Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens & Queens Council on the Arts Announces Merger for a Brighter Future

Left to right: Walter Sanchez, Frank Raffaele, and Costa Constantinides in front of the Queens Council on the Arts Building in Long Island City.

Excerpted from a Variety Boys and Girls Club press release.

On Monday March 18, 2024, the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens (VBGCQ) announced a potential merger where the Queens Council on the Arts (QCA) will become part of the Variety family.  The Queens Council on the Arts has been a beacon for the arts here in the borough of Queens providing services to the community since 1966.  This new merger will provide QCA with the resources and support necessary to continue their great work into the future.  Variety Boys and Girls Club will provide a shared CEO model along with staffing, financial and organizational support as QCA joins the Variety family of organizations.

The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens is the largest youth development organization in Western Queens, serving more than 4,000 young people every year. An anchor in the Astoria/Long Island City community since 1955, VBGCQ offers children a safe haven to learn, play, and grow into tomorrow’s leaders. The Club’s 30,000 square foot facility is open to the community seven days a week and includes an indoor swimming pool, makerspace lab, computer room, teaching kitchen, gym, auditorium, art studio, dance studio, film studio, and outdoor playground. While the Club has evolved over time to meet the changing needs of our community, its founding mission remains the same: to make a difference in the lives of young people and enable all children — especially those who need us most — to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible New Yorkers.

VBGCQ also announces the revival of the Middle School /High School to Arts School program where students in the borough of Queens will be given the opportunity to receive free mentorship and assistance in creating their high school and middle school professional portfolios. This program saves families thousands of dollars in expensive art lessons helping to give every child in Queens access to their art dreams at no cost.  There are also plans for additional programs to support artists in various artistic realms.

“We are excited to merge QCA into the Variety family providing long term support for young artists throughout Queens. Every young person who has dreams of becoming an artist deserves the resources and support they need to make those dreams a reality. The merger we have drawn up today will help them reach for the stars and become the artists of the 21st century.  QCA has been a leader in the arts world for almost sixty years and we here at VBGCQ look forward to ensuring it continues to be here for the next 100,”  said CEO of Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens Costa Constantinides.

“I am overjoyed at our merger with the Variety Boys and Girls Club.  QCA has provided transformative support for Queens artists for over half a century and this partnership with Variety will ensure that we will continue to champion the rich cultural landscape of The World’s Borough for many decades to come.  I greatly appreciate Walter and Costa having the vision to continue the amazing work started by Ms. Jeanne Dale Katz in 1966 and expanded on by countless QCA team members and leadership — most notably Hoong Yee Krakauer.” said Frank “Turtle” Raffaele, President of The Board of Trustees of Queens Council On the Arts.

“I’m so excited for all the Queens kids who will get the support they need to nurture their artistic dreams and aspirations now that QCA is becoming part of the Variety family,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “With two such important pillar organizations joining forces, our neighborhoods will become more hopeful, more joyful, and more equipped to sustain Queens’ proud legacy of fostering pathbreaking artists. Congrats to everyone who worked hard to make this happen!”

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