By Nathan Duke
The Queens Council on the Arts awarded grants last week to 43 borough arts organizations and 17 individual artists as part of its annual community awards despite a weak economy, which has prevented many city cultural institutions from obtaining funds this year.
The council handed out $224,000 to visual arts, film, theatre, multimedia, literary arts, dance and music organizations from Queens at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center at 153-10 Jamaica Ave. last Thursday. In addition, eight borough schools were given a total of $17,800 to go toward the funding of arts programs.
“In a tough time, I have the distinct pleasure of saying my job is to give funding to artists,” said Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, executive director of the council.
This year’s recipients include College Point’s Poppenhusen Institute, Flushing’s Voelker Orth Museum, the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, the Astoria Performing Arts Center, Woodside’s Hip to Hip Theatre Co., the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, Jamaica’s Farmers Boulevard Community Development Corp., the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, Blue Pipa Inc., Fresh Meadows Poets and the New York Metropolitan County Music Association.
The schools awarded grants were Woodside’s PS 52, Astoria’s PS 85 and PS 122, Jamaica’s PS 161, Bellerose’s PS 224, Flushing’s PS 255, Elmhurst’s Pan American International High School and Jackson Heights’ Renaissance Charter School.
“Arts are very important,” Borough President Helen Marshall said at the ceremony. “They entertain, generate ideas and help us to see something about ourselves we might not see.”
State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) said he would fight to preserve funding for arts organizations in the state Legislature despite budget cuts in Albany.
“You have to make your presence known,” he told representatives of the Queens arts world at the event. “Collectively we will succeed.”
The directors and presidents of several borough institutions said they were grateful to receive grants in a year they expected significantly less funding.
“We wondered if we’d have to close after 143 years because of state budget cuts,” said Susan Brustmann, director of the Poppenhusen Institute. “Last year was bad for nonprofits. We were holding our breath for a few months.”
The institute was given a $2,000 grant, which will primarily go toward its expense budget, Brustmann said.
Chuck Wade, president of the Voelker Orth Museum, said it will host several major events this year to raise money.
“We have an endowment that was left for the museum, but we are not getting any funds from the city,” Wade said.
The grants were funded by the city Department of Cultural Affairs, JP Morgan Chase Bank’s Arts Foundation Regrants Program and the state Council on the Arts’ Decentralization Program.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.