By Carlotta Mohamed
Flushing Town Hall received an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that will provide funding for its educational performing arts programming.
“The variety and quality of these projects speak to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as Flushing Town Hall in Queens, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”
Next year will be Flushing Town Hall’s 40th anniversary, and its new program series will examine the theme of “Journeys,” which will include global music, dance, international children’s theater, and multi-disciplinary family and school programs, according to Executive and Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek. The theme of “Journeys” will resonate with the audiences of Queens, where a majority of residents have established new homes at the end of long journeys.
“Flushing Town Hall is deeply grateful for the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts” said Kodadek. “This grant will allow us to continue to bring global arts to a global community, and to provide a platform for diverse and talented local, immigrant, national and international artists.”
The $60,000 grant will serve approximately 140 artists from around the world; 17 public performances; 10 school group performances; 13 workshops; and one pop-up exhibition that will reach roughly 6,000 audience members — including 2,500 schoolchildren.
“We have artists coming from Colombia, India, Canada, China and other parts of the world,” Kodadek said. “Each artist, depending on their expertise or background, will have a unique expression of their home culture and the varied influences acquired through their journeys.”
Highlights from the series include a performance from artist Inkarayku, linking the past, present, and future of Andean arts, through the performance of indigenous music forms that have evolved into the contemporary mestizo music heard today. Another performance includes award-winning artist Feifei Yang, leading an ensemble of Chinese folk instruments with Western and popular music. Lastly, a global mash-up series: Five evenings, each featuring two dance lessons, two bands each with their own set, culminating in a third “jam” set.
Flushing Town Hall will look at specific examples of how cultures came together through migration and resulted in a new form, such as the emergence of the ukulele in Hawaiian music after its introduction by Portuguese sailors.
“The goal of the education arts program is to expose audiences to a wide range of cultures and celebrating the heritage of the community,” said Kodadek. “It’s about bringing people together through the arts.”
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha