Chicago Queer Arts Mentorship Program

Chicago Queer Arts Mentorship Program

Institutional Incubation

See the press release announcing the launch of the Chicago Queer Arts Mentorship Program >

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 models itself 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 artists 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.



ALEXA GRÆ’s work is a combination of artistic disciplines informed by specialized academic training in music composition and opera. Rigorous training as an opera student challenged them to transcend the boundaries of various art forms and to understand cultural boundaries of art in the everyday world. They bridge these chasms by focusing on how art informs identities, socialization habits, self-expression, and the ability to create, creating genre-defying performances that incorporate multiple dance styles, theatrical personas, and experimental storytelling styles.




Mentorship Project

MOON.STONE, a multidisciplinary movement song cycle including portions of contemporary opera, solo/ensemble dance, and R&B music with text from the composer’s Mother. MOON.STONE is an experience of identity. The moonstone holds magic and light within it, that appears ever trapped inside the smooth, glassy surface. What happens when a moonstone is cracked open? Does the light flood out?

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Steven Abrams has been a driving force of Chicago’s diverse cultural landscape for the past three decades with a celebrated career spanning nightclub and restaurant scenes of the 90’s through executive leadership positions at Steppenwolf Theatre and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park, Abrams currently serves as Interim Managing Director at Chicago Children’s Theatre and was recently named the first Guest Artistic Director at Navy Pier, leading newly formed arts & discovery programming. He is principal at The Abrams Group, LLC, an innovative arts management and production company and partner at TADA Theatricals, LLC, a commercial theatrical producing entity, both based in Chicago.


Joseph Varisco, Program Director

Joseph VariscoCQAMP was founded by JRV MAJESTY Production’s Creative Director Joseph Varisco. Joseph Varisco performs independent production and development support to underrepresented, HIV+, and queer populations as the founder of JRV MAJESTY Productions, Director of Development at The Inconvenience, co-curator at Salonathon, and Resident Curator for Poonie’s Cabaret at Links Hall. Varisco is the creator of the annual performance series QUEER, ILL, & OKAY (QIO), a recipient of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Visual AIDS. JRV MAJESTY Productions works QIO and POST-Q were listed in NewCity Chicago’s Top 5 Queer/Trans Performances. Most recently Varisco was a featured artist at Chicago History Museum’s OUT in Chicago series. Learn more at