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Flushing Town Hall celebrates 160th anniversary

Flushing Town Hall celebrated the 160th anniversary of its historic facility on Northern Boulevard. To commemorate the occasion, Flushing Town Hall held its “Happy Birthday Gala” on June 9th honoring New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and CUNY Queens College President Frank H. Wu.

More than 125 people were in attendance for the historic event, which helped raise funds to support the landmarked building’s operations. The evening was filled with music, performances, networking, and an awards dinner in the renowned institution’s grand theater.

Howard Gilman Foundation Program Officer Emily Sproch (Photos By Dominick Totino)

While the Town Hall limited attendance this year, out of an abundance of caution due to the pandemic, it happily held its first in-person event since 2019.

“In spite of everything, culture never closed, and the arts are essential,” Flushing Town Hall Executive and Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek said. “It’s very simple actually, that’s what you can count on us for here at Flushing Town Hall.”

In attendance were Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, New York City Councilwoman Sandra Ung, New York State Sentator John Liu, Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson, and a representative for Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.

When attendees arrived, they were greeted by The Hellfighters—an ensemble created by Black, Harlem-based artists-educator Elijah J. Thomas—before enjoying performances by the New York Chinese Chours, and a “Global Mashup” featuring seven of New York’s finest musicians including Abdulaye Diop, Alioune Fayé, Frank London, Meg Okura, Arcoiris Sandoval, Cillian Vallely, and Jennifer Vincent, who were representing regions from all over the world, including Senegal, Mexico, and Asia.

The Gala was co-chaired by Flushing Town Hall Board Members Pauline Huang and Timothy Chen. Sponsors included Veronica Y. Tsang, Queens College, City University of New York, Raymond Jasen, Graf & Lewent Architects, Tai Wang/WAC Lighting/Glow Cultural Center/Glow Foundation, Viviana Benitez, TeHsing Niu, Emily Lin/Lin + Loveall Foundation, and New York-Presbyterian Queens.

During the event, Flushing Town Hall honored New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, the first Black woman to hold the position and proud representative of the 28th District in Queens. Robbie Welsh, co-director of the community outreach unit / community engagement division of the New York City Council Speaker’s Office, represented Adams, who was unable to attend due to budget negotiations.

Co-Director of the Community Outreach Unit/Community Engagement Division of the New York City Council Speaker’s Office Robbie Welsh

“Your stewardship of this historic institution has made Flushing Town Hall a welcome destination for residents of all ages to watch concerts, dance, theater, and much more,” Welsh said.

The second honoree, Queens College President Frank H. Wu, praised Flushing Town Hall for being a beacon of culture in the borough. “Through concerts and jam sessions,” he said, “Flushing Town Hall has helped to establish this borough as a home for jazz. That is the United States’ musical gift to the world: American classical music.”

During the evening, Howard Gilman Foundation Program Officer Emily Sproch called Flushing Town Hall “a very bright spot in this City’s cultural ecosystem,” announcing that the foundation made a $160,000 gift to Flushing Town Hall.

“One thousand dollars for each year of its impressive life,” Sproch said. “So happy birthday Flushing Town Hall, may you continue to be blessed, and may you continue to share these blessings with this remarkable community.”

Flushing Town Hall is a Smithsonian affiliate, which presents multi-disciplinary global arts that engage and educate the global communities of Queens and New York City in order to foster mutual appreciation. As advocates of arts equity since 1979, Flushing Town Hall supports local, immigrant, national, and international artists, developing partnerships, and collaborations that enhance its efforts. Part of the New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group, it serves to restore, manage and program the historic 1862 landmark on behalf of the City of New York. Flushing Town Hall iscommitted to arts education and hands-on learning, for the arts-curious, art enthusiasts, and professional artists. They continue to serve one of the most diverse communities in the world and strive to uphold the legacy of inclusiveness that has defined the community since the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657.

Flushing Town Hall awards $100K to Queens artists

Aligning with their mission to provide a platform to local artists, Flushing Town Hall announced it has awarded grant funding to various Queens-based artists and organizations.

After becoming a regranting partner for New York State Council on the Arts in their “Statewide Community Regrants” program, Flushing Town Hall administered Arts Grants for Queens.

Ten individual artists will receive grants of $2,500 each, and $91,032 in funding will be split across 33 organizations.

“We thank NYSCA for this opportunity and are overjoyed to be able to award our neighbors and peers in the borough with well-deserved funding,” Ellen Kodadek, executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall, said.

“The pandemic took a painful toll on the arts sector, and on Queens, but together we are resilient. With these regrants, we proudly invest in the artists and organizations who will bring us catharsis, healing and occasion to gather together again.”

A panel of artists, community leaders and stakeholders selected the artists and organizations that would receive grant funding via an application process that examined artistic merit, community benefit and project feasibility.
Included in the long list of grant recipients is Women in Comics Collective International Inc., an organization focused on providing support to marginalized groups as they navigate the comics industry.

As they celebrate their 10-year anniversary, Women in Comics Collective will use the awarded grant to fund WinC x King Manor, an outdoor comic book festival at the King Manor museum in Jamaica.

The event will take place on May 21 from 5 to 9 p.m. and will feature different workshops, art vendors and live model drawing with local cosplayers as the models.

“I was dancing around my house when I found out we were selected,” Regine Sawyer, founder and coordinator of Women in Comics Collective, said. “As a nonprofit, it’s so helpful to have this support to make events financially accessible to communities of color and other marginalized communities.”

“It is very important to us that our events are in communities that aren’t exposed to this, because there’s so many artists, writers and creators who come from these neighborhoods, but don’t have that hands-on experience interacting with industry professionals that they admire,” she added.

The diverse list of grantees also includes Culture Lab LIC, an organization that will offer an artist residency program providing artists with the space to produce new work, and indie artist Magdalena Kaczmarska of Rego Park for “Stories in the Moment,” providing Queens dementia patients with artistic opportunity.

Dan Bamba, director of arts services at Flushing Town Hall said that the institution is excited to be part of the first year of NYSCA’s regrant program.

“Flushing Town Hall may be best known as an arts presenter, and as an Arts Council, we also offer an array of services for aspiring and professional artists, as well,” Bamba said.

“In addition to these NYSCA regrants, we also offer Space Grants for artists developing work in our space and we host Artist Professional Development Conversations, a series of workshops addressing the business needs of artists, with topics ranging from fundraising to marketing to bookings.”

Bamba added that a private ceremony will be held to honor the grantees, and that Flushing Town Hall plans to reopen the program for a second year to continue to support the arts community in Queens.

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