior Center

The SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence program places professional artists in residence at senior centers across New York City in an effort to use the arts to improve the quality of life of our older adults. 2018 SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence Shenna Vaughn is a visual artist based in Jamaica, Queens. She creates abstract and representational 3D work on canvas and recently finished teaching a painting class at Bayswater Neighborhood Senior Center in Far Rockaway. Shenna shared what her experience as a SU-CASA Artist-in-Residence was like:

 Shenna Vaughn and her students

Shenna Vaughn and her students

"Programs like SU-CASA are important because it brings life to the community and its elders. The seniors discover amazing talents and gifts they never knew they had and often mention how therapeutic and healing making art has been for them. My students worked on contemporary art- mixed media, abstract, figurative, landscape and representational paintings. Our final event was an exhibition of over 40 works of art from more than 20 seniors.

The best part about teaching in the SU-CASA program is being able to see the growth in the seniors from the first class to the last and the love and joy that they express as they create.

The one thing I would tell another artist is that the SU-CASA experience is one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences you can ever have. The wisdom and love that you receive from the seniors are priceless. This is an experience that I think every artist should have."


See more photos from the final event on our Flickr page.



Views from both sides of the Queens Arts Fund


The Queens Arts Fund awards grants to individual artists and organizations to fund the creation of new works and distinctive arts and cultural programming that directly serves the citizens of Queens. 

Applications are now open, and we've asked some members of the arts community who have gone through the QAF cycle to share some insights about the grant program and the panel selection process.

Sherese Francis has been involved with many different programs here at Queens Council on the Arts, taking part in Creative Conversations, the Emerging Leaders Artists Peer Circle with our Executive Director Hoong Yee (read her views on the circle here) and has been a QAF grantee both with her own project, one for J. Expressions - a pop-up bookstore that hosted a series of literary events - as well as a leading member of the Southeast Queens Artists Alliance (SEQAA) for their upcoming (C)Art Festival. But what makes Sherese's point of view especially insightful when it comes to talking about QAF is that she has also served on a grant panel, where she and 6 other members of the Queens arts community reviewed artist applications and recommended them for funding.

We asked Sherese some questions about her experience with the Queens Arts Fund, and some advice she has for potential applicants.

QCA: Tell us about yourself and your practice.

I wear several hats! I am a poet, speculative fiction writer, blogger, workshop facilitator and literary curator. Much of my practice involves unconventional and interdisciplinary approaches to the literary field as well as creating platforms for underrepresented communities. For example, my blog, Futuristically Ancient, is an afrofuturist-inspired site that explores speculative fiction culture and tropes (science fiction, fantasy, mythology, spirituality, etc.) from an African Diasporic lens. My other project is J. Expressions, a mobile library and pop-up bookshop dedicated to promoting the work of authors and writers from Southeast Queens (books, handmade books, zines, broadsides, etc.) and cultivating the literary community in the area.

QCA: What was your QAF project last year? 

My project was J. Expressions' first event series, Reading (W)Riting Remedy, which was a series of events each Thursday night in October 2017. The events were a writing workshop ("Poetic Inventions: Word Empowerment"), a book exhibition for the mobile library, a poetry reading ("Revelations & Restoration"), and a panel discussion ("Eat a Scroll: Art & Health"). All of the events were centered around art, writing and healing. 

QCA: How did the QAF grant help you grow in your practice?

Before I received the grant, I only did a few popups with the mobile library, showcasing the books I had collected. But the grant allowed me to expand the mobile library from not just showcasing the books but into curating programming for it. From doing the events and receiving encouraging feedback from those who attended, I could see a larger scope of possibility for the project. The grant also gave the project more credibility, which I could use to apply for other grants and awards, and in engaging other arts organizations and the arts community. 

QCA: Were you able to take anything away from being a panelist?

Not to take rejections so personally when it comes to grant applications or any kind of submission process. Sometimes it's not a reflection of the value of your work, but a responsoe to how the application was written, such as an issue of clarity in its explanation or budget, or your work not fitting with what the current objectives of an organization is. 

QCA: Do you have any advice for anyone applying for a QAF grant? 

When writing your grant, be as clear and direct as possible. Treat it as if the people who will be reading it are not artists who are in your field and are instead a person who is coming to view your work for the first time. How would you explain your work to them? How is your work relevant to the QAF's mission? Also, be aware of how your project can be interpreted -- how do you fit in the project and what relation do you and your project have to the community and how is the project relevant to the time in which you are doing it? Last, always make sure to follow the rules of the grant. A few people had good ideas but we immediately had to disqualify them because they didn't follow the guidelines. 

Applications for the Queens Arts Fund are now open. To learn more about the grants, visit the site here

Interested in serving on a QAF Panel? Learn more here

Any questions? Contact Dan Bamba, Grants and Residencies Manager at

For more information on SEQAA and their artists, you can check out their website here, instagram: @southeastqueensartists and their facebook page here:



Boomerang Girls: Peer Circle Power!

  Me, Ebony, Sherese, Ran, Sara and Diki out in front!

Me, Ebony, Sherese, Ran, Sara and Diki out in front!

Is it really a big surprise that people complain about not being heard, or not being understood?

We learn at a very young age how to use our voices to speak, to show and tell - as in telling people about yourself. Fewer people learn how to use their ears to engage.

I couldn’t get this little verbal exchange off my mind. In conversations, I noticed 2 types of responses to my question, “What is the best way to talk to people and really connect?”

One type of person, I call them Couch Coaches, reacts by dismissing the question with the wearied air of someone who has seen it all and say, “It’s all in your body language. Slouch when you speak and boom! - who’s going to listen to you?” and will go on to explain in exhilarated detail that all people are suspicious of anyone with poor posture.

The other type, the Misunderstood and Mortified, often seize this as an opening for airing a long speech about how rude everyone is and launch into a story about a friend who refuses to speak to anyone in his family unless they apologize. “Apologize for what?” I asked. “Oh, he keeps a list for everyone’s convenience. People are busy, you know.”

Give it a shot. Ask the next person you happen to run into, “What is the best way to talk to people and really connect?” and listen to what they tell you.

Try asking yourself and listen to what you tell yourself.

What I told myself was something Agatha Christie said about how to find a murderer:

Conversation reveals all.

It can’t be a coincidence that the best conversations begin with open ears, not open mouths.

Many writing teachers say that to be a better writer, read more books. This is sound advice for people communicating through words on paper. For everyone who wants to become better at speaking, listen more.

And listen better.

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Once a month, I sit with 5 young women who are emerging leaders of color in Queens and we practice listening in a peer circle. And forming better questions that clarify, probe and magically help each of us to snap back to those wonderful Aha! moments. This is a simple and oh so effective way to get people into the practice of listening with power and intent that has forever lowered my tolerance for insufferable conversations.

We listen in focused silence to each other, 20 minutes per person.

When was the last time you held the uninterrupted attention of 5 people listening to your every word?

We speak in reflective questions, never statements.

No one hijacks the conversation saying things like, “Oh, that just happened to me last week, this is what you should do about it…” or “I know exactly what you mean.” What we can ask is, “Can you clarify what you mean when you said…?”

All of our deeper and more probing questions can begin with either What or Where.

This forces you to rethink and reframe what you want to say into a question that makes the person reflect on what they just said. “What would success look like for you?” Simple, but it works.

We are clear about what we need and what we want to share.

Sometimes you need to talk through a knotty problem, sometimes you want guidance, but most of the time you just have to trust that you already know the answers and that the shared focus of your peers will ricochet that back to you.

Sharing. It is such a casually explored word.  

At it’s best, it can change your worldview. At it’s worst, it is no different than knitting an ugly Christmas sweater for someone you love.

You love to knit, you love these wild and woolly colors, you’d love to give this to someone near and dear to you who you didn’t give the chance to tell you what they really want or what would make them happy.

Is this sharing?

No, this is colonizing, an activity measured in skeins.

Sharing without listening is an exercise is self flattery.

Listening, done well, is the beginning of empathy.  It makes for better conversations and knitwear.

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About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer helps artists & creative people grow their careers with great grant writing strategies & mindsets she has developed over 15 years as an veteran grant panelist, grant maker & grant writer. Get her FREE Master Grant Strategy Worksheet and a weekly dose of insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view.