Festival directors, Don and Katha Cato at last year's opening night.

Festival directors, Katha and Don Cato at last year’s opening night. Photo by Alex Lopez.

The Queens World Film Festival kicked off its fourth annual series of screenings this past Tuesday at the Museum of the Moving Image in Long Island City. The multi-day festival, organized by Don and Katha Cato, was partially funded by the 2014 Queens Arts Fund NYSCA grant for Organizations.

Welcoming remarks came courtesy of Founding Sponsor Investors Bank, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and City Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer and Danny Dromm.

Following these introductions, a selection of short films were screened to the sold-out theater. In the audience was Lynn Lobell, Managing Director of QCA (but you already knew that), who said that the initial of shorts gave a good “taste of what’s to come.” Lauren Zelaya, QCA 3rd Space Coordinator (and Museum of the Moving Image Educator), noted a very diversity in both the themes and styles of the films and the nationalities of the filmmakers themselves.

There are 127 films screening at the 2014 festival–too many too list in this brief blog post–ranging from documentary to animation to feature length narrative. Today through Saturday you can catch screenings at the Nesva Hotel in LIC, The Secret Theater (also in LIC), and PS 69 in Jackson Heights.

On top of the many screenings, there is a free-to-attend Industry Panel tonight, March 6 at 5:30 pm at PS 69 in Jackson Heights. Sandra Schulberg, Warrington Hudlin, Marc Jacobson, and Josh Green will touch on the myriad issues surrounding film finance and distribution in the age of streaming media.


This post was written by Sam Dalsheimer, Administrative Assistant for the Queens Arts Fund.

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IMG_0721This Saturday, March 8th, is the first meeting of the Spring HS2AS as the Fall/Winter HS2AS group wraps up and sends in their college applications.

Reflecting on her experience, Farzana, a Fall HS2AS alumni, said “HS2AS has given me the opportunity to challenge myself and experiment with different materials and techniques.  I liked giving feedback from my classmates and giving feedback to them as well.  My artwork has gotten better in quality because of the practice.  I am also better at thinking and planning what I want to do and what is means.”

We are excited to be bringing in new artists along with some returning. As a part of the Van Lier Fellowship a few students were invited back to continue working and critiquing with us, while acting as mentors to our new students. We think it will be a great way for our students to develop stronger work while learning about teaching as they mentor the younger students.

Spring semester hits the ground running with figure drawing on the first day and on the horizon are many field trips, visiting artists and career info day, where students learn about careers in the arts from arts professionals.

For more information visit: http://queenscouncilarts.org/student/

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Two of our HS2AS students, brothers Joel and Xavier Polanco, drew portraits of guests at a fundraising event held earlier this month. Queens Council on the Arts held the event to raise money for a stop gap scholarship fund at Manducatis Rustica in Long Island City.  The proceeds will support scholarships for our High School to Art School Portfolio Development students.  The event raised close to $20,000, surpassing its original goal of $10,000!
We are well on our way to helping our students in fully funding their college education.  The stop gap scholarships will fill in the gaps between financial aid that our students receive and the cost of going to college.

The first event of the Moveable Feast Artist Dinner series was Hemlines & Waistlines: An evening where Couture meets Cuisine / An experience where Ready-To-Wear meets Ready-To-Eat featuring Queens Artist Mark Salinas and Celebrity Chef Dave Martin.


xavier 2

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Courtney Kristen Liu performs with Monica Hogan Danceworks

3rd Space will present an evening with Queens-based dancers and choreographers who will be performing works-in-progress. Artists and the culturally curious are invited to participate in an evening of movement and discussion, to help workshop works-in-progress and gain unique insight into the artistic process. Dancers are especially encouraged to join us for a unique networking and community building opportunity.

A Night with Dancers

Friday, February 21st  7pm – 9pm

Queens Council on the Arts
37-11 35th Ave, Entrance on 37th Street
Astoria, NY 11101

Admission $5

Leap In


Selma, Hazel, Monica

Monica Hogan is a choreographer, dancer, and teacher. As artistic director of Monica Hogan Danceworks, she creates works that draw on the themes of the human experience, reimagining archetypal relationships through compositional innovation. Monica Hogan Danceworks cultivates collaboration by integrating dance performance with alternative digital and artistic media. Hogan aims to unite dance artists of diverse backgrounds, allowing their unique experiences to contribute to the creative process. She creates an inclusive rehearsal environment where dancers commit their own artistic voice to the movement.

Hazel Lever is an alumna of Harvard College, where she performed with, choreographed for, and served on the board of the Harvard Ballet Company. She has choreographed work for the Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club—including productions of HAIRCabaret, and Wonderful Town—and Opera Brittenica’s inaugural production, The Rape of Lucretia.  Her work has shown at Green Space in Queens and at Columbia University.  Lever has trained with Ballet Spartanburg, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Joffrey Midwest, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Harvard Dance Program, and at Bates Dance Festival.

Selma Treviño is a performer/choreographer/director and co-founder of Corporeal Arts Incorporated, a non-profit theater company that combines forms that are primarily expressed through the body—such as mime, martial arts, and dance— to devise physically engaging theatre performances. Selma holds a MA in Performance Studies from NYU and a BA in Theater from UNICAMP, Brazil. Selma is currently developing new works, researching cultural physicality from Brazil. Her first result was the choreography “Brasileirinho” performed as a work-in-progress at the Crossing Boundaries series at the Dixon Place in New York.


Are you a Queens-based artist looking for space to show a work-in-progress, workshop material, or network with a group of artists or community members? We want to hear from you! Check out our 3rd Space Proposal Forum and contact us at QCA3rdSpace@gmail.com.

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I sat on a panel with three very smart people from a foundation, a politician’s office and from the artist community.  After spending time reading drafts of letters of inquiry from attendees seeking financial support, we came away with a handful of advice.

Eight tips, to be precise.  I paired them with some images in this quick little video.  They are also here with some of my thoughts.

Do you have a project you  are passionate about?

Chances are you will need other people to fall in love with what you are doing to make your project a success.  You will need a bigger pool of supporters and fans to rally and believe in your work.

How do you convey what you know so well to a prospective patron or supporter?  With so many people competing for funding for their projects, do you ever wonder if your letter of inquiry has a chance?

According to a recent grant panel I participated in, the funder awarded 20 grants out of a pool of 1700 applicants.   Pretty competitive.

Foundations, philanthropies, and government funders are overwhelmed with requests . You probably are just as frustrated by the process.

So how can you make your next letter of inquiry jump out of the slush pile into the yes pile?  Where do you start and is it worth the effort?

You bet it is. And it’s easier than you think.

Chances are, your letter is one of many similar letters that land on the desk of a grant officer slowly drowning in a sea of paper.  Now, if you were that person, what would be the first thing you would want to do to make your life easier?

Here’s a hint:  Hunting for a reason to keep a letter in the slush pile is not the answer.

The truth is, that first thing that reader wants to do is whittle down the pile of letters to consider by eliminating the weak ones.  You don’t want to give them any reason to toss your letter out of the pile.

You work hard for what you love and now you need to that love to come back to you.

The following are eight ways to get Eight Days A Week  worth of love for that project you love.  They are easy to use and can double your letter’s appeal and chances for getting to yes:

1.  Be Clear

Arthur Schopenhauer
Be simple and clear about what you need.  The clarity of your request will be greatly appreciated by people who do not have to go digging through pages of text to find out exactly who you are, what you want and most important of all, how they can be helpful.


“I respectfully request $10,000  (WHAT)  to support three productions of original plays about seeking identity as second generation immigrants  (WHY and WHY THIS MATTERS)  by emerging Bengali playwrights  (WHO)  to take place in September  (WHEN) at the XYZ Theatre  (WHERE).”

2. Be Short & Sweet


short and sweet
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Use short sentences.  Choose simple words, not jargon.


  • children under 5, not constituent
  • make friends, not outreach
  • work with people, not implement a program
  • understand, not seek common ground
  • see if it works, not assess the metrics

Your writing should follow The Mini Skirt Rule and be:

Long enough to cover the basics and short enough to be enticing.

3. Do Your Homework

do your homework

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Nothing is worse than a letter requesting apples from someone that has oranges.

Take the time to find out what projects your local legislator has funded in your district to see if your project is something they would be interested in.


“Your support of the ABC reading series for seniors at local library branches is a greatly needed and appreciated community program.  Our intergenerational open mic workshop has been carefully designed to build upon this success and to give local seniors more ways to become involved with the rapidly growing literary community in your district.”

You have shown your knowledge of a project that has been recently funded.  Rather than duplicate efforts, you are enhancing this  program’s success by collaborating with other local resources.  This shows you understand how to build working partnerships and how to leverage support in a deeper way.

4. Update Your Website


 The first place people will go to find out more about you is your website.

Make sure there is fresh content on your homepage and that your contact information is up to date and easy to find.  Add images to make your pages more attractive.

A ghost town website will undermine your credibility.

5. Love Your Layout

written text

Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone

Dorothy Parker

Most people skim before they read.  A wall of text is sure to make someone’s eyes glaze over.

Why not break up your text into two or three short paragraphs and add white space to “let your words breathe”?

Use bulleted lists to make it easy for your eyes to focus on important points.

6. Get Another Set of Eyes

get a second set of eyes

Abraham Lincoln

Not your mom.  She will love you no matter what you write.

Get someone unfamiliar with your field to review your letter and see if your message is clear to them.   Ask a colleague to proofread your work.

Then ask your mom.

7. Make it Easy

make it easy

Zig Ziglar

If you are sending work samples such as a video or an audio recording, make sure everything is clearly marked and cued up ready to go.  This is actual proof that you are an expert in what you love to do and promise of your potential.  A little attention to the technical details will prevent glitches from preventing people from seeing you in action.

Send your letter out as a PDF and as an attachment.

Having your document in both formats makes it easier for people to access no matter how old or temperamental their computer is.  People will appreciate having options.

8. Follow up

follow up

Rose Kennedy

Now that your letter has been sent,  you have an opportunity to check in.  If you are successful, say thank you.  A lot.  You can never express your appreciation enough.

If you are not successful, you can call and say thank you for their consideration.  You can also develop a relationship by asking for panel comments and where you fell short so that you can do a better job the next time.

No is not no.  It is not yet waiting to become a yes.


Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer

Executive Director and someone who knows a thing or two about how to create a rich life.