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The Play’s The Thing: Queens Council on Arts grants a boon to boro

By Ronald B. Hellman

Once upon a time I was an active board member of the Queens Council on the Arts — for more than 20 years in fact, as one of its presidents as well as chairman of its theater committee. All that was many years ago, and like a romance faded, we didn’t keep in touch. But there I was in early February at the Water’s Edge Restaurant in Long Island City, to rekindle the flame with my old organization.

The occasion was QCA’s annual Arts Fund Awards ceremony, rescheduled from the previous week — you might have heard, we had some snow.

Founded in 1966, QCA is a borough-wide arts service organization. It provides grants and education services, programming and events, and was the moving force behind the development of such institutions as the Queens Museum of Art, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Colden Center and Queens Theatre in the Park.

Since its inception, QCA has awarded more than $2 million to Queens artists and arts organizations — this past year it distributed some $217,000 — so all you financially strapped theater companies may want to show up on its doorstep. Guidelines and application information for the next round of grants will be available on its website by mid-June. Located at Oak Ridge in Forest Park, QCA can be reached at 347-505-3010, and online at www.QueensCouncilArts.org. Its executive director is Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, the arts fund coordinator is Katie Tuss and its board president is Barbara Pryor.

The awards ceremony was attended by many luminaries from the Queens cultural community, performing and visual artists, administrators and other notables. There was the executive director of the Astoria Performing Arts Center, now Taryn Sacramone, having picked up a new name last year and expecting to give birth some time this summer. Prior to that blessed event, APAC will celebrate its 10th anniversary on March 24 at Cienna in Astoria, and will produce the musical version of the William Saroyan play “The Human Comedy” in May.

Representing The Oratorio Society of Queens — this classical choral music group is the oldest performing cultural organization in the borough, going back to 1927 — was Artistic Director and Conductor David Close, and his wife, Treasurer LeeAnn Close. Check out its website, one of the best I’ve seen, at www.QueensOratorio.org.

I also had a chance to say hello to Clyde Bullard, the performing arts producer of the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts — jazz is his speciality; Terri Osborne, the director of culture and tourism at Queens Borough Hall; Andrew Jackson (the other one), the longtime executive director of the Queens Library’s Langston Hughes branch in Corona and a leader in black studies; and Sofia Landon Geier, the energetic founder of the Unity Stage Company.

There was also an interesting guy from Brazil and a very tall woman from Australia and a lot of other people stuck on their smartphones — texting, emailing or whatever — but they all seemed to be having a good time.

I was back in western Queens again recently at the American Museum of the Moving Image, recently reopened after a major expansion. Founding director Rochelle Slovin just retired, and Carl Goodman is now in charge. If you’re a movie and TV buff, get over to 35th Avenue and 37th Street in Astoria and see the new digs. Among other things, there are gorgeous photos of glamorous stars — when love is in the air, spring is getting ready to greet us.

Contact Ron Hellman at rbh24@columbia.edu.

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