The Inside Scoop Behind the Queer/Art/Mentorship Fellowship

Queer artists sometimes find themselves operating in an isolating working environment. We imagine this problem is less acute in larger cities, but nonetheless, this demographic lacks the depth and breadth of the professional networks you would find across other segments of the population.

And whether you're a queer artist in New York or the Deep South, the same types of challenges present themselves. How to create a sustainable career in the arts. How to build a network. How to market yourself. The list goes on.

Enter New York City's Queer/Art/Mentorship (QAM).

QAM is an organization focused on matching emerging queer artists with established mentors. The program just announced its crop of 2014-2015 fellows — three in film, two each in literary, performance, and visual arts, and one in curatorial. They will all be paired with New York artists for a year.

As the organization's press release notes, "The relationship that develops aims to support the artistic and professional practice of the Fellow, as well as to develop community-wide conversations about what it means to generate and curate queer work in New York City and America."

Applications for the 2015-2016 cycle will open in late Spring 2015, giving interested artists some time to get their applications together. But what, exactly, can they expect?

Let's start with the program itself, which is an outgrowth of the Queer/Art/Film series presented monthly at the IFC Center in downtown Manhattan. Applicants must apply with a specific project in mind. They can be in-progress and they don't need to be completed by the end of the cycle.

Applicants must be New York City-based, early-career, and self-identified gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender. Program planners, meanwhile, invite mentors to participate.

Curators use a two-step juried review to assess applicants. What exactly are curators looking for? According to QAM's site, "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."

The mentorships are overseen by program coordinators who prod and essentially manage the mentors to ensure the fellow gets the most out of the experience. For example, the coordinators recommend once-a-month meetings between mentors and fellows.

Furthermore, the ten mentorship partnerships interact with each other through three meetings throughout the year. The logic here is to encourage mentor-to-mentor interaction as well, which inevitably improves the experience.

Click here for more information around the application process.