After more than two years of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the borough’s arts organizations and cultural institutions staged a reunion at the Queens Museum on April 19 to announce the launch of “Queens Rising,” a monthlong, multidisciplinary arts celebration to draw visitors from across the city.
The new collaboration will present dozens of performances, exhibitions and cultural events in June to showcase the borough’s artistic and cultural communities.
“This initiative has been in the works for two years as the COVID-19 pandemic threatened the very existence of many of our cultural groups in the room, yet even in the darkest of days during the pandemic, culture never closed in Queens,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “You never lost hope that we would emerge from the darkness with our cultural groups once again shining a light on what sets us apart as a borough.”
The Queens Rising initiative arose from an arts advisory board meeting of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts where representatives of the cultural scene gathered and began planning the celebration.
“Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning was honored to be among the organizations involved in the Queens Rising initiative from the moment of its inception, and we couldn’t be prouder of what it represents to the arts, entertainment and culture sector,” JCAL Executive Director Leonard Jacobs said. “Because it is a fact: Queens is rising. Collectively and individually, we’re giving the long-overdue recognition that our borough, dynamic and diverse, absolutely deserves.”
Karesia Batan, who founded the Queensboro Dance Festival a decade ago, said the initiative would amplify smaller voices of artists in all disciplines.
“We’re excited to be part of this multidisciplinary initiative to celebrate all of Queens together,” Batan said. “We envision this to be an unprecedented way that large and small arts groups in our borough work together, and that Queens Rising will be wonderful visibility for the many unsung cultures and stories of our artists here will be accessible for everyone to experience.”
A lead sponsor was needed and the Queens Rising planning committee found a partner in Northwell Health, which operates Long Island Jewish Forest Hills.
“As a community hospital that not only serves the health care needs of Queens but also draws a majority of our staff from within the diverse neighborhoods that make up our borough, LIJ Forest Hills is Queens,” said Lorraine Chambers Lewis, executive director of LIJ Forest Hills. “We were at the epicenter of COVID and came through it with the help of our community, more resilient than ever. That’s why we are thrilled to be part of Queens Rising to celebrate the rich tapestry of arts, culinary and creative communities that make our borough so unique.”
Other sponsors include the Queens Economic Development Corporation and Queens Public Library.
“Queens is happening despite the last two years,” QPL President and CEO Dennis Walcott said. “So much is going to happen and we were so excited when we found out about Queens Rising, we had to be a part of it.”
For more information about the events that are scheduled throughout the borough in June, visit the Queens Rising website here.