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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.

Townsend Harris High School receives $250K in State funds

Townsend Harris High School recently received $250,000 in State funding for their Bridge Year Program from New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic.

Stavisky and Rozic presented a check to Principal Brian Condon, after which, they spent the afternoon talking with students who have benefited from the Bridge Year Program and have taken courses such as English, Astronomy, Sociology, and Urban Studies.

Townsend Harris High School has always offered its seniors a unique opportunity to attend classes at Queens College and earn college credit. Under the previous mayoral administration, there were attempts to cut the program despite strong support from local elected officials, the THHS administration, faculty, and students.

Stavisky, who helped fight to fund the program, said “this is a program that should be replicated throughout New York City. With the evergrowing costs of college, this gives students a foot in the door while at the same time exposing them to the excellent opportunities that Queens College has to offer.”

“This is a program that should be replicated throughout New York City,” Stavisky, who helped fight to restore funding from the State, said in a statement. “With the ever growing costs of college, this gives students a foot in the door while at the same time exposing them to the excellent opportunities that Queens College has to offer.”

Assemblywoman Rozic, who is herself an alumnus of Townsend Harris and benefited from the Bridge Year Program said, “Giving our students the tools to advance in their higher education is imperative for their success at the university-level and beyond.”

“I am proud to have secured funding with Senator Stavisky for the Queens College Bridge Program at Townsend Harris High School, which will help transition high school seniors to the new responsibilities of college coursework and allow them to gain college credits at no additional cost to families,” Rozic said in a statement.

Since taking the helm at Townsend Harris High School five years ago, Principal Brian Condon has been an outspoken proponent of the program and has brought together City and State officials to keep the program running.

“On behalf of the entire Townsend Harris Community, I thank State Senator Toby Stavisky and Assemblymember Nily Rozic for securing $250,000 to fund our renowned Queens College Bridge Year Program,” Principal Condon said in a statement. “Their visionary leadership and willingness to fight to keep this program alive for another year will ensure that the next senior class of Townsend Harris High School students will attend college courses while in high school. Furthermore, it will continue to allow Townsend Harris High School at Queens College, a public high school, to be a place that offers students of all backgrounds the greatest educational opportunities this city and state have to offer.“

With a new administration now in place, Rozic and Stavisky said they hope this funding will bring fresh opportunities for the school and encourage Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council to continue to invest in the Bridge Year Program.

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