April 20, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A new initiative that aims to showcase the best of Queens arts and culture was officially launched at an in-person event at the Queens Museum Tuesday.
The initiative, called Queens Rising, will be a month long celebration in June and will consist of dozens of musical and dance performances as well as other creator-inspired events and cultural programs.
The events will take place at various locations throughout the borough and will be promoted under the Queens Rising name as a means of increasing the visibility of artists, arts organizations and arts institutions.
The Queens Rising website, for instance, has a dedicated page where events are listed. With all these events cataloged at one site, the backers of Queens Rising will be promoting them all under the one umbrella.
The initiative, organizers say, makes it easier to reach potential audiences. It also helps to connect artists with venue operators and other businesses.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas were among those in attendance along with other officials from various institutions involved in organizing the initiative. For instance, there were representatives from Northwell Health, which is a lead sponsor, the Queens Economic Development Corporation and the Queens Library.
The Queens Post is also a sponsor of Queens Rising.
Richards said that the borough is steeped in culture and that the Queens Rising initiative will help showcase it.
“Queens rising will shine a spotlight on the many cultural groups that pull up from organizations that helped define who we are as a borough and enrich the lives of millions of families right here in the worlds borrowed from performances to art and beyond,” Richards said.
“There’s something for everyone to enjoy, and all of it will help them tell the story of Queens, the most unique and diverse place on the planet.”
Organizers say that the initiative stemmed from a need to promote the diversity of Queens through art.
The pandemic also prompted organizers to come up with a way to highlight the resiliency of the borough through art — given Queens was the epicenter of the epicenter of COVID-19, when the pandemic first broke out.
Leaders from various Queens-based arts and culture organizations came together and formed a planning committee and came up with the Queens Rising initiative. They formed several working groups to put the plans in place.
Karesia Batan, who founded the Queensboro Dance Festival nearly 10 years ago, said the initiative will be important to find lesser-known artists in the borough. Batan is also a member of the planning committee.
She said Queens Rising aims to use established cultural institutions to support those artists.
“We are so committed to being able to find all of those independent artists… and bring them up with all of the funding that institutions get.”
Batan appealed to the public to get the word out about Queens Rising.
“Help us find all of the other artists in all of the different disciplines — not just dance, but visual arts, music, theater,” Batan said.
“Please [tell them] to join Queens Rising because it was really about amplifying those smaller voices that we don’t know yet.”
Established events such as Batan’s Queensboro Dance Festival, will be listed under the Queens Rising initiative.
For instance, the Queensboro Dance Festival will take place at Windmuller Park in Woodside on June 11 and 12, at Leavitts Park in Flushing on June 19 and in Far Rockaway on June 25 and 26.
Sonia De Los Santos, a Latin Grammy-nominated artist, will perform at Flushing Town Hall on June 24, while B3W Performance Group, a storytelling and dance group, will perform in Long Island City on June 3 with a show tackling systemic racism.
Organizers also made an appeal for artists to submit their events to the website to be included on the calendar.
“We know that they’re all out there,” Batan said. “We want to represent as many of the different cultures and languages that are here… and then put it on the map.
Queens Rising organizers hope that the initiative will replicate a community-driven plan to promote the borough as a tourist destination.
“We really are a thing, Queens is happening despite the last two years and so much is going to happen,” said Seth Bornstein, executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
“It’s a great day, it’s a great beginning.”
Among the other speakers at the launch were Queens Museum Director Sally Tallant, Executive Director of Kupferberg Center for the Arts Jeff Rosenstock, Brooklyn Council Member Chi Ossé, who is also Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations,
Chief of Cardiology at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills (Northwell Health) Dr. Michael Goyfman, and
President and CEO of Queens Public LibraryDennis Walcott.