Doctor’s Hours para Artistas en Español, Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, 2016. Mural – The Pollen Catchers’ Color Mixing Machine by Saya Woolfalk (Fellow in Digital/Electronic Arts ’14, Cross-Disciplinary ’07). Photo: Rosario Calatayud Serna
For 10 years, the New York Foundation for the Arts has been providing a wide array of resources for immigrant artists living and working in New York City, including mentoring programs, consultation sessions, an online directory of awards and grants, and a monthly newsletter featuring topics of interest to the community.
Although their offerings have benefited thousands of artists over the years, the administrators at NYFA realized that that there were still a significant number of immigrant artists who were unable to make use of its services: “We heard time and again that there was a segment of this community we were not reaching, specifically those artists not comfortable using English as their primary means of communication,” says Felicity Hogan, NYFA’s director of learning.
In order to broaden its reach, NYFA began offering its signature Doctor’s Hours consultation program in languages other than English last year. The program pairs artists with curators and other industry professionals in the arts for a one-on-one consultation session, allowing artists to receive practical and professional advice on their portfolios and careers. With a grant from New York City’s Cultural Immigrant Initiative, the first multilingual sessions were hosted in Mandarin and Spanish, and another session earlier this year was conducted in French, Italian, Mandarin, and Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian, all free of charge.
“Expanding the Doctor’s Hours session to other languages, in addition to being able to offer it free, thus removing barriers around affordability, allows artists to have an ease of interaction in their language of origin or cultural background,” says Felicity. “They’re able to access expertise without fear of the mistranslations or misunderstandings that may occur when English may be a second or third language.”
With the support of a grant from the Vilcek Foundation, NYFA will be hosting two additional Spanish-language Doctor’s Hours sessions, the first taking place next week in Dumbo, Brooklyn, on December 7. This session will be tailored for visual artists, including multidisciplinary and socially engaged artists, and will feature leaders in the Spanish-speaking arts community from renowned institutions such as El Museo del Barrio, ArtNexus, and Fundación Cisneros, Queens Museum, and No Longer Empty.
Interested artists can register for a 30-minute session via NYFA’s website; this session will also be offered free of charge. A second Spanish-language session will be hosted on March 20, in the Bronx, at Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education. Sign up on NYFA’s website to receive details.