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Artists' Fellowships — FAQ

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What is a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship?

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships, awarded in fifteen different disciplines over a three-year period, are $7,000 cash awards made to individual originating artists living and working in the state of New York and or Indian Nations located therein for unrestricted use. NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships are not project grants but are intended to fund an artist's vision or voice, regardless of the level of his or her artistic development.

How are NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellows selected?

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships are chosen based on the single criterion of work that demonstrates a compelling vision as defined by the assembled panel's collective opinion. Materials are reviewed and voted on by the panelists in elimination rounds which produce a smaller pool for each round. An artist's advancement is a product of the collective vote of the panel. A single panelist cannot ensure an applicant's success or failure. Panel selections are reviewed by the Artists' Advisory Committee and by NYFA's Board of Trustees. Neither the Committee nor the Board reviews the work of applicants or makes any aesthetic judgments. Panelists' names are kept confidential until the awards are announced.

NYFA is committed to supporting New York State artists of diverse cultural, sexual, and ethnic backgrounds. NYFA does not discriminate based on the age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or ability/disability of artists, and welcomes work whose content reflects the lived experiences of the applicants.

How are panels assembled?

Recommendations for potential panelists come from many sources including: the Artists' Advisory Committee, arts and cultural organizations around New York State and Indian Nations located in New York State, and suggestions from practicing artists. All potential panelists must be practicing artists in the discipline they review and must receive three recommendations from their field. The Artists' Advisory Committee then approves final choices that reflect considerations of genre, age, ethnicity, and geography within New York State and Indian Nations located therein. Applicants may participate in this process by suggesting themselves or others as panel candidates on the application. NOTE: Panelists change each year.

How is work reviewed?

Application reviews happen over 3 to 4 rounds, depending on the discipline. In rounds 1 and 2, panelists only review work sample materials. In rounds 3 and 4, panelists review work samples alongside statements. All time-based and literary applications are pre-reviewed by the panel off-site before assembling at NYFA for the later rounds. All other disciplines are reviewed on-site. In visual arts categories, an artist's digital images are viewed one at a time, in the order uploaded by the applicant. The moderator reads aloud the title, date, materials, and dimensions of the first and sixth images. Work samples are projected using a high-quality projector within the review room while simultaneously viewed on panelists’ individual laptops. Panelists have access to view the images and caption information on their laptop screens. In categories accepting video samples as the main sample, panelists review work sample excerpts on-site, up to a total of 4 minutes. In literary categories, manuscripts are reviewed by five readers across the state before assembling at NYFA for the final decision. NOTE: Applicant’s names are anonymous until the later rounds of peer-panel assessment.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for applying?

Applicants must be at least 25 years old at the time of the application deadline, January 24, 2018, and must also be a resident of New York State and/or one of the Indian Nations located in New York State for at least two years prior to the deadline.

Applicants cannot be matriculated in a graduate or undergraduate degree program regardless of their field of study.

Fellowships are not awarded to interpretative artists such as dancers or actors; applicants must be the originators of the work, i.e. choreographers or playwrights.

Recipients of a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in the past 5 years are ineligible as well as NYFA employees, members of the NYFA Board of Trustees or Artists Advisory Committee, or immediate family members of any of the above or of a 2017-2018 panelist. Artists that have been awarded five NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships receive Emeritus Status and are no longer eligible to apply.


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How do I choose the appropriate category in which to apply?

Ultimately, this decision starts and ends with the applicant: no applications will be disqualified - all applications are seen in the panel review process. However, each individual panel has the ability to choose not to advance applicants to further rounds if they deem the work noncompetitive in the category. Review the guidelines carefully; if you have further questions at that point, please contact us for advice.

How should I choose which of my work to submit?

Choose work to show the panel that represents your vision as an artist and work that you have done in the last five years. Panelists are looking to fund an artist's voice or vision, they prefer a strong stylistic presence, voice, or theme. This can be achieved by showing the panel the depth rather than breadth of your work and by showing a sample of something that you do well. When making your work sample selection, narrow it down to focus on one or two bodies of work that relate in some comprehensive way. The job of the work sample is to get you from the first round to the next, the panelists need to understand your work enough to peak their interest and vote for you to advance to the next round.

Can I send published work?

Yes, you may send published work. However, do not include publication and/or production information anywhere on your manuscript in order to preserve the anonymity of your application. You may also have work published in the interim while we review applications. There is no restriction on published or unpublished work. In addition, applying with work samples does not put your materials in the public domain. Panelists are asked to review work samples independent of the artist’s career point, therefore the status of your work's publication has no bearing on whether you receive a fellowship or not.

If I work with another artist, how do I apply?

Collaborating artists should apply together. A collaboration is defined as up to three artists who can clearly demonstrate an ongoing collaborative career. Collaborators only need to establish one online account, wherein each artist will provide his/her biographical information. However, only one set of statements and work sample(s) is required for the collective application. Should a collaborative application receive an award, the grant will be divided evenly between the collaborating artists. All individual applicants must clearly state their roles and must meet eligibility requirements.

Can I apply in more than one category?

You may apply in up to two different categories per year, but you may only receive funding in one. To do so, open one account online then create an application for each category. You should submit separate support materials for each category however, you may use the same work samples for both applications if you choose. Indicate the other category in which you are applying on each application.

Can I apply if I am taking a class in an unrelated subject towards a degree, or am a student in a degree-granting program that is unrelated to my application?

No. Regardless of your field of study, no matriculated students are allowed to apply for a fellowship.

When are the fellowships announced?

All applicants will be notified of final decisions in late Summer of 2018 through the email applied with. The names of all Fellows and the panelists who selected them will then be listed online at www.nyfa.org.

Can I receive feedback about my application?

Due to the large number of applicants and time constraints, we regret not being able to give one-on-one feedback about application material. 

Each set of discipline guidelines includes a checklist to help guide the applicant on how to avoid common mistakes when applying.

If I receive an award, what must I do?

Fellowship Awardees must first verify their New York State residency or residency on an Indian Nation within New York State. Once a recipient has received notification of their award, they are required to submit documentation verifying their residency for the years 2016, 2017, and 2018. Acceptable documents include tax forms, phone bills, utility bills, bank statements, etc. Each Fellow must submit a final report on the fellowship year. Most recent tax laws state that Fellowships are taxable income; therefore, you should consult your tax advisor. Please email fellowships@nyfa.org with any questions.

I haven't received notification about the status of my application. When should I contact NYFA?

All fellowship applicants will be notified via email in Summer 2018 whether or not they have received fellowships. If you have not received a notification by the late fall, please contact us.

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships are administered with leadership support from New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.