Creative Citizen: A talented thinker that combines business insight with artistic creativity, strategy and vision to create, curate and entertain. A Better Jamaica Founder and Jamaica, Queens born and raised resident Greg Mays, discusses his experience as a “Creative Citizen” with our Community Outreach Coordinator Samantha Inniss. Greg talked with Samantha about using his creative skills as a resource in his own community.
1) Samantha Inniss: Tell us what makes you a “Creative Citizen.”
Greg Mays: I would categorize myself as a creative cheerleader. I take great pride in advocating for and encouraging artists in my community. So for example, an artist that I know is a wonderfully talented person but was not taking advantage of grant opportunities that were particular to their artistic needs, I would guide and go with them to QCA information sessions. If they could not attend all sessions, as some would not be able to attend because of conflicting work schedules or long work hours, I would go on their behalf to find out if they meet the qualifications. I make sure to find out about all the opportunities so I could share it with them. Many haven’t applied for a grant before or were not aware of QCA grants, so I help them through the process and sometimes I apply for the grant myself to hire artists to perform in one of my many program initiatives. So it is a way for me to get artists to apply for grants and learn the process for there own benefit.
2) Samantha Inniss: Most people think that QCA is for artists only. As a “Creative Citizen,” how did you find out that QCA fit into the mission of what you set out to do?
Greg Mays: I did my research through the Department of Cultural Affairs looking for resources and came across QCA and applied to fund one of my programs. So I then I became a recipient of the Queens Arts Fund. Once I learned what it took for me to get a grant I then encouraged other people. I said, “Look I got a grant, I know the process and therefore I think you can get a grant too based on what I know about you.” So there was a little more creditability having received the grant and it helped to motivate others to apply and utilize the QCA resources when I talked to people.
3) Samantha Inniss: So what in QCA have you been apart of and how has QCA helped you? Greg Mays: I first received the Queens Arts Fund which helped me when applying to other grants, then the Artist Commissioning Program sounded great, I was accepted and learned about commissioning and how to further support artists, also I been apart of Creative Conversations, attended QCA Galas and I recently paid to become a member and support QCA since they have supported me. Plus, I been apart of the grant panels to review grant applications and choose new recipients. When I didn’t receive a grant I applied for, I was able to receive notes on the reason why to help my chances for other grant opportunities.
4) Samantha Inniss: What is one thing you learned through QCA that you would give as a piece of advice to another Creative Citizen?
Greg Mays: Apply for the grants! QCA grant applications are much easier to complete and receive than the city, state and federal level applications and QCA would help you throughout the process. It is great learning experience for first time grant applicants. In advocating for artists, we have also acted as a fiscal agent. We as a non-profit receive the grant and can fiscally sponsor artist projects to encourage them to apply for a grant and develop professionally as an artist.
If you see yourself as a Creative Citizen too, check out all that QCA has to offer to see if your creative project can be developed through the assistance of QCA.
For more about Greg and his organization, you can check out his website here.