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The Chicago Queer Arts Mentorship Program (CQAMP) supports Chicago queer arts and artists by partnering emerging artists with established industry professionals through year-long mentorships focused on project or career specific goals. CQAMP fosters artistic partnerships, invests in queer cultural heritage, supports healthy professional practices, and is modeled after similar mentorship programs in New York (Queer Arts Mentorship), San Francisco (Queer Cultural Center), and New Orleans (Queer Youth Theater).


Under the guidance of Program Director/Creator Joe Varisco (JRV MAJESTY Productions), the program aims to help mentees develop both a well-rounded understanding of the creative process and the knowledge of how to sustain one, such as budget planning and strategic funding options. Each partnership is provided with organizational support, resources, development strategies, community partnerships, venues for presenting and discussing work with the public and peers, and a partnership stipend. The aim of the partnership is not necessarily to complete the goal or project, but to elevate the professional skills and engagement of the emerging artists’ works.


By establishing a heritage that honors the distinct needs and resources of queer communities, CQAMP helps to provide a more sustainable career trajectory for emerging artists while cultivating a richer cultural discourse. Support through High Concept Labs’ Institutional Incubation Program provides CQAMP with financial support, administrative and programming assistance, as well as exhibition, performance and rehearsal space.


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