Jamaica to welcome artists with free residencies


In keeping with their mission to become a one-stop shop for artists, the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL) is partnering with Exploring the Metropolis (EtM) to provide free workspace residencies for choreographer-composer duos.

EtM, the only New York City-based nonprofit focused exclusively on workspace issues for the performing arts, has created a new program in partnership with JCAL to address these problems.

“We are extremely excited to partner with EtM in this pilot program for Queens artists,” said Cathy Hung, JCAL’s executive director. “It aligns with JCAL’s founding vision to serve artists, especially emerging Queens artists. This program also expands our residencies program from visual art, dance, to music.”

The EtM Choreographer + Composer Residencies will provide 120 hours of free rehearsal space to four choreographer and composer teams at JCAL, and the winners will also receive a stipend. The teams will have access to three months of free rehearsal space beginning in September 2015.

Though the residencies are for teams collaborating on new work, the application process is also open to choreographers working alone. At the end of the residency, artists will perform a free public program at JCAL or the Jamaica Center for the Performing Arts.

This opportunity is a result of the Queens Workspace Initiative, a project conducted to help ensure that the performing arts offerings in Queens are thriving, according to EtM Executive Director David Johnston.

The nonprofit surveyed performing artists and cultural facilities and held focus groups to gauge the needs of performing artists in Queens and to learn if local facilities were meeting those needs.

“We discovered from the study that Jamaica had a lot of resources that weren’t really being maximized as far as space for artists,” Johnston said.

According to the report, Queens has approximately 96 nonprofit performing arts spaces compared to 274 in Brooklyn and 2,721 in Manhattan. Queens’ city-owned cultural institutions receive the lowest amount of per capita arts funding.

The report found that Jamaica is the best neighborhood in Queens to engage artists because the increased funding in public transportation improvements and underutilized residential spaces provide easy access to performing arts organizations and artists.

Applications are due July 1 and Johnston said that a panel of judges will begin to look over the applications in August. EtM has decided to give preference to Queens artists and is seeking people with a wide range of genres in dance, people with expertise in music and overall artistic merit.

According to Johnston, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation has pledged to provide multiyear funding for this program so that it can continue to exist for at least two rounds.

Applications can be found here.