IAP Interview: Haowen Wang, Cecile Chong, Hali Lee, and Cate Yu
NYFA IAP Intern Allison Ganes recently attended the panel, Mapping Resources for Immigrant Artists, and had the opportunity to discuss topics from the event with a few of the panelists.
The panel was hosted by the Museum of Chinese in America and organized by the Asian American Arts Alliance. Panelists included visual artist, Cecile Chong; Hali Lee, Founder and Executive Director of Asian Women Giving Circle; Jason Tseng, Community Engagement Specialist at Fractured Atlas; and Haowen Wang, Program Manager, Grants, at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
NYFA: You gave a lot of advice for submitting grant proposals. Could you sum those up or give us the best tips from them?
HAOWEN WANG: There are lots of good practices that can be shared. But I want to point you to some documents that we share on our online professional development resources archive that LMCC created as part of our PD programs. I believe these two documents (there are many, many more) will sum up some of the technical advice for grant writing that you are looking for: Grantwriting Dos and Don’ts/Grantwriting in Six Steps.
NYFA: If any, what resources does LMCC have specifically for immigrant artists?
HW: In addition to the online resources that I provided that might be useful for your artists, you can also check out our Professional Development Programs. Also, our grant programs put a high priority in supporting artists that work in immigrant communities and often are the first grant that an artist receives.
NYFA: With your experience with the arts in NYC, do you feel there have been any notable shifts in the types of projects that are receiving grants?
HW: I think there is definitely a focus in supporting artists working in community-based contexts, as well as socially-engaged practices. It’s a big area of practices that is being re-considered and reframed. Some newer resources have appeared for artists that work in these realms; here are a few in NYC: http://laundromatproject.org, http://www.abladeofgrass.org,
NYFA: What is the best advice you can give to an immigrant artist trying to make it in NYC?
CECILE CHONG: My advice would be not to take rejection personally. Most people get that residency or that grant after multiple tries. Just keep trying! If you’re new to New York City and you’re having difficulties trying to figure out where to start (exhibitions, residencies, grants, which curators to meet), think of artists you admire and see what they have done. It’s all on their website and their CVs.
NYFA: You mentioned the need for applicants to be clear in their grant proposals to make it easier for you when translating their language to attorneys, accountants, etc. Can you give me a quote about this specifically?
HALI LEE: When writing a grant proposal, it is most important to be clear and precise. Help your readers see, hear, feel what your project will look like. Know that often, the reader has to defend your proposal to other people – maybe a board of directors, maybe a boss, maybe a colleague. You can help the reader a lot by conveying your ideas in a super straight-forward manner. Bullet points can help keep things logical and to the point. Honestly, clarity is more important here than beautifully written but hard to understand language. Consider including a 3 sentence synopsis of what you’re trying to accomplish. Keep in mind that your proposal will likely be read by multiple people who will discuss it and might have to lobby for it. You can help those readers a lot by providing a clear synopsis of what you are trying to accomplish.
NYFA also had the opportunity to talk with one of the organizers of the event, Cate Yu. Cate is the Director of Public Programs at Asian American Arts Alliance.
NYFA: What were some of the goals of this panel?
CATE YU: We wanted to give a sense of the American visual arts landscape to immigrant artists. We also wanted them to be aware of the wonderful grants and opportunities created specifically for them in New York City. Our wonderful visual arts consultant Leslie Kuo and I aimed for the conversation to be eye-opening about funding in the visual arts.
NYFA: What do you think is/are the biggest challenge(s) for immigrant artists?
CY: The biggest challenge is knowing the resources out there that are specific to an artist’s needs. And the quintessential challenge of every artist which is space.
NYFA: Can you tell me about some of the opportunities Asian American Arts Alliance offers to immigrant artists and the best way for artists to find them/apply?
CY: Every June, we offer Portfolio in Practice, which are one-on-one review sessions with program directors and curators from respected visual arts institutions and grant councils. We are planning to make our visual arts opportunities more robust this coming year. Please stay tuned by signing up for our e-newsletter which shares upcoming events at the Alliance and around the city.
This interview originally appeared in the ConEdison Immigrant Artist Program Newsletter #82. Subscribe to this free monthly e-mail for artist’s features, opportunities and events here.
Image: Andrea Louie, Mapping Resources for Immigrant Artists, Museum of Chinese in America, 2016.