Formerly a silent-film factory and original home to Paramount Pictures in the 1920s, Kaufman Astoria Studios on the corner of 35th Avenue and 35th Street has since been home to films and television productions like “Orange is the New Black,” “Nurse Jacki” and “Sesame Street,” which has been filmed at the location since 1992.
Including the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Queens Council on the Arts and the United Artist Kaufman Astoria Stadium 14 Movie Theater, the new district is the borough’s first official regional arts designation.
“This corner of Queens has quickly become a vibrant community of cultural venues and arts organization that have attracted some of our generation’s greatest artists,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who chairs the Council’s Cultural Affairs Committee.
As dance students practiced across the street in the second-floor windows of the Frank Sinatra School, Kaufman Astoria president Hal Rosenbluth pointed out the symbolism that the new district signifies in the neighborhood.
“There’s a creative energy that has been going on here for a long time,” Rosenbluth said. “I think today's announcement really puts it together and allows us to truly identify what it has become.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney stood alongside Rosenbluth and other key players in the new district with hope of a brighter future for the arts.
“This arts designation will help attract more arts-related projects, organizations and professionals to this dynamic community,” Maloney said.
Following a new partnership with LIC Flea and Food coming this May, the Astoria Flea and Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios is just one of the new developments to launch the district.
Also in the spirit of the new arts district, the Queens Council of the Arts announced a block party this June with a plan to provide group public art projects.
State Senator Michael Gianaris said while those who live in the neighborhood have always known about the plethora of art programming, the rest of the borough and the city can now recognize the culture of this corner of Queens.
“The arts have always been at the heart of Astoria’s cultural heritage, thanks in no small part to the presence of Kaufman Astoria Studios,” Gianaris said. “It is only right that the Kaufman Arts District will officially proclaim that our community is home to one of the great cultural centers in the world.”