Hip to Hip Theatre Company has received a whopping 12 Queens Arts Fund (QAF) grants since 2009. Their focus is on presenting free professional performances of Shakespeare’s classics in Queens parks all over our vast borough. Artistic Director for Hip to Hip, Jason Marr, kindly took a moment to answer some questions for us about Hip to Hip and how QAF has helped shape their growth as the premiere producers of Shakespeare in the park in Queens.
Jason Marr (center) performing with Hip to Hip on the Long Island City waterfront
Hip to Hip has received several QAF grants over the years. What has been the most immediate, positive impact of receiving these grants?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, QAF helped us really get in the game. In 2009, the first year we received funding through QAF, we doubled the size of our programming and quadrupled our reach. In fact, even applying had a positive impact on our young organization because it pushed us to really examine our administrative structure, our short-term and long-term goals, and it allowed us to dream bigger. I am happy to give a lot of credit to QAF for helping us focus and expand our mission to include the whole borough of Queens.
Have your QAF grants opened up any opportunities for Hip to Hip beyond just the immediate impact of getting that sweet, green cash money?
Absolutely. Funding begets more funding. The most obvious opportunity funding from QAF opened up to us is avenues to other funding sources. When individual donors and foundations look at your organization and see that a local arts council is on your list of supporters, it gives you an advantage because they see that the organization is already on the road to sustainability and accountability. In other words, having QAF’s “stamp of approval” makes you a safe bet for other funders.
You perform at several public parks throughout the vast geography of Queens. Can you describe the impact your programming has had on each of these communities?
An important part of our mission is to bring professional cultural activity to those who would not otherwise have access to it. In order to achieve this, we do three things: (1) we try to target communities that are underserved; (2) our programming is free; and (3) our programming is held in public parks. Of these three, it is the “free” and “public parks” that makes all the difference, because we reach more than just the folks who may have seen our poster or received a flyer from a local civic organization, but we also reach a lot of people who just happen to be in the park that day. During a performance of Hamlet in Flushing Meadows two years ago, a group of teenagers on bikes stopped in their tracks when they stumbled upon our show in progress, and I’ll never forget the look of surprise on their faces, and I’ll never forget how they slowly laid their bikes on the ground and became engrossed in this live cultural community event.
Because we run a borough-wide tour, one of our biggest challenges is really connecting to each of the communities. Last year, we launched an outreach campaign that partnered us with the Community Boards in each of our target communities, which in turn partners us with over 100 civic organizations.
How is the 2015 season looking?
2015 promises to be our biggest and brightest yet. For our ninth year of programming, we will be touring our children’s workshop “Kids & the Classics” and our professional productions of The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of Windsor to ten parks all over the borough from July 22 to August 16, and we anticipate reaching nearly 8,000 people.
QCA presents the Jamaica Arts Leaders Program
Create a new arts community in Jamaica!
The Queens Council on the Arts (QCA) is looking for visionary artists & thinkers to be part of the next big arts scene unfolding in the southeast Queens neighborhood of Jamaica. Join us at JCAL on April 8, 6:30-8:00pm to learn more!
What is this all about?
The next exuberant art scene poised to become the most exciting and vibrant destination site of Queens.
And we want to be sure that artists are a central part of this growing community.
The Jamaica Arts Leaders Program is part of the creative movement to revitalize Jamaica through the arts and to become part of the important conversations that will affect the future of this community.
Who is this for?
Artists, performers, musicians and creative thinkers of all disciplines are invited to apply to participate in the Jamaica Arts Leaders program.
Hosted at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL), this initiative is dedicated to developing local arts leadership in Jamaica through creativity and focused collaboration among artists like you.
Selected artists must live in Jamaica and commit to 6 monthly sessions with local artists beginning in April 2015.
Artists selected for the Jamaica Arts Leaders Program will also gain access to QCA’s Build Your Own Business workshops that are designed to develop your creative careers through grantwriting, marketing and fundraising strategies for artists.
Here’s what you do next:
Attend our last info session on April 8, 2015, 6:30pm – 8:00pm at Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, 161-04 Jamaica Ave, Jamaica, NY 11432.
Complete our application (JamaicaArtsLeadersApplication) and return it to us at email@example.com by April 8, 2015.
SPARC residencies are underway at 11 senior centers across the borough! The program got off to a great start with a kickoff event at the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs including professional development activities and a panel discussion on SPARC engagement and outreach strategies.
Here at QCA, we were joined by City Council Member, Jimmy Van Bramer, Borough President, Melinda Katz and Cultural Affairs Deputy Commissioner, Eddie Torres to acknowledge and celebrate the 2015 SPARC artists (among other grant recipients).
Image: SPARC artists and friends at QCA event (from right to left) Henry Holmes, Hilary Ramos, Irina Wen and Ian Wen
SPARC Artists Henry Holmes, Hilary Ramos and Billy Mills were featured in a recent Queens Tribune article! When asked about their upcoming dance project at Ridgewood Older Adult Center, Henry Holmes said the “Both of us are really excited about the opportunity to work with people with different bodies, people who aren’t necessarily trained professional dancers. They have a different perspective and a whole different outlook on what movement is.”
David Mills is conducting a poetry workshop at Rochdale Village Senior Center. SPARC participant Sandra Cooper said “When this seminar was offered, it really ignited me. It really stirred me up. I started writing again and I was very happy about that.”
As always, stay tuned for more updates about SPARC and to see how these residencies develop!
The Asteria Indie Collective brings you “Marsala Love”
Treat yourself to some love everyday, not just on Valentine’s Day. Continuing the celebration, the Asteria Indie Collective (AIC) will be hosting an intimate Trunk Show on February 21st, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Queens Council on the Arts. AIC will have products for sale from Luni Jewelry, D.Webb Designs & My Urban Illumination, including free mini-tarot readings.
The Asteria Indie Collective is a collection of Queens-based artists aiming to create a memorable multi-cultural and interactive experience for the community. The AIC Trunk Show will feature the founders of the collective:
Tatianna Morales: My Urban Illumination http://tatiannatarot.tumblr.com/
Lorenia Henriquez: Luni Jewelry http://www.lunijewelry.com/
D.Webb Designs: Apparel & Accessories http://www.dwebbdesigns.com/
AIC’s founders felt a strong need for a diverse market where artists and entrepreneurs of all kinds can connect for a dynamic, interactive experience. AIC will provide a warm & multi-sensory experience, providing unique and creative items for sale.
HIGH SCHOOL TO ART SCHOOL (HS2AS) is a FREE portfolio preparation program designed to help you get there.
Our students have been accepted to schools such as the Cooper Union, Pratt, Parsons, SAIC, RISD with over $1.8M in scholarships.
SHARE with your STUDENTS this OPPORTUNITY for ART COLLEGE preparation!
SPRING PROGRAM (Feb – May 2015)
Interviews on February 7, 2015
Intro to Portfolio Prep – High School Sophomores and Juniors: 10 Saturdays, 9am to 2pm
Art skills training, portfolio preparation, museum/gallery/studio visits, Career Info day with art industry professionals
Please submit an application at queenscouncilarts.org/hs2as-application and schedule your interview time between 9am to 2pm.
For interviews (on February 7th), please bring your sketchbook and five pieces of artwork to:
Queens Council on the Arts
37-11 35th Avenue, Entrance on 37th Street
Astoria, NY 11101
For more information, email HS2AS program coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUMMER AND FALL PROGRAMS also available:
SUMMER PROGRAM (July – Aug 2015)
Boot Camp Session – Rising High School Juniors and Seniors
6 Weeks, Monday – Thursday
Art skills training, portfolio preparation, college application & financial aid information assistance,
exclusive portfolio reviews by college reps, exhibition of work
FALL PROGRAM (Oct 2015 – Feb 2016)
Seniors Intensive Session – High School Seniors only
13 Thursday evenings and 13 Saturday sessions
Art skills training, portfolio preparation, museum/gallery/studio visits, visiting artist workshops,
college application & financial aid information assistance, exclusive portfolio reviews by college reps
Check out our website for application deadlines and forms at queenscouncilarts.org/hs2as-application
HS2AS is a program of Queens Council on the Arts, a 501(c)3 organization to foster and develop arts and culture in Queens