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Culture

Greek and Cypriot-Americans Among Artists Awarded QCA Grants

January 12, 2018

NEW YORK – The Queens Council on the Arts (QCA) announced on Jan. 11 the 2018 Queens Arts Fund awardees. Along with four Artist Commissioning Projects and two ArtHotel Residencies, the Queens Arts Fund will distribute 136 grants in the amount of $465,000 to 56 Queens individual artists and 67 community organizations in the disciplines of visual arts, film, theatre, multi-media, literary arts, dance, and music, and to 28 Su-Casa artists who have been selected to partner with 28 senior centers across the borough. The awardees will provide community programs and arts projects that enhance the cultural vibrancy of Queens and make the arts more accessible to all. With an exceptional increase in applications for all three programs, the peer panel selection process was especially competitive this year, the QCA noted.

Among the New Works Grant recipients are Greek-American playwright Jonathan Alexandratos and Cypriot-American artist Nicolas Savvides AKA Nick Water. Both artists took the time out of their busy schedules to talk with The National Herald about receiving the grant.

Mr. Alexandratos told TNH, “I’m incredibly excited to be a recipient of a QCA New Works Grant for the 2018 year. My Greek heritage means a lot to me, and this grant will allow me to tell a fundamentally Greek story. It’s about my mother’s parents, complementing a play I wrote two years ago titled We See What Happen, about my paternal grandparents.

“My mom’s parents fled Greece as refugees when the Civil War broke out, basically smuggled into America with very few possessions. I want to use this as a starting place for my play, tentatively called Words Cannot Describe This, and blend in elements of pop culture, Ancient Greek tragedy, and humor to create an experience that both connects with the Greek American community and expands beyond it. The Greek immigrant experience is unique, but the fear, anxiety, doubt, and pride are reflected in the immigration stories of so many cultures. We need those stories now more than ever, and I’m honored to be able to tell one thanks to the QCA.”

Originally from Knoxville, TN, the playwright, essayist, and teacher is now based in New York City. Alexandratos, whose plays have been produced internationally, also told TNH, “My mother’s family is from Thessaloniki, and my father’s family is from Ithaki.”

His book, Articulating the Action Figure: Essays on the Toys and Their Messages, published in 2017, is available online. More information on Alexandratos and his work is available online at: https://newplayexchange.org/users/3845/jonathan-alexandratos and follow him on Twitter @jalexan.

Mr. Savvides, whose father is from Limassol, Cyprus, said, “It is an absolute honor to receive my first grant as an individual artist. I’ve always wanted to build an art career geared towards telling the story of Queens and what it’s like growing up in Queens and this grant allows me to connect with my community officially for the first time and provides a sense of value to my ideas and vision.”

When asked what inspires him, Savvides said, “The city, the urban landscape, my upbringing in Queens, the challenges facing low income and working class people across the city and New York’s underground hip hop community.”

He is currently working on “Lots of music. A short film depicting the arts culture growing in Queens (which is what I won this grant for) and as an architect, designing and managing the transformation of empty lots into cultural/arts spaces using fabricated shipping containers!”

More information on Savvides work is available online at: www.artseastny.org/renewlots and his website: www.nicolas-savvides.com.

The awardees will be honored this year at the Paper Factory Hotel, 37-06 36th Street in Long Island City, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 6-8 PM.

The Queens Arts Fund provides funding for projects throughout the borough in a wide range of disciplines, enabling residents and visitors alike to experience high quality art all year long. The Queens Arts Fund is committed to supporting emerging artist from diverse cultural backgrounds, working within all disciplines to create work that provide open and equal access for audiences in communities of Queens to further racial and cultural equity. Su-Casa is a community arts engagement program that places artists-in-residence at senior centers across the five boroughs of New York City. More information is available online at: www.queenscouncilarts.org.

The Queens Council on the Arts is the borough-wide arts council of Queens. The mission of Queens Council on the Arts is to foster, and develop the arts in Queens County and to support individual artists and arts organizations in presenting their cultural diversity for the benefit of the community.

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