2000-07-01 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance

By Susan Hartenstein

This is it. This is the weekend. RAA knows how to throw a party and this is the biggest, best one of RAA’s year. But more importantly, this Saturday’s building fund benefit has the ultimate goal of improving the lives of the people who live in Rockaway and the Rockaway area. Establishing an arts center in Fort Tilden is a vital part of the future of our community. It is not a pipe dream. It is within our grasp. It is achievable. It will bring enjoyment, activities and education to our citizens, young and old. It will attract tourist and investment dollars to our community, just as it has in other places. Public officials like Governor Pataki know this fact and support this concept of "cultural tourism."

We have the proof of what can happen. Approximately a thousand people came to RAA’s "Movies by Moonlight" weekend, with crowds also being drawn those nights to RAA’s new gallery exhibition at "sTudio-6." Rockaway Theatre Company attracted large numbers those nights as well. People from far outside Rockaway were drawn to these multi-cultural evenings at Fort Tilden.

An arts center located in an exquisite, open setting gives tourists something to come to Rockaway for. It gives other artists a reason to come here. It gives people a reason to live in Rockaway. People coming here willing to spend their money means business will want to invest here.

Our children should not have to go to Brooklyn or beyond to take art classes or movement classes or music classes. Nor should our children’s parents or grandparents. Our children should not have idle time on their hands with no constructive activities in their own neighborhood. We should not have to "schlep" to Manhattan and pay Manhattan prices to see a play or an art exhibit.

The building fund benefit will bring in vital money, which RAA will use wisely and well, as it has in the renovation of T-6 (sTudio-6). July will see a pilot program of children’s classes by RAA, run in T-6. But the grant money we receive for education programs, both summer and during the year, cannot be used for capital funding essential to renovate structures. It cannot be used to supply or improve studio space. It cannot be used to help individual artists. It cannot be used for anything but education. That money goes immediately back into educating and enriching our schoolchildren. The money from the benefit will be used for capital funding. It is vital and we are most grateful for it. But it is only the beginning. To properly serve the huge numbers of people, both in and outside Rockaway, waiting to use an arts center, the larger building T-7 must be renovated and equipped.

Please help us help you. We appeal to all who love this community and who love the arts and the artists who enrich and inspire a community. RAA needs funding—corporate, private or public. If you know of sources, if you are a corporation or business or know of one desiring to help the arts and this community then call us, write us (260 Beach 116 street), e-mail us (rockart116@aol.com) or sail us a note in a bottle. We are talking about the future of our community.

Speaking of the Rockaway Theatre Company (yes we were a while back), this is the last weekend to enjoy "Rumors" at the Post Theater. Please see it. It is riotous fun that will release the most exquisite endorphins in your body. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

RAA's Children’s Show 2000 is beautiful, charming and delightful. As in previous years, on exhibit at Citibank on 113 street and Beach Channel drive, is the best and brightest of the art produced by the kids in RAA’s education programs this year. Make yourself happy and see it.

This is also the last weekend to see RAA’s member art exhibition at sTudio-6 in Fort Tilden. Some of the finest art produced in this area is on view. The exhibit has impressed all who have seen it. Friday’s hours are 7-10 p.m. Saturday, come to T-149 and we’ll take you over there.

July 8 and 9 there will be an art exhibit and sale at Christ Community Church in Breezy Point. Hours are Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Queens Museum of Art is holding its next "First Thursday" on July 6 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. At this free open house gala, music from Latin America will include a performance by "La SuperBanda." Dance to salsa while overlooking the unisphere. Also see the exhibition "Art at Work: Forty Years of the Chase Manhattan Collection."

RAA member Aaron Finkelstein died earlier this month. Aaron was a fine photographer who never stopped growing and exploring. He was always generous in sharing his ideas and his knowledge. He will be missed.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July. Enjoy.

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