2009-10-23 / Columnists

Rock Solid

Rockaway Artists Alliance — Champion Of The Arts On The Peninsula
Commentary By Vivian Rattay Carter

If you are a regular reader of The Wave, you probably believe you know everything there is to know about the Rockaway Artists Alliance. After all, RAA is a linchpin of the peninsula, with a dynamic group of members, officers and directors that has been out there for years, effectively spreading the gospel from west to east in support of artists and arts education in the community. It is a savvy group that learned, early on, how to broadly publicize their vision, and successfully fund it with money from private sponsors, government agencies and politicians. So, take out your scrap paper - here's a pop trivia quiz on RAA — "Rock Solid" group of the month. If you answer 9 of the 10 questions correctly, you are very knowledgeable about RAA and I think you deserve an honorary annual membership. Or, you and your family should enjoy frontrow seats for the RAA's upcoming Halloween fright-fest, which will occur from 6 to 9 p.m. on October 29, 30 and 31 at Fort Tilden.
1. The person who signed the original
papers forming RAA was:
(a) Harold Cornell
(b) Geoff Rawling
(c) Patrick Clark
2. The Board of Directors of RAA
(a) Annually
(b) Quarterly
(c) Monthly

3. RAA has been in existence for:
(a) 8 years
(b) 20 years
(c) 15 years
4. The RAA's first exhibitions of work
on the peninsula were displayed at:
(a) Peninsula Hospital and St. John's
(b) First Congregational Church and
the Belle Harbor Yacht Club
(c) Baxter's Hotel and the Park Place
5. RAA and its youth summer program,
camp kidsmART, were featured
in a PBS documentary broadcast in
2007. Name the program:
(a) Treasures in the Harbor
(b) Artists of the Peninsula
(c) RAA: Rockaway's Best Idea
6. In September, 2000, RAA was
involved in an imaginative and offbeat
Rockaway event that was never
repeated again. Name the event:
(a) The Viking Festival
(b) The Mermaid Parade
(c) The Paint-Out
7. The member who wrote the first edition
of the RAA column in The Wave,
titled "From the Artist's Studio," was:
(a) Steve Yaeger
(b) Arlene Cornell
(c) Susan Locke
8. Estimate the total membership of

(a) 100-200
(b) 200-350
(c) 350-500
9. Estimate how many columns have
been written about RAA's activities in
The Wave since the group was founded:

(a) 500 or more
(b) 100-300
(c) Less than 100
10. Meetings of the RAA membership
(a) Monthly
(b) Quarterly
(c) Weekly
1(c); 2(c); 3(c); 4(b); 5(a); 6(a); 7(b);
8(c); 9(a); 10(a)
Consider yourself very informed about Rockaway arts history if you knew that RAA was founded in 1994 by its first president, stained glass artist Patrick Clark, and other Rockaway artists, and that its board meets every month. Geoff Rawling, who currently guides the group as president, was a member of the original board, as well. In addition to Rawling, the present RAA officers are: Dan Guarino (vice president), Maryann McEvoy (secretary), and Janet Dever (treasurer). The directors include: Thomas Burke, John Grillo, Dennis Guiney, Martha Elliott Killian, James McKay, Adam McLoughlin, Jan Nebozenko and Renée Radenberg.

The RAA operated out of the Park Place Seaport in its first year, but the group's first exhibitions were displayed at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club and the First Congregational Church on Beach 94 Street. Alongside the Rockaway Theatre Company and the Rockaway Little League, RAA and its volunteers have labored mightily to restore a complex of buildings in Fort Tilden, dubbed

"RoCA," or Rockaway Center for the Arts, for year-round community arts and recreational use. In 2007, the PBS documentary "Treasures in the Harbor" focused in part on the great success of RAA's camp kidsmART, held each summer at the Fort Tilden complex.

The first RAA column, "From the Artist's Studio," appeared on July 2, 1994. It was written by Arlene Cornell. Initially the column appeared every two weeks. On March 24, 1998, the witty and talented Susan Hartenstein began writing the column each week. It is the place to find out about all of the great activities sponsored weekly by this energetic group of 500 members spanning the range of arts genres, from painting and sculpture to theatre, writing, dance and music. In addition to visual art exhibits and in-school and after-school programs and camps, the group hosts film and music festivals at venues around the peninsula, and a popular "open mike" performing arts show on Thursday evenings at RoCA.

The board of directors and the general membership meet monthly, and the formal annual meeting of members and election of directors is held each December at a festive holiday party.

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