SPARC 06-14 (1) copy“SPARC artists and senior participants bring an incredible amount of imagination and dedication to their projects…Whether it’s a choral performance in the Bronx or a mural unveiling in Brooklyn, these events give us an opportunity to celebrate this year’s SPARC program, which has expanded access to the arts for seniors and increased support for working artists.”  -Tom Finkelpearl, Cultural Affairs Commissioner

After wrapping up a successful year of SPARC programs in 11 senior centers across the borough Queens Council on the Arts is pleased to announce SPARC for 2015! As you may be aware, Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide (SPARC) is a community arts engagement program that places artists-in-residence at senior centers across the five boroughs of New York City. The program provides selected artists with a stipend in exchange for the creation and delivery of arts programming for seniors. Selected artists will engage seniors in an art project or series of cultural programs over the course of the residency, which must also include a public program component – exhibits, readings, performances, open houses and other cultural interactions open to the surrounding community. This initiative seeks to connect artists with seniors in senior centers and positively impact the well-being of seniors through arts-based activities.

Artists will be selected for SPARC through a competitive application process. A call for applications is expected to be released on September 3rd, 2014 for the SPARC 2014-2015 program and will be available on the QCA website for all artists interested in working with a senior center in the borough of Queens. Artists interested in a SPARC residency with a senior center in another borough are encouraged to visit the website of that borough’s local arts council for application materials and guidelines. The submission deadline is September 30th, 2014.

SPARC is a collaboration among the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York City Department for the Aging and five of the City’s local arts councils situated in each borough – Brooklyn Arts Council, Bronx Council on the Arts, Staten Island Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Queens Council on the Arts.

Stay tuned to the QCA website for the application on September 3rd 


20140728_115056Join Queens Council on the Arts (QCA) in celebrating the accomplishments of young artists of the High School to Art School portfolio development program! Student portfolio artwork will be exhibited at QCA, highlighting the many techniques and concepts central to the HS2AS program.

HS2AS 2014 Summer Exhibition

Now until Thursday, August 7th

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


 QCA’s High School to Art School Portfolio Development Program (HS2AS) provides high school juniors and seniors with high quality arts skills training including portfolio development, college application assistance, and financial aid planning for college. We prepare our students to compete for admission to distinguished art programs in colleges, universities, and art schools through portfolio preparation and the college/art school application process.

HS2AS enjoys a high success rate of undergraduate admissions and scholarship assistance for its participating students. 100% of the 2014 graduating class gained admission to the top 20 national universities. HS2AS students have been accepted to The Cooper Union, Pratt, Parsons, New York University, Fashion Institute of Technology, CUNY-Hunter College, SUNY-Purchase, RISD, and more.

HS2AS is made possible with generous support from New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Altman Foundation, Aviation Development Council, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, Con Edison, New York Community Bank Foundation, New York Community Trust, Pinkerton Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and TD Charitable Foundation. For more information visit:

Lucio and sons (1)

The image is of of Lucio Castillo from Puebla, Mexico and his sons demonstrating the act of cutting sugar cane. The small town in which he lived is known for producing sugar and he would work in the fields all day cutting sugar cane. While he was telling his story of his home, his sons lit up and became so interested in his story. I particularly love this moment of the three of them grasping his home.

If it’s summer in Queens, then it must be time for the new cycle of the Queens Arts Fund.

If you are wondering, “what’s new for the 2015 QAF grant cycle?” you came to the right place.

QCA is happy to announce that with funds from the NYSCA Community Arts Program (formerly known as Decentralization), we will be awarding four (4) commissions of $2,500 each to socially engaged individual artists. Applicants who best demonstrate their ability to work closely with their community, and be inspired by that community to create a new art project will be eligible.

So what is it like to work directly with a community to create art? I reached out to Roshani Thakore to get her take on what a “community” means to her and what challenges and rewards she found while creating her funded project.

Roshani is a 2014 Queens Arts Fund recipient, whose project, MOVE WITH US, involves direct participation from the new immigrant community, inspiring dialog and spontaneous performance. The following is what she had to say.

What does community mean to you?

I believe a community contains a number of key elements: inclusion, solidarity, support, resources and serving a purpose or need. The strongest and most important component of a community is the community member – each individual member has something to bring to the table. And they may not know that yet and it’s the power of community that can harbor and develop that. I think Queens is a particularly unique place that allows for so many different types of communities to exist and thrive independently and within the greater context of New York City.

What are the challenges you find in working with your community?

One challenge I knew was going to come up was communication. That’s why when applying for funding for my current project, MOVE WITH US, I made sure to budget for interpreters and translation services. There’s also the communication challenge of contemporary “art-speak” to individuals who may not be familiar with that particular language. So it’s working on clear, simplified language and adapting that to your audience to make that connection. The other hurdle I had to work through personally was being able to let go and share ownership of the project. I was being inclusive but I realized the participation I was allowing was only through specific avenues (e.g., the donors fund, the interpreter translates, the participant poses, and the photographer shoots). These “roles” were limiting the potential of the project and when I realized that, I let go and a more interesting and substantial involvement came about. Letting go can be especially difficult when your proposed work is tied to a specific outcome for which you’re being held accountable – e.g. getting a grant to do the work vs. doing the work and letting it ebb and flow naturally. So that also means making clear and realistic goals, being adaptable and revising them, and listening and trusting your community.

What are the rewards?

What a hard question to answer! (Primarily because the rewards aren’t necessarily quantitative.) I have learned so much and have a better understanding about my neighbors, about Queens, about places across the globe, and about different ways of doing things and existing. I’ve developed relationships and connections so rich and fulfilling. My world has gotten bigger and smaller at the same time. And I want to live in a world where individuals have opportunities to create better worlds for themselves.

Check out more information on Roshani Thakore’s MOVE WITH US project here.

Other opportunities for QAF cultural programming include:

  • Individual artists can apply with a fiscal sponsor for NYSCA organization funds for grants of $1,000- $5,000.
  • NYC DCA funds continue to support individual artists without a fiscal sponsor and nonprofit organizations located in Queens. These are also $1,000-$5,000.

For complete guidelines and eligibility for the 2015 Queens Arts Fund click here.

Photo Credit: Fumi Nakamura.


Yeong ji Yoo, (left) HS2AS instructor and students, accompanied by Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, Executive Director of QCA along with Carol Conslato, Con Edison’s Director, Community & Public Affairs and Andres J. Ledesma, Con Edison’s MPA, Public Affairs Specialist.

Carol Conslato, Con Edison’s, Director, Community & Public Affairs and Andres J. Ledesma, Con Edison’s MPA, Public Affairs Specialist presented Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, Executive Director of Queens Council on the Arts along with Yeong ji Yoo, HS2AS instructor and students with a generous contribution in support of its High School to Art School Portfolio Development Program (HS2AS). The presentation took place on July 22, 2014 at the Queens Council on the Arts Office in the Kaufman Arts District, 37-11 35th Ave, Astoria.

HS2AS enjoys a high success rate of undergraduate admissions and scholarship assistance for its participating students. 100% of the 2014 graduating class gained admission to the top 20 national universities. Overall, the Class of 2014 accumulated $1,021,400 in scholarship awards thanks to the quality of their HS2AS portfolios. The graduating class will pursue their undergraduate art degrees in fall 2014 at renowned colleges and universities like Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, Maryland Institute of Art, New York City College of Technology, Pratt Institute, The Cooper Union, and Vassar College – all thanks to their participation in the HS2AS Program.

HS2AS is a free program for high school junior and seniors in Queens and New York City. HS2AS’ goal is to help 55 aspiring students become accepted into nation-wide art colleges. This is accomplished by providing students the opportunity to build superior art portfolios that earn them the competitive edge for college entry and scholarship opportunities. Overall, HS2AS provides participating students with an understanding of the arts, both inside and outside of the studio setting. Classes foster the ability to learn the fundamental techniques and concepts to create their own work; as well as provide students with skills and techniques to critique peer work. Additional exposure to the arts includes field trips to artists’ studios, museums, galleries and talk-back sessions with working artists.

HS2AS is made possible with generous support from Con Edison, NYSCA, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Altman Foundation, Aviation Development Council, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, New York Community Bank Foundation, New York Community Trust, Pinkerton Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and TD Charitable Foundation.

For more information about the HS2AS program visit:

On Friday July 18th QCA’s 3rd Space will be celebrating the launch of the new web-based project QNSMADE which celebrates the cultural creators and local businesses of our favorite borough. But what is QNSMADE and who is it for? I chatted with creator Amy Wu about the process and purpose behind the new site.

I do want to put Queens on the map in a manner that respects the people who reside and work here.

- Amy Wu, creator of QNSMADE


Who is the audience for QNSMADE? 
The audience for the official QNSMADE site is anyone looking to know more about the borough they grew up in, people who recently moved here, and any person who is curious about who makes up Queens—all 80 neighborhoods. Touted as an outer borough of New York City, things said about it are it’s very far away from everything else, it has the best food, the most culture and diversity, and there is truth in all of these things, but my hope is that QNSMADE will let the people of Queens speak and define the borough for ourselves. 

What will QNSMADE contribute to communities in Queens?


“Spotted”: Queens street portraiture, by Jaina Teeluck

Honestly, I’m not sure where I see QNSMADE planting its feet in the communities of Queens. That is gigantic undertaking! And it’s to soon to think about! I recognize that QNSMADE and the success of the kickstarter puts pressure on me to show what I’m made of and now the real work starts—launching the official website. With the power of crowdsourcing, literally to “put your money where your mouth is” time! The pressure is good and the 10,000 hours I speak of, I’m happy to do it. It would be egotistical of me to think that QNSMADE will impact communities overnight, I want to earn the respect of the people of Queens and its many communities. I expect people to hold me to my promises and by being very public since the very start, letting people in on my plans, giving people a stake in the success of QNSMADE has been rewarding and continues to be so.
I’m just taking it day by day, trial and error, and my humble hope is that QNSMADE will shed light on parts of Queens that is unknown even to the very people who were born and raised here.
There are so many young artists in NYC that carve out their own space to create something new without meeting their neighbors or engaging the communities that have lived in their neighborhoods before they arrived. Even though QNSMADE has a young, hip vibe to it, I really admire your dedication to documenting the experiences of locals through portraiture & to highlight local businesses. Why was this important to you?
Firstly, thank you. QNSMADE came out of my Entrepreneurial Design class at graduate school, and originally I just wanted to interview my friends who were doing cool stuff, so I could have pigeonholed myself in that group of young artists who did not go out to meet their neighbors. Thankfully, I have awesome friends who made me see that I was excluding people in my way of thinking. I have always been interested in designing for social good and this is my small contribution to my hometown. And if I was going to do this, define Queens, I wanted to do it 100%, which meant the only way to try and encompass everything about Queens was to talk to locals, to be in the streets taking photographs of people, and to bring awareness to mom and pop shops, especially those that still make local goods.

I didn’t have to carve out this space, Queens is where I grew up, and this is where I have called home for 28 years. I’m no expert and I look to those around me to learn the ropes and discover more about Queens. I think it was important for me to document these three aspects: interviews, photographs, and directory because with all this talk about gentrification perhaps QNSMADE can capture the changing city, because yes change is inevitable, but we can have a say in the change. I do want to put Queens on the map, it already is, but in a manner that respects the people who reside and work here.


“Spotted”: Queens street portraiture, by Jaina Teeluck

“QNSMADE will let the people of Queens speak and define the borough for ourselves.”

- Amy Wu, creator of QNSMADE


What is your strategy for stopping people on the street to photograph them? 
My talented friend Jaina Teeluck and I choose two neighborhoods for the day, we hop on the train, and hit the streets and randomly ask people if we can take their photograph. It’s as simple as that. We try to preface it by saying it is for a school project, that it will be on a website, and they can check it out. I am not a photographer, so I let Jaina do her magic. I bring my camera to learn from her and through practice I hope to pick up some skills. I think I have a eye for what I want, but Jaina is the one behind almost all the QNSMADE street portraits, give and take a few from me. Some people have asked us, why we want to take their photo, they are taken aback since they are just going about their day, and I hope it brings a little light to their daily routine.
What do you love most about Queens?
I can say the food, but that is an obvious answer. It’s true though, I have traveled a little bit and I can say hands down there is no place like Queens, where I can eat authentic Nepalese, Brazilian, Columbian, Indian, Mexican, Taiwanese, Greek, Peruvian, and more all in one day, in one borough. I love Queens because this is where I call home. I can hang out in the city and Brooklyn, but it’s nothing like walking through Queens, especially Flushing, where I know just where to go to get my shoes and watch repaired, where to get my hair cut, and to fill a craving I’m having that day. 
Come share what you love about Queens, meet Amy and the other artists behind QNSMADE, get a first look at the new site, and treat yourself to some brews and bites. RSVP here!