By HENRY AKUBUIRO

The Nigerian poet, Uche Nduka, is one of the recipients of the highly competitive New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, now in its thirty-first year. The organisation has awarded a total of $ 644,000 to 95 artists (including three collaborations), whose ages range from 25-84 years throughout New York State in the following disciplines: Crafts/Sculpture, Digital/Electronic Arts, Nonfiction Literature, Poetry, and Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts.

Fifteen finalists, who do not receive a cash award, but benefit from a range of other NYFA services, were also announced. The NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Programme makes unrestricted cash grants of $ 7,000 to artists working in 15 disciplines, awarding five per year on a triennial basis. This year’s recipients and finalists were selected by discipline-specific peer panels from an applicant pool of 2,744. Since it was launched in 1985, the programme has awarded over $ 31 million to more than 4,400 artists.

“Being an artist is hard work, and a struggle for many; a recent report by New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs found that 40% of the artists surveyed cannot afford art supplies and tools,” said Michael L. Royce, Executive Director, NYFA. “This sobering figure is one of the reasons why we are proud to support artists across New York State with unrestricted grants. For 31 years, artists of all disciplines have put the money towards anything that helps make their lives and practice easier, including buying the supplies and time they need to make their art and push their careers forward,” he added.

New York State Council on the Arts Chair, Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, said: “The NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship programme supports New York State’s creative communities, and NYSCA is proud of our leadership role in this nearly 32-year collaboration with NYFA. Since 1985, NYSCA has provided $ 31 million in funding for this critical programme. Each individual grant helps the recipient more freely engage in imaginative work, and expand the boundaries of creative media. It is gratifying to know that this programme has made a real difference in the daily lives of thousands of artists, throughout New York State.”

Richard Barlow of Oneonta, New York, was awarded a Fellowship in Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts. He expressed that “the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship is an incredible validation of my work as a visual artist. As a relative newcomer to New York State, it also feels like an acknowledgement that I have established a successful art practice and presence in my new home.” He added that the money will “offset many of the costs of maintaining an active artistic practice: travel, shipping, residencies, materials, promotion, fabrication, etc., and, in doing so, will alleviate financial pressures and open some mental breathing room to allow for more creative work.”

Neda Toloui-Semnani, a Fellow in Nonfiction Literature from Brooklyn, New York, shared the following about her fellowship: “The NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship has given me, a nonfiction writer, the luxury of resource. It has given me both peace of mind and a great deal of joy because I get to see through the final reporting and writing of my first book without compromising. It’s an extraordinary gift.”

Major funding is also provided by the New York State Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), while funding is provided by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, the Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, and individual donours.  Below is an abridged list of the recipients (with discipline and location):

Poetry

Desiree C. Bailey (Queens)

Jennifer Bartlett (Kings)

Wo Chan (Kings)

Alan Davies (New York)

Joey De Jesus (Queens)

Betsy Fagin (Kings)

Jameson Fitzpatrick (Kings)

Harmony Holiday (New York)

Jake Matkov (Kings)

Uche Nduka (Kings)

Allyson Paty (Kings)

Tommy Pico (Kings)

Jayson Smith (Kings)

Ann Stephenson (New York)

Bridget Talone (Queens)

Michelle Whittaker (Suffolk)

Samantha Zighelboim (New York)

Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts

Richard Barlow (Otsego)

Alex Barry (New York)

Natalie Beall (Dutchess)

Thalia Chantziara (New York)

Amanda Church (New York)

Amy Cutler (Kings)

Terry Conrad (Saratoga)

Donna Diamond (Bronx)

Mark Dion (New York)

Mark Ferguson (Kings)

Johanna Goodman (Rockland)

Ellen Grossman (New York)

Takuji Hamanaka (Kings)

Amir Hariri (Queens)

Carla Rae Johnson (Westchester)

Cotter Luppi (Columbia)

Kymia Nawabi (Kings)

Susan Rostow (New York)

Jennifer Schmidt (Kings)

Charlotte Schulz (Westchester)

Sean Sullivan (Ulster)

Dannielle Tegeder (New York)

Scott Teplin (Kings)

The New York Foundation for the Arts was founded in 1971 to empower artists at critical stages in their creative lives. Each year, $ 650,000 is awarded in cash grants to individual artists in all artistic disciplines. Similarly, the New York State Council on the Arts champions community and creativity by preserving and advancing numerous aspects of the cultural heritage that makes New York State an exceptional place to live, work and visit.

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