Pairing and supporting mentorship between queer working artists in New York City.

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Queer/Art/Mentorship was founded on the belief that the more vibrant and supported the queer artistic community is, the more porous its boundaries will become, thereby cultivating superior artistry and sustainable creative careers.

Honoring the differences between the generations within the queer artistic community and the diversity of choices, values, esthetics, and opportunities in artists’ lives, the program supports a rich communion, working against a natural segregation between generations and disciplines. Its goal is to build an interconnected web of queer artists of all generations and mediums who know each other and each other’s work.

Queer/Art/Mentorship was created to support artists in the process of creating this community.

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The program is a year in length. It is largely driven by the unique character of each of the mentor/fellow pairs according to their respective needs and habits of communication, although once-a-month meeting commitments will be suggested. The program coordinators engage in an ongoing dialogue with the mentors and fellows in an effort to ensure that the program best serve its participants.

The entire group of mentor/fellow pairs will also convene for three short meetings throughout the cycle. The goal of the limited group-wide meetings is to encourage dialogues between all levels of participants and between all disciplines. It has been shown in a variety of fields that implement mentor programs that the mentor-to-mentor dialogue that occurs in mentor programs is as significant to the program’s success in developing the field as any that occurs directly between mentor and mentee.

Fellows apply to Queer/Art/Mentorship with a specific project that they would like to undertake during the course of the mentorship. Projects may be in-progress, and they do not need to be “finished” by the end of the program. Proposing a project is a way to introduce oneself to potential mentors, and working on that project in dialogue with a mentor is a way to focus the development of the relationship. Keeping Queer/Art/Mentorship project-based will also provide a manner by which to assess, and modify if necessary, the program’s long-term effectiveness in facilitating and supporting the actual creation of new work.

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History & Context

Queer/Art/Mentorship is an outgrowth of the Queer/Art/Film series presented monthly at the IFC Center in downtown Manhattan. Both were inspired by the lack of support for queer content in mass media, the absence of mentors of who would have been in the generation most strongly affected by AIDS, and the dearth of examples of sustainable alternative careers.

Queer/Art/Mentorship does not expect any kind of specific content in terms of artists’ work or how queerness manifests within and around it, but it gives space and support for conversations about what it means to generate and curate queer work in New York City and America.

The program aims to give a sense of the value of queer work and cultivate a collection of voices that amplify the queer artistic experience. As New York City is a locus of creative capital in the US and abroad, the work encouraged by the program will radiate out and impact the broader culture as well.

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Who are our mentors?
Mentorship is for professionally established, New York-based, mid- to advanced-career artists who work within at least one of the six disciplines of literary, film, performing, visual, music, and curatorial arts.

How do we choose mentors?
Participation in mentorship is by invitation.

Who are our fellows?
The program is for artists who are:

  • self-identified queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender
  • New York City-based
  • early-career and professionally focused, with a body of work already behind them

Artists must be working at a generative level within at least one of the following disciplines:

  • literary (writers of fiction, poetry, nonfiction)
  • film (screenwriters and directors)
  • performing arts (performance artists, playwrights, directors, choreographers)
  • visual (visual artists of all kinds)
  • curatorial arts (using any kind of medium—e.g. books, festivals, exhibits, etc.

Fellows must apply to Queer/Art/Mentorship with a specific project that they would like to undertake during the course of the mentorship.

We look for artists who would receive maximum benefit from the resources of the Program and would bring diverse experiences and perspectives to the Program community.

How do we choose fellows?
To choose fellows we use a two-step juried review to select artists whose work and life reflect a thoughtful engagement with queer communities, stories, histories, politics, and/or aesthetics, and who demonstrate an earnest interest in and need for mentorship.

We convene single juries for each level of the selection process, in which each of the five disciplines are represented, in an effort to curate a well-balanced overall fellowship and mentorship group through the input of professional curators, academics, artistic directors, editors, and presenters throughout New York City.

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LILY BINNS is Co-Executive Director of Pilobolus Dance Theatre; co-author of The Hungry Scientist Handbook (HarperCollins, 2008); and author of the fiction chapbook, The First American Wilderness (JR Vansant, 2011). Formerly, she worked as Managing Editor of Saveur magazine and as a book editor at Ten Speed Press. She lives in Brooklyn.

IRA SACHS is a writer and director based in New York City. His films include Married Life (2007), starring Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson, Rachel McAdams, and Pierce Brosnan; The Delta (1997), and Forty Shades of Blue, staring Rip Torn and Dina Korzun, and the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Film at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. His films have been screened at the Toronto, New York, Berlin, London, Rotterdam, Deauville, Rio, and Pusan film festivals, among many others. A recipient of a Rockefeller Fellowship for Media Arts, Sachs teaches in the Graduate Film department at NYU, and is a fellow at both the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. His most recent short film, Last Address, premiered at the 2010 Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals, and has been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tate Modern, and the New Museum, among others. He is the founder and co-curator of Queer/Art/Film, a monthly series held at the IFC Center in New York.

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