Asian American Arts Alliance (A4)

29 West 38th Street, Fl 9
New York, New York 10018


Mar 25, 2024


Feb 20, 2024

The Asian American Arts Alliance (A4) is pleased to administer, with support from the New York Community Trust, the 2024 Van Lier Fellowship. This year, the fellowship will be awarded to two NYC-based Asian American theater artists – in the categories of Acting and Directing – who seek to make an impact on the Asian American community to help develop new or existing work.

A4’s mission is to ensure greater representation, equity, and opportunities for Asian American artists and cultural organizations through resource sharing, promotion, and community building. In line with these efforts, it is the aim of the A4 Van Lier Fellowship to support early-career individual Asian American artists living in New York City to develop work that will help fuel Asian American and creative discourse.

Created by the will of Sally Van Lier, the Trust carries out Edward and Sally Van Lier’s legacy of arts appreciation by supporting arts groups and training programs to provide education, training, or other support to young artists.

The Van Lier Fellowship is awarded to two early-career Asian American theater artists, one in Acting, and one in Directing, age 30 or younger at the start of the Fellowship. The fellows will receive an unrestricted cash stipend of $7,500 each and an eight-month fellowship tailored to respond to the unique needs of their practice. The fellowship includes artistic mentorship with an established or mid-career theater arts professional, leadership coaching, and a range of technical support.

A4 will administer an open application process.

Fellowship Description:

In addition to the cash stipend of $7,500, the fellow will participate in an eight-month program beginning in May 2024 and ending in December 2024. The fellowship is structured in three phases, each facilitating a different area of professional development.

Phase 1: Career Coaching
May – July 2024
The selected fellows will receive three coaching sessions from an esteemed career coach. The coaching will cover core value strengthening and goal setting/vision planning. These sessions are meant to offer personal and professional development tools for the fellows to empower themself as a leader of their vision, craft, and field.

Phase 2: Artistic Mentorship
July – September 2024
The selected fellows will receive artistic mentorship from an established or mid-career theater arts professional. The mentorship will include one-on-one meetings with the appointed mentor. The mentor will be chosen by A4 staff based on field recommendations and with input from the fellows, giving consideration to their interests and preferences.

Phase 3: A4 Public Program
October – December 2024
The selected fellows will work with A4 staff to develop and present one community workshop or public presentation in December 2024 based on their experience with the fellowship or work generated through the process.



The applicant MUST:

  • Be of Asian heritage
  • Be 30 years of age or younger at the start of the fellowship (your birthday must fall on or after May 2, 1993)
  • Not be currently enrolled as a full-time or part-time student in a degree-granting program in a field related to theater or performing arts during the fellowship period; exceptions may be made for post-graduate students in a field unrelated to theater or performing arts
  • Be a resident of New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, or Staten Island)
  • Be currently living in the US and primarily based in New York City during the fellowship period (May – December 2024)

NOTE: Current A4 staff, board members, and review panelists are not eligible. Immediate family of A4 staff, board members, and review panelists are not eligible.

Selection Criteria:

  • Artistic merit: Technical skill, clarity, imaginativeness, and uniqueness based upon body of work/chosen medium and work samples submitted.
  • Creation of new work: Description of the project to be developed or completed during the fellowship.
  • Community impact: Articulation of interest or hopes to make a significant impact on the Asian American arts community based on narrative responses in the application.
  • Potential for growth: Extent to which the fellowship will advance the applicant’s goals and career.

Application Instructions

All applications are submitted online via Jotform.

Online application:

Please select the category of artist for which you identify:

Artistic Statement:
Identify your unique artistic approach to your chosen medium. (300 words max)

Optional: Describe the influences, legacies, and/or heritages in your work. (100 words max)

Professional Growth:
Describe where you are in your professional and artistic career as a theater artist in New York City. Share key moments, accomplishments, and/or learnings in your career thus far. (300 words max)
Describe upcoming goals and how this fellowship may help you achieve those goals (300 words max)
Describe an existing or new body of work you wish to develop during the 8-month fellowship (300 words max)

Community Impact:
How do you hope to impact the Asian American artistic community through your work? (300 words max)

Fellowship Benefits:
If awarded the fellowship, how do you plan to use the unrestricted cash grant? (100 words max)

Letter of recommendation (from an educator or theater arts professional experienced with the artist’s work)

Resume and headshot

Work samples (minimum of three and up to 5 work samples) that best demonstrate your style and approach to your work and where you are now in your career

Work samples will be evaluated for artistic quality, technical skill, and ability to execute and innovate with your proposed body of work.
All text-based samples must be formatted in .pdf (max: 5 pages)
All image samples must be formatted in .jpg, .jpeg, or .png
All video samples must be provided by a link (max: 4 minutes)
Include a description of the work samples (e.g. title, date, presenting/exhibition location) and why it was chosen.

Key Dates:

February 21, 2024 – Public announcement of open call
February 29, 2024 – Virtual Information Session, 12–1:00pm ET (recording here)
March 25, 2024 – Submissions close by 11:59pm ET
March - April 2024 – Panel review period
April 30, 2024 – Notification of award
May 9, 2024 – Public announcement of fellows

Review panels are composed of a diverse group of respected professionals in the field. All are distinguished artists and arts professionals.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who were the Van Liers?
Throughout their lives, Sally Van Lier and her husband Edward were avid visitors to the City’s museums, concerts, and plays, and introduced many young people to the arts. Sally was a theatrical performer in the New York Theater in the 1920s and appeared in the original production of Showboat. To learn more, visit here.

How do you define “outstanding promise”?
The ideal applicant is an early-career theater artist who shows extraordinary clarity of thought and creativity in their artistry and may realize greater achievement with additional professional development support.

Do I have to be Asian American to apply?
Yes. The fellowship is awarded to an artist of Asian descent. Ethnic origins include Central Asian, East Asian, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, South Asian, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Middle Eastern, and Multi-regional (Mixed race).

Is the fellowship open to US citizens/permanent residents or people of all immigration statuses?
Anyone who lives in New York City and has a SSN (Social Security Number) or ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) is eligible to apply.

If I am a PhD student in an unrelated field to theater or performing arts, am I eligible to apply?
We are willing to make exceptions for post-graduate students in a field unrelated to theater or performing arts. Please email jlee@aaartsalliance.org to confirm.

How are the 2024 Van Lier Fellows selected?
The fellows will be selected through an open call and jury process. Submitted applications will be reviewed by a jury composed of theater artists and arts professionals. Current board and staff members of A4 will not participate in the review process.

Traveling out of the country in the summer for a month or so, can my application still be considered?

If you are in New York the majority of the fellowship period (May-Dec 2024), and you qualify for the other eligibility requirements, then yes, your application will be considered. We understand that folks will sometimes need to travel for shows, performances, and personal reasons.

In terms of developing new or existing work, how does acting fit into this? Since the casting process may go in different directions and as actors we do not have control over the direction and/or outcome.

You can offer a monologue or perform a scene with a scene partner that demonstrates your personal vision. We totally understand that you may not have control, you may not get the part you hoped for, and that’s one reason why we have this fellowship– to give people more opportunity to share their voice and vision. Feel free to craft your own.

Looking for a little more guidance on what the letter of recommendation should look like – what should recommenders focus on?

We’re asking for a letter from someone who knows your work. In the letter, they should share how they know your work, why they think you would benefit from this fellowship, where you are in your career, and how you’re poised for growth with this support. We want to know that you are dedicated to your craft, so if there are any examples of leadership and your work within the community, they can highlight that.

If I am graduating in May, can I apply?

If you are graduating in May, you are able to apply as long as you are not a full or part-time student during the entirety of the fellowship period.

For acting applications, outside of a monologue, would having an interest in creating work, and a sample of that work be helpful? Would you want the actor to continue in that said work through the duration of the program, or is there flexibility to explore other opportunities should they come up?

This is to support you as an actor. Actors, by definition, need to take on different roles and personas. If you have other opportunities and you want to explore those, that’s fine. The samples should really convey who you are, where you are in your career, and ideally what you would like to do can be shared through your narrative.

I’m currently an international student. After I graduate, I will transfer from an F1 Visa to OPT F1 Visa. I have a SSN because I’ve been working here in the states. Are non- U.S. citizens eligible to apply?

As long as you are living in NYC during the fellowship period (May-Dec 2024), then yes, you are eligible to apply.

I’m a student that is not currently living in NYC, but I’m planning to move in late May. I don’t have a current NYC address that I can provide. Am I eligible to apply?

Unfortunately, no, you have to be a NYC Resident, and there is a place in the application to upload proof of residency. That said, there are plenty of opportunities and programs available for artists outside of this fellowship. We encourage you to follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter. We’d love to see you at a future A4 event once you settle into the city!

If you’re applying as an actor, for the question around the body of work you want to develop (e.g. an existing play or an existing role that you would actually like to act), are you looking for applicants to describe in more detail how you would approach it with your own artistic voice?


In addition to being an actor, I’m also a playwright. If I’ve already written the first draft of a play, can the work I’m hoping to develop during the fellowship be this play? I would of course be focusing on my voice as an actor. Is this option valid?

Yes, but when you apply for the fellowship, you’ll need to be clear on which category you’re applying for, either Acting or Directing. Obviously your skill sets complement each other which you can share about in the response to the narrative questions.

In terms of work samples for the Acting category, is it better to submit videos or photos?

Videos are definitely better. Something that really conveys your skills and artistry.

Would it be OK to submit work samples of videos of roles you’ve booked even if they don’t relate to Asian American themes? Are you looking for a broad variety of what an Asian Actor can do?

The whole point of the video is to give the panelist a sense of your artistry, how you are as an actor, and what your potential is. The panelists have been there and they understand roles are not always what you want them to be. That’s one reason why we are providing you space for up to five work samples, so that you can show the breadth and depth of your work experience.

If you want to develop a short film as opposed to a live performance, as an actor?

Yes, that works.

If I’m applying as a director, would it be OK to, in addition to directing work samples, submit a writing sample?

We really want you to focus on your directing work. It is fine to include a writing work sample if it fits into your overall vision as a theater artist/director which is something you would want to highlight in your narrative responses.

I notice that it says the work should be from within the last 4 years. Does that include 2019, since we are just at the start of 2024, or does it begin in 2020? I only ask this because I graduated from undergrad in 2019 and then was sort of dropped into the pandemic shortly after, so I’m more limited in full-scale productions to draw from for samples with images.

We are willing to stretch the eligible time given the impact of the pandemic. It’s totally fine to include work samples from 2019 especially if they are best representative of your work and capabilities.

I am transitioning away from commercial work, musicals, and operas and into creating original work and pursuing projects that are very cultural centric and most closely related to my identity. For supporting materials, is it possible for me to still use my old directing credit to display my ability as a director, but also submit a play as my work sample? I want to be clear that I don’t want to do commercial theater anymore.

You should demonstrate where you are in your career and your skill level so showing past work is important. And through your narrative responses and descriptions of your work samples, you can clarify your intention.

Does past work that we highlight in our work samples and resumes need to be in NYC or from anywhere?

The work you highlight can be from anywhere; there are no geographic restrictions for past work.

In terms of work samples, is having some film samples of our acting OK to put in?

Yes! Just keep in mind each video sample must be no longer than 4 minutes.

Do you anticipate any collaboration between the Acting and Directing Fellows?

That is up to the fellows! Friendships and partnerships have formed between Fellows in the past. It’s encouraged if it feels natural, but there is no formal expectation of a collaboration.

I’m planning to apply as an Actor. I’m exploring a transition from an actor who acts primarily in others’ works to an actor who acts in my own work. I’m wondering how you would recommend I highlight previous work and the potential for growth in this new realm.

That would be demonstrated in your narrative. We’re trying to get a sense for who you are, where you are in your career, and what you hope to get out of this fellowship. Also, we encourage you to use the five work sample slots to demonstrate both your past acting in others’ works and your acting in works by you (these can be works in progress and don’t necessarily need to be finished).

For the work samples, is it OK to excerpt of dance or vocal if they are inherently theatrical and music theater-based?

Yes, I think as long as there is acting involved. Musical theater is a form of theater that we want to encourage.

As a director, am I able to submit works that are unfinished/works in progress?

No, it does not need to be a finished product. Especially if this is the project you hope to develop and complete during the fellowship, that’s great.

How open is the fellowship to artists focused on experimental theater and performance art? Are you looking for more specific traditional forms of theater.

We are open! Diana Oh was a previous Van Lier Fellow; her work is more experimental than traditional theatrical work.

What if I have more questions?
You are welcome to inquire further by contacting Jusitne Lee, Programs Director, at jlee@aaartsalliance.org.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend the virtual Information Session for 2024 Van Lier Fellowship on Thursday, February 29 from 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm ET.

A4 hopes that this workshop will not only provide applicants with the nuts and bolts of a strong Van Lier Fellowship application, but also offer enriching suggestions for other fellowship opportunities. Part info session and part workshop, this one hour session will include background and logistics of the awards process and pointers on preparing a strong application.

UPDATE: The information session has already happened; a recording can be found here.