The white social distancing circles are still visible on the Plaxall parking lot on 46th Avenue in Long Island City, where Culture Lab LIC presented so many outdoor performances during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a memorable comedy show hosted by SNL comedian Michael Che.
Now, Culture Lab LIC is launching its “In the Gallery” program on April 2 with two art exhibits and its Culture Lab Live indoor musical performances every Tuesday through April 19.
“Where many organizations were not able to survive, we were able to pivot and thrive. Every year our reach has more than doubled,” Culture Lab LIC Executive Director Edjo Wheeler said. “We are dedicated to serving our community by promoting arts and culture of all mediums. It is hard to break down Culture Lab LIC into just a few simple statements; the impact we have on this community is broad and significant.”
The weeklong CreArtBox Classical Music Festival gets underway on Friday, April 8, at 8 p.m., including chamber music concerts with a crafted visual aesthetic, eclectic music programming and community outreach programs. The festival includes artist talks and Q&A sessions where composers, musicians and visual artists are more accessible and approachable to the local community than they are in regular performances.
“Culture Lab LIC has produced more arts and cultural programming than any organization in the city,” Wheeler said. “That might seem like a boast, but the numbers don’t lie. With hundreds of free events for our community, last year alone over 22,000 people visited our location.”
The CreArtBox Festival takes place in Culture Lab LIC’s renovated 90-seat theater located in a former warehouse at 5-25 46th Ave. near the East River waterfront.
“To get to know Culture Lab LIC it is helpful to understand everything that goes on here,” Culture Lab LIC Director of Events Tess Howland said. “Outdoor and indoor concerts, art exhibitions, theatrical productions, comedy shows, dance and over two dozen artists in residence. Really, there is something for everyone.”
Admission to the art exhibits is free and open to the public while the entrance for the indoor music is “pay what you will” with a suggested $10 donation that helps support the performer.
“As one of the few brick-and-mortar theaters in Queens, we are proud to host so many great performances, exploring all genres. Our primary focus is partnering with companies that produce original work,” Culture Lab LIC Performing Arts Director Tana Sirois said. “For me, the most rewarding part of working at Culture Lab LIC, is being able to support so many talented artists working among multiple disciplines. It’s a real gift to be able to foster the development of new work and to provide a space for artists to showcase their work. Creating a safe space where artists feel both valued and inspired is very important to me and to Culture Lab LIC.”
For more information and a schedule of events, or to become a member, visit culturelablic.org. The live music performances return to the Plaxall parking lot beginning April 30 with music by Sam Phelps & The Local 883, Tilted Axes and Lee Taylor. With future performances scheduled through the spring and summer.
“A huge part of our mission is to provide free space for other nonprofits to further their missions,” Wheeler said. “We provide space, technical needs, staffing, and the blood sweat and tears it takes to make it happen.”