The Artist Commissioning Program at the Queens Council on the Arts is launching a new initiative to help artists throughout Queens.
As an artist, applying for grants can be a frustrating experience.
If they do hear back from the grant program, the artist will typically receive one of two responses. Either they are congratulated or rejected. These rejections offer little to no explanation as to why the artist was turned down in the first place. Not only is this disappointing for the artist, but they are often left feeling unsure about how to move forward.
Queens Council on the Arts Program Manager Kelly Olshan and Executive Director Hoong Yee Krakauer wanted to change that by developing an innovative podcast series. Together, they sought to find a way to give hopeful artists an opportunity to hear constructive comments about their work.
Pontonio, Director of the Art Program at the Tremaine Foundation, stated that, “It’s crazy to me that these arts organizations that pride themselves on artists’ professional development send artists blanket rejection emails with no detail on their applications.
“That is a perfect opportunity for a learning moment,” she added.
Currently, the Artist Commissioning Program does provide applicants with helpful feedback on their applications. Additionally, artists can even receive the panelists comments by calling the QCA staff.
However, the organization wanted to do more for their applicants. They aspired to find a way to have the artists hear their comments in real time.
To make the panel process more transparent, the application sessions were then recorded. With the help of the nonprofit art institution Clocktower Productions, these recordings would then become the podcast series “What Are The Gaps in American Culture?”
This initiative was a first for QCA as their other grant-making programs including the Queens Art Fund, SU-CASA, ArtHotel Residency, had never made any panel recordings before.
By recording the audio from the panel sessions, the Arts Commissioning Program could then review it, process it, and edit out any sensitive material, such as the artists names and project titles. This would allow artists to hear the responses to their art in a way that had never been attempted before.
In the first episode of “What Are The Gaps in American Culture?” Olshan speaks with the Executive Director of QCA, Hoong Yee Krakauer. Together they discuss how the podcast came to be.
“I wanted this podcast to be an oral stake in the ground, so people can hear what we did...the more of us [that] talk about this, the quicker we can come to a set of words that will be more equitable,” Krakauer said.
Other Art Producers featured on the podcast include, Brendez Wineglass, Margot Yale, Jacqueline Dugal, and Adele Eisenstein. Together they discuss their process of how they come to select artists for the program. They also talk about how they decided what works are not yet visible in American culture.
By next month, audio content will be published directly from the Artist Commissioning Program to SoundCloud.
The “What Are the Gaps in American Culture?” podcast will offer a new and valuable resource for Queens artists everywhere to further develop their professions.
Listen to the first podcast here.