The first annual Queens Rising initiative came to a close with a musical performance and art exhibit at Culture Lab LIC on June 30.
The monthlong multidisciplinary arts celebration created to highlight the borough’s cultural and creative diversity showcased nearly 250 events and exhibitions, from more than 70 participating organizations throughout Queens.
Programs including dance performances to film screenings, street fairs, Juneteenth events, Pride programming and more, were offered in multiple languages for audiences of all ages and interests.
“It has been an exhilarating experience to see Queens Rising come together,” said Jeffrey Rosenstock, assistant vice president for government relations and external affairs at Queens College, and member of the Queens Rising planning committee. “The success of this initiative is truly a tribute to our mutual commitments to amplify the cultural vitality of our borough’s arts organizations and artists, and to draw local, national and international audiences to venues throughout Queens.”
The Chocolate Factory Theater Co-Founder and Artistic Director Brian Rogers also served on the planning committee.
“Queens-based arts organizations have always found ways to individually partner and collaborate, but never in my 20+ years as an artist and curator, have seen anyone try to meaningfully connect the vast, diverse and micro-local art movements of this very complicated borough,” Rogers said. “Queens Rising is unprecedented in this regard. To witness these seemingly disparate communities come together, on a large scale, with visibility, is inspiring.”
The initiative arose from an Arts Advisory Board meeting of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts, where leaders representing various Queens-based arts and cultural organizations gathered to form the planning commission. The monthlong celebration kicked off at the Queens Night Market opening at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“From the musical performances to the dancing to the delicious aromas wafting from the food vendors at the Queens Night Market, this truly represents the heart and soul of Queens,” said Lorraine Chambers Lewis, executive director of LIJ Forest Hills. “Our hospital, along with Northwell Health, is proud to be a lead sponsor of this monthlong event celebrating the arts and culture of the country’s most diverse borough.”
Additionally, each week, Queens Rising brought members of the borough’s arts and cultural community together for a networking happy hour to help strengthen the connections between people working in the field throughout the borough culminating in the final event at Culture Lab LIC, the outdoor performance venue located at the Plaxall parking lot on 46th Avenue alongside the Anable Basin.
“This place, in general, is honestly one of my favorite music and arts venues in the entire city,” LIC resident Cassie Hafner said. “You have this amazing outdoor space right on the water and it has such a great art gallery as well.”
Queens Rising is already looking ahead to the summer of 2023, and Culture Lab LIC Executive Director Edjo Wheeler would like to see the initiative grow beyond its current scope.
“I think it is important for businesses to participate in these kinds of activities,” Wheeler said. “The best path forward for all of us is to work together for the health of our community.”
Queens Rising has already secured major funding for the 2023 season from the Howard Gilman Foundation to further promote the arts in Queens.
“Our foundation believes in the importance of a thriving and vibrant arts ecosystem in New York City, and Queens Rising’s vision and work is a terrific match with our mission,” Howard Gilman Foundation President and CEO Laura Aden said. “Queens Rising had an amazing first year, and we’re proud to support this initiative’s efforts in 2023 as it continues to grow and strengthen the arts community in the fabulous borough of Queens.”