Announcing | Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program Expansion

Announcing | Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program Expansion

NYFA receives Ford Foundation grant to bring the program to Detroit, MI; Newark, NJ; Oakland, CA; and San Antonio, TX

The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) has received a 2-year grant from Ford Foundation to support the expansion of its Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program to Detroit, MI; Newark, NJ; Oakland, CA; and San Antonio, TX. The program will connect 144 immigrant artists with mentors and strengthen immigrant artist communities in those four cities, using NYFA’s Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program in New York, NY as an impactful model for replication. NYFA, a national arts organization with a myriad of online resources for artists, will work in partnership with established arts organizations in each partner city to implement the program and tailor it to the needs of each individual community. Deutsche Bank has funded the New York program since it began in 2007. 

NYFA’s Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program is the only known program of its kind in the United States, and has provided close to 200 NYC-based immigrants with mentorship, community, and exposure for their work. The New York program includes sessions in Visual/Multidisciplinary Art, Performing and Literary Arts, and Social Practice; the expanded program will be open to Multidisciplinary artists. The Newark program is accepting applications from now until October 30, 2017, with a start date of December 9, 2017. New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) will be the lead partner organization, providing guidance on the nuances of the Newark arts landscape; arts expertise; and access to mentors, mentees, physical space, and artist opportunities. Paul Robeson Galleries, Express Newark; Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art; and City Without Walls will be secondary partners, with Newark Arts Education Roundtable (NAER) confirmed as a contributor. NYFA is having conversations with potential partners in Detroit, Oakland, and San Antonio, with program dates to be announced.

When Michael L. Royce, Executive Director, first came to NYFA, he envisioned a program that would address the challenges that immigrant artists faced in New York City. On the program’s expansion, he said: “We are thrilled at the community and professional successes that the program has brought to these artists in the last 10 years, and look forward to expanding to serve immigrant artists in Detroit, Newark, Oakland, and San Antonio. Many of these immigrants are already contributing to the cultural landscapes in their cities, and we aspire to work with them through a formalized, professional-guided mentoring program that produces catalytic results for their communities.”


NYFA’s Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program pairs immigrant artists working in all disciplines with artist mentors who provide one-on-one support for their mentee, guiding them to achieve specific goals and providing them with broader access to their city’s cultural world through an exchange of ideas, resources, and experiences. The program aims to foster a community by providing opportunities to connect with other immigrant artists through group meetings, peer learning, and informal gatherings. Through access to other artists, arts professionals, and organizations, the program offers immigrant artists the opportunity to focus on their creative practice and gain support and exposure for their work while upholding their distinct cultural identities. It is a competitive program that is provided free of charge to accepted participants.

“At a time of crisis and uncertainty for immigrant families and children, artists can be powerful leaders for social change,” said Margaret Morton, Program Officer, Creativity and Free Expression at Ford Foundation. “The Ford Foundation is proud to support the expansion of the Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program to embrace artists and amplify their voices,” she added.

New York mentors include past alumni of the program whose experience through previous participation in the program will inform their interaction and commitment to their mentee. Many of the mentors are immigrant artists themselves, and understand the challenges of sustaining one’s art practice while navigating different cultural perspectives in the art world.

“NYFA’s Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program and the community it has fostered has been an invaluable resource for my formation as an immigrant artist in New York City,” said Zelene Pineda Suchilt (Rebelene), an immigrant artist from Mexico who was a mentee in 2012 and mentor in 2014, 2015, and 2016. “As a mentee, I was encouraged to strengthen my commitment to my practice and development as a poet. Participating as a mentor has given me the opportunity to transform my experiences of success and failure as a working artist into lessons of guidance and confirmation to other immigrant artists navigating the art world,” she added.

Click here for more information about the Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program. And don’t forget to sign up for the monthly Con Edison IAP Newsletter to receive opportunities and events as well as artist features directly to your inbox.

Images: Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program, June 2016, Photo Credit: Judy Cai for NYFA; Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program: Performing and Literary Arts, June 2017, Photo Credit: NYFA

Amy Aronoff
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