By Kevin Zimmerman
When Jeffrey Rosenstock took over as executive director of Queens College’s Kupferberg Center for the Arts a little more than two years ago, his first assignment was to turn the campus into the premier fine and performing arts showcase in the borough.
And while that project remains a work in progress, Rosenstock believes he and his team could make the Flushing campus one of the top artistic venues in the city.
“If we market it right, people will come,” said Rosenstock. “Before the college felt off the radar a little bit.”
Rosenstock expects the school to shine more brightly this fall with such diverse performers as Cyndi Lauper, Audra McDonald and the Boston Pops.
After the school’s president, James Muyskens, sent the then newly appointed executive director off with his first task, Rosenstock sat down and asked himself a question.
“What can we really do that others can’t,” said Rosenstock.
He quickly realized the college had top tier programs and venues with the Aaron Copland School of Music, the Colden Auditorium and the Goldstein Theatre among others. Some of the facilities were looking a little worn around the edges, but that project would come later with last year’s $18 million renovation of the school’s theaters and museums.
Although each of the art groups experienced varying degrees of success attracting audience members, Rosenstock had to convince them that by joining forces they could help each other out.
“I banded all these entities on campus under one banner,” said Rosenstock. “I also asked each one to buy into this so we could make things happen they couldn’t do on their own.”
From this informal agreement came Kupferberg Presents, which is basically the programming unit of the performance spaces. Now, instead of different people handling press releases and programming for each venue, Rosenstock hired one media director to oversee the entire group. This also allows one individual to juggle calendars for each space.
“This way you’re not opening an art show and a play on the same night,” said Rosenstock.
Rosenstock also hired Leon Denmark as Kupferberg Presents’ artistic director and charged him with bringing A-listers to the college.
That started last year with appearances by Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Cosby and continues with a slew of music, dance and art shows for this season. Rosenstock anticipates adding to the rooster of performers and meeting with student groups to make sure Kupferberg Presents brings in artists they want to see.
Other shows on tap include the Boston Pops Esplanade Ensemble’s Holiday Concert on Dec. 8, R & B icon Valerie Simpson on Dec. 14, the Ballet Hispanic on Feb. 8 and 9 and Broadway legend Barbara Cook on May 10.
“You need to get visibility and attention so you need to get the big names,” said Rosenstock. “In future years we may bring in an artist you may not know of.”
But no matter who’s on the bill, Rosenstock wants to create a place where residents know they’re in for a good time.
“We’re trying to make it so when you come, it’s a glad-I-came experience,” said Rosenstock.