2000-09-23 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio Rockaway Artists Alliance

By Susan Hartenstein

From The Artists Studio
Rockaway Artists Alliance

Attention RAA artists! Those wishing to exhibit work in our Queens Millennium Festival, who are not exhibiting in building T-7, bring up to four small to medium sized pieces to building T-6 on September 27 between 6 and 9 p.m. The work must be properly framed with a wire across the back for hanging. Supply a list of titles and prices. No hanging donation or percentage of sales will be required.

On September 11 the First Annual Queens Cultural Forum was held at the Queens Museum of Art. Organized by the Queens Council on the Arts, this conference for arts groups of this borough was designed to discuss key issues facing the Queens cultural community. Attending the conference were leaders from the worlds of politics, business and the arts. Borough President Claire Shulman delivered the keynote address. Other speakers included Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, executive director of Queens Council on the Arts; Laurene Buckley, executive director of the Queens Museum of Art; Joan Barnes, the new president of the board of directors of the museum and owner of London Lennie’s Restaurant; Wingson Wong of Chase Manhattan Bank; Schuyler Chapin, commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; Nicolette B. Clark, executive director of the New York State Council on the Arts; and William B Martin, director of community affairs for Verizon Communications Corporation. Representing the Rockaway Artists Alliance were Geoff Rawling, Chris Jorge, and Liz Sulik, president-elect of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce and new QCA board member, was also in attendance.

The make-up of the conference reflected the major theme emerging from it. The arts are good for the economic, social and intellectual health of a community. Next to Wall Street, arts and culture generated more money in this city last year than any other entity – $11.1 billion. To achieve the goal of a healthy community (whether a neighborhood, borough, city or nation) partnerships must be established among the arts, business and politics. Each is good for the other and all are good for the whole. Further, since arts are so essential to this health, it is imperative that politicians are made aware that it is in their self-interest to give voters the cultural structures they want and need in their communities. Government executives and legislators must be made aware that supporting the arts financially and morally will help get them elected. Business leaders must understand that investing in the arts will bring them profits.

Commissioner Chapin discussed a blueprint being prepared by his office for just such a purpose. The strength of this city, he emphasized, lies in its cultural life. Borough President Shulman, who has done much to support the arts, said that people come to this country for a better life while desiring to celebrate their roots. She and Chapin praised such Queens institutions as QMA and Queens Theater in the Park for providing the diverse population of this borough with what to some is familiar and to others, new and interesting. At the same time, visitors from outside Queens are attracted to these quality events. Both Bill Martin and Wingson Wong discussed the nature of the support their companies were providing the arts and how this serves the public. Individual workshops discussed and made recommendations for developing dynamic new ways to build effective partnerships; to improve board and staff leadership and to use technology to assist the individual artist and arts organizations in achieving their goals.

In July of next year a national "Participate 2000 Conference" will be held in New York City by Americans for the Arts and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. The conference will bring 1500 leaders of arts and culture from all over the country to this city to discuss how arts and culture may be brought into the primary consciousness of this country, including that of government and business.

Speaking of cultural tourism, congratulations to all responsible for the new Riis Landing. These include superintendent of the Jamaica Bay Unit, Billy Garrett; General Superintendent Marc Koenings; former General Superintendent Kevin Buckley; and Congressman Anthony Weiner. Superintendent Koenings called this a "new day dawning." Indeed, as all who spoke at the opening emphasized, a ferry will make Rockaway’s attractions accessible to many. A Fort Tilden arts complex, it was pointed out, is one of those attractions. Koenings also looks forward to a Gateway park that provides educational and environmental stewardship to an expanded public. As Congressman Weiner stated, shopkeepers will open shops knowing people can get to those shops. Sea Streak America provided the comfortable and enjoyable demonstration cruise. Let us hope that they or some company like them will provide an essential link in Rockaway’s arts-business-government partnerships.

September and October will offer much for the public to see in Rockaway. This weekend marks the RMAC arts and crafts festival. Included in that is a fence show presented jointly with RAA in front of the bathhouse. RAA’s Geoff Rawling will lead children in a fun mural project near the fence. Look, too, for RAA’s information table near this site. RAA’s Millennnium Festival begins Saturday, September 30 with a Labyrinth opening at 12 noon. The next festival event is Sunday, October 1 -- our sTudio-6 exhibition opening. The reception is 1 p.m. in building T-6 (sTudio-6), Fort Tilden. Throughout October art from Rockaway and other areas of Queens will be displayed in Fort Tilden as part of RAA’s Millennium Festival.

RAA is bringing Rockaway to the center of Queens – an RAA exhibition is now up in the Queens Center Mall. This is the largest mall in the borough and soon to be the largest in the city.

Watch this column for more detailed information regarding our schedule of October Millennium arts events. Be sure to come and enjoy.

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