Building a Community: A Funder Expands Support for LGBTQ Artists

 photo: oksanka007/shutterstock

photo: oksanka007/shutterstock

Last month, half a year after Queer|Art, a New York–based nonprofit, established the Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant, it announced its inaugural winner: Fair Brane, a filmmaker and painter based in Los Angeles. 

The annual $5,000 award recognizes "self-identified lesbians making visionary moving-image art." Brane’s winning short essay film, "Drink More Water," will examine the intersection of race, power, and social relations.

Queer|Art launched in 2009 to support a generation of LGBTQ artists that lost mentors to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s by providing an "organizational apparatus that both builds the LGBTQ arts community and develops LGBTQ artists' work and careers."

Its institutional partners include the IFC Center, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, and Visual AIDS. Prominent donors include HBO, the Los Angeles-based production company K Period Media, and the recently profiled Calamus Foundation DE

The Hammer grant was named in honor of the experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer. Funding comes from Hammer’s estate and is administered through Queer|Art’s rotating panel of judges.

The grant is one of the two main pillars of the Queer|Art|Awards, an initiative launched in July comprised of grants, prizes, and residencies to provide grants and prizes to LGBTQ artists and projects that "support LGBTQ culture." 

The other program, Queer|Art|Prize, presents two HBO-funded $10,000 awards to LGBTQ artists based in the United States: one for Sustained Achievement and the other for Recent Work. In November, Queer|Art announced the two winners, photographer Catherine Opie and filmmaker Reina Gossett. 

Over time, Queer|Art says the awards will grow to include a "spectrum of support—monetary and otherwise—for LGBTQ artists." 

"Queer|Art was born out of the recognition of a generation of both artists and audiences that were lost to the AIDS Crisis, and in a profound understanding that one of the many repercussions of that loss was a lack of mentors and role models for a new generation of queer artists," founder and filmmaker Ira Sachs said at the Queer|Art|Prize announcement ceremony.

 "We are here to encourage, support, and empower a wide and growing number of artists from all backgrounds to value their own lives and their own unique, queer, creativity."