Celebrate the Fourth of July with New York State Arts & Culture!

Independence Day weekend is right around the corner and we’ve highlighted a few events just for you! Experience life at a fort from the Revolutionary War, attend a pops concert featuring American composers and enjoy the symphony under a 4th of July fireworks show. Get your sparklers ready and make the arts a part of your celebrations.

Looking to add even more culture to your calendar? Check out NYSCA’s Summer Guide, featuring must-see arts events from our grantees across New York State!

The Corning Museum of Glass’ GlassBarge hosts hot glass demonstrations along the Erie Canal

Adirondack Theatre Festival Presents “Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat”, July 1

This modern electro-pop musical written by Jonathon Larson Award winner Nikko Benson has been described as “HAMILTON meets TESLA.” A theatrical experience unlike any other turns up the volume on one of the most influential innovators of our time.

7:30pm, Wood Theater, 207 Glen St., Glens Falls, $34-$45

Bard SummerScape 2017, July 1 & 2

New York City Ballet MOVES brings Chopin’s music to life with their vibrant choreography and skill. This program traces the choreographic lineage of the New York City Ballet featuring a select group of principal dancers, soloists, corps de ballet members, and musicians.

Times vary, 60 Manor Ave., Annandale-on-Hudson, $20-$85

Fort Ticonderoga Independence Day Weekend, July 1-4

Fort Ticonderoga invites you to be fully immersed in this four day Independence Day celebration. The weekend will be filled with patriotic music and American history. You can explore the fort on a tour by boat, learn about the importance of shoemaking and tailoring, and even witness a live canon demonstration.

9:30am-5pm, 100 Fort Ti Rd., Ticonderoga, $23

Albany Symphony: Water Music New York, July 2-8

The Albany Symphony performs free concerts along the Erie Canal in seven communities and collaborates with local art groups to debut world premieres by emerging composers.

Various venues, FREE

Richmond County Orchestra Celebrates American Music, July 2

Music by American composers, including Leroy Anderson and Leonard Bernstein, will be featured at this pops concert by RCO.

3pm, 200 Boscombe Ave., Staten Island, FREE

Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Presents Olate Dogs, July 2

These America’s Got Talent Season 7 winners headlined The Palazzo in Las Vegas and are now head to Westhampton Beach. The father-son duo and their group of adorable rescued dogs have created a high-energy, fast-paced show of amazing, dog-friendly acrobatics.

3pm, 76 Main St., Westhampton Beach, $25-$45

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Independence Eve with the Buffalo Bisons, July 3

The BPO continues the summer tradition with the Buffalo Bisons. At 9pm, following the baseball game against the Syracuse Chiefs, the BPO will perform a patriotic spectacular all leading up to the biggest fireworks display of the Bisons’ season.

6pm, Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, $26

Glens Falls Symphony Summer Pops Concert, July 3

Patriotic favorites and summertime tunes are the perfect way to bring the celebration weekend to a close. Accompanying the Symphony’s performance will be a wide variety of food and drink vendors. The evening’s grand finale will be a spectacular fireworks show in the park.

7:30pm, Crandall Park, Glens Falls, FREE

Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra: “Independence Day Pops Celebration”, July 4

The Chautauqua Institution is a beautiful setting for this 4th of July evening show. The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra is led by dynamic conductor Stuart Chafetz featuring the powerful vocals of Capathia Jenkins.

8:00pm, One Ames Ave., Chautauqua, $43

For extended celebrating:

GlassBarge at Seneca Falls Canal Fest, July 7-9

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in New York State, The Corning Museum of Glass’ GlassBarge will deploy an all-female glassblowing team to the Seneca Falls Canal Fest as part of their summer of glass events along the Erie Canal.

5pm to 8pm, Seneca Falls, more information at cmog.org

NYSCA Grants in Action: Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival

Walking through the heart of Chinatown you wouldn’t except to hear Klezmer – traditional Jewish music – ringing through the neighborhood, but every June, it’s exactly the kind of cultural combination you’ll find on New York City’s Lower East Side.

For the past 17 years the Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival, hosted by the Museum at Eldridge Street has brought together Chinese, Jewish and more recently Puerto Rican cultural arts and traditions.

The Museum at Eldridge Street draws a crowd for the Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival

A NYSCA grantee through the Museum and Folk Arts Programs, the Museum at Eldridge Street, lives in the walls of the Eldridge Street Synagogue. They offer K-12 and adult learning programs, historic building tours, concerts, and neighborhood walking tours.

NYSCA’s Folk Arts Program supports the Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival. The festival’s coordinator and the Museum’s Director of Programs, Hanna Griff- Sleven, is a trained folklorist.

“Beyond the exchange of culture is a deep feeling of community and joy that emanates from all the participants and festival goers. This is a New York Moment.” Griff- Sleven says.

If you attended this year’s festival, you might have heard Jose Ocasio with Bomba Y Plena Dura performing traditional Puerto Rican music, ending their performance by announcing the beauty of such a “New York Moment.”

Jose Ocasio with Bomba Y Plena Dura performing at the Festival on the corner of Eldridge Street and Division Street

The mission of the Museum at Eldridge Street and the Festival is, “to serve people of all backgrounds with educational and cultural programs inspired by the landmark building and its gateway Lower East Side neighborhood.”

This goal is apparent as you make your way up and down Eldridge Street, where tents have popped up and are filled with craftsman, arts activities, and of course, egg rolls, egg creams, and empanadas!

Parve (Kosher) Egg Rolls and Empanadas being served outside the Museum

When entering into the museum, visitors are immediately greeted by paper arts, one table of Jewish paper cutting and another of Chinese paper folding.

The festival is the celebration of the neighborhood, bringing together the arts of these three cultures to sit with another, to learn about each other, and show visitors, they really aren’t so different from each other, but still have their own…flavor.

This event is a long time in the making, a day which is driven by the communities which have grown up, and are just being born in the blocks surrounding the Museum at Eldridge Street.

To stay updated about the Festival and the Museum at Eldridge Street’s other programs visit  http://www.eldridgestreet.org/.


NYSCA in the News

This week, NYSCA grantees celebrate their histories with anniversary celebrations and the release of archival materials and look toward bright futures with a new design and a major restoration.

Freihofer’s Jazz Fest celebrates 40 years at SPAC

Albany Times-Union

“The grounds of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center are hallowed for jazz lovers, who flock year after year to the annual jazz festival, created in 1978 by legendary promoter George Wein on what is described as a ‘handshake deal’ with then-SPAC director Herb Chesbrough…This weekend is the 40th edition. According to Danny Melnick, who produces it in partnership with SPAC, it is the fifth-longest consecutive running jazz festival in North America. This will also be the 20th year of major sponsorship from Freihofer’s Baking Co. for the event, officially known as the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival…In its first year, a Wein-organized jam session with jazz icons ended day one, but not exactly as planned. The hour grew late. Past midnight. Wein, in the wings, made motions to cut off the music. Dizzy Gillespie, the ringleader, lived up to his mischievous nickname; he chuckled, waved his hand dismissively and counted off another tune. Meanwhile, the crowd wildly cheered solos from such heroes as Dexter Gordon, Roy Haynes and Sonny Rollins. It is the site where, on day two of 1978, every famous big band in the country played through the day and night… ‘It’s very exciting on so many different levels,’ [Melnick] said of the 40th… ‘I think we’re pushing the music forward by the artists that we book and trying to book a well-rounded festival. That’s what I try to do every year.’ Performers include Chaka Khan, the Gipsy Kings and Jacob Collier. NYSCA supports SPAC through our Presenting Program.

Brooklyn Academy of Music Puts 70,000 Archive Materials Online

New York Times

“More than 70,000 playbills, posters and ephemera from the history of the Brooklyn Academy of Music — from as far back as the Civil War era — are now available through the Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive, which opened to the public on Tuesday. The archive has been in development for several years, paid for by a $1 million grant from the Leon Levy Foundation, the same organization that funded the New York Philharmonic’s digital collection. Materials from the archive include press clippings and posters from the Brooklyn Academy’s opening days in the 1860s, when Mary Todd Lincoln was in attendance, as well as items from the institution’s often-adventurous performances by artists including the tenor Enrico Caruso, the choreographer Pina Bausch and the ‘Einstein on the Beach’ collaborators Philip Glass and Robert Wilson. Roughly 40,000 artists are represented in the archive. And the collection has been organized so that the 70,000 items are all linked to the names of the people involved. Researchers — or anyone interested — can create personalized collections based on specific artists, companies or eras…The collection is available at levyarchive.bam.org.” NYSCA supports BAM through our Presenting and Electronic Media & Film Programs.

Albright-Knox design features infusion of public green space

Buffalo News

“Architect Shohei Shigematsu walked Buffalonians through dozens of ideas for his firm’s new design for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery expansion Wednesday night in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center…In the plan, conceived by Shigematsu and his New York-based team at the architecture firm OMA, the gallery’s existing parking lot will disappear. The result, he said, during a 30-minute presentation, would be the addition of 14 percent more green space to the gallery’s campus, which if all goes to plan will contain 80 percent green space.” NYSCA supports the Albright-Knox through our Museum Program and Regional Economic Development Council initiative.

MWPAI exhibition explores how Empire State modernized America

Utica Observer-Dispatch

“A new exhibition opening today at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art features about 100 pieces that show how New York State formed what is considered modern America. Anna D’Ambrosio, director of the MWPAI Museum of Art, said ‘Roaring Into the Future: New York 1925-35’ has pieces showcasing fashion arts, paintings, decorative arts, video and music; including masterpieces from the MWPAI collection by Reginald Marsh, John Storrs and Stuart Davis. ‘It’s the first comprehensive look at the contributions New York state artists, designers and manufacturers between the decade of 1925-1935,’ she said. ‘We’re really going from the jazz age to the cusp of World War II. So that time between the wars, including The Depression, were a time that New York state played a really pivotal role in forming what would become modern American style.’ Works from museums across the state are features in the exhibition, including famous photographs from the George Eastman Museum and from The Whitney Museum; dazzling jewelry from Tiffany & Co. Archives; decorative arts from Yale University Art Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum; and a Franklin Automobile from the Northeast Classic Car Museum. Rarely exhibited works from galleries and private collections also are featured, D’Ambrosio said. There also are pieces from Revere Copper and Brass in Rome and some from General Electric.” NYSCA supports the MWPAI through our Museum and Presenting Programs.

New York museums: architecture and design exhibits to see this summer


“This summer, architecture and design fiends are in luck: there are quite a few museum exhibits happening throughout the city, with something for every taste. Are you more into Art Deco? The Cooper Hewitt has you covered. Is ’80s style—as in the 1980s—more your thing? Head to the Met Breuer.” Featured in Curbed’s roundup are NYSCA grantees Cooper Hewitt, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Socrates Sculpture Park, and the AIA New York Center for Architecture.

Unknown Stories of WNY: Darwin Martin House Fireplace


“The Darwin Martin House is a piece of Buffalo’s history and its future. Martin House Restoration Committee Executive Director Mary Roberts says it is ‘More than just a house, this one and a half acre estate is a grouping of buildings designed over 100 years ago by America’s greatest architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.’…It has also been an endless supply of hidden masterpieces that continue to be discovered and brought back to life, as is the case with the home’s spectacular leaded and stained glass mosaic fireplace…Last month, it was unveiled more than a century after it was originally designed and installed. The original fireplace was lost when the house was abandoned…However, work crews…were cleaning out the ash bin in the basement when they found pieces of the fireplace…There are about 50 original pieces in this spectacular recreation, done the old-fashioned way, by Bodies Studio of Architectural Art in Chicago. They hand-cut, hand-patterned, fired, hand ground homemade glass. Painted each piece of glass with some amount of liquid gold, laid it up in patterns, grouted it, and set them on 28 large glass patterns which were then shipped to Buffalo and affixed to the foundation…Empire State Development C.E.O. Howard Zemsky says Wright himself considered this his best work. ‘This is a man who had a prolific career over many, many decades and at the end of it assessed his own career and said in [Buffalo,] New York I created my Opus, it’s the Martin House.’” NYSCA supports the Martin House Restoration Corp through our Architecture + Design Program.

Yiddish Theater Plans an Immigration Arts Summit

New York Times

“The National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene, a downtown cultural mainstay for 100 years, has recently placed an emphasis on cross-cultural pollination: its annual KulturfestNYC festival started in 2015 and has brought together performers from Argentina to Russia to Japan. Now, the Folksbiene will host the Immigration Arts Summit on July 17-18, featuring a diverse array of cultural arts groups. The summit will feature panels, discussions and performances at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and culminate in a free concert in Robert Wagner Park. The event will start with a keynote speech by John Leguizamo, an actor whose latest one-man show, ‘Latin History for Morons,’ ran at the Public Theater this year. Panels and workshops will bring together representatives from city arts groups including the Irish Repertory Theater, the Pan Asian Repertory Theater, El Museo del Barrio and the Tenement Museum…the arts groups [will] hold a planning session on July 18 to discuss future collaborations. Tickets will be $10 for each day, or $15 for both. The concert in Wagner Park, however, is free, and will feature individual and collaborative performances — including excerpts from Folksbiene’s production of the musical ‘Amerike — The Golden Land,’ which opens July 4 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.” NYSCA supports the Folksbiene through our Theatre Program.

NYSCA hosts guest speakers Gregory Mosher and Paul King at Council Meeting

On Wednesday, June 21, 2017,  NYSCA hosted a Committee Meeting and a Council Meeting to review a portion of FY2018 applications.

Following application review, we were visited by two fascinating guest speakers: Tony Award winner Gregory Mosher, Professor at the Columbia University School of the Arts and former director of Lincoln Center Theater, and Paul King, Executive Director of the Office of Arts and Special Projects, New York City Department of Education. We thank our speakers and our Chair Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel for an insightful discussion about audience building and the vital role of the arts in schools.

NYSCA’s Summer Guide: Your Ticket to New York State Arts & Culture!

Grab your sunscreen and get ready for your best summer yet with NYSCA’s Summer Guide, your resource for arts and cultural events from June to September all over New York State! Inside, find need-to-know info to enjoy an electro-pop musical about the life of Nikola Tesla in the Adirondacks, see glassblowing demonstrations along the Erie Canal, end a beach day with great movies at the Hamptons’ International Film Festival, explore the avant-garde at the Rochester Fringe Festival, hear the new opera Scalia/Ginsberg on Lake Glimmerglass, listen to standards performed by stars at the Saratoga Jazz Festival, and even see a show featuring extremely talented dogs on Long Island.

We’ve compiled listings from our grantees to ensure that music, dance, theater, film, museums and more can be a part of your summer plans wherever you live – or travel – in New York State. Share with us how you’re enjoying New York State culture on Instagram @NYSCouncilontheArts using #NYSummerofArt!

NYSCA Chair Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel represents U.S. at Dartmouth Monument dedication

NYSCA Chair Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel

June 6, 2017–Today in Dartmouth, England, the American Battle Monuments Commission dedicated its 28th federal monument.

ABMC Commissioner Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, speaking at the dedication ceremony, said, “It has been 73 years since Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy.

“We can never sufficiently thank those who served, and who died, during the Second World War.  But today, in lands kept free by the sacrifice of men and women dedicated to that freedom, we come to honor their service and their heroism.  Let us resolve to prove worthy of the sacrifice represented by this monument.”

The Commission also unveiled a bronze plaque in the Britannia Royal Naval College, which served as XI Amphibious Force headquarters during the war.

ABMC, a U.S. Federal agency, now maintains 26 American military cemeteries and 29 memorials, monuments and markers worldwide, including two cemeteries in England.

The Dartmouth Monument is the Commission’s only monument in England.

NYSCA in the News

This week, NYSCA grantees announce new leadership and new homes, and one museum realizes alternate visions of NYC.

New SPAC chief aims to rock the boat

Troy Record

“Music-lovers from around the region are excited for the start of the summer season at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, but possibly none more than Elizabeth Sobol. After the end of the famous venue’s 50th anniversary season, former leader Marcia White stepped down and Elizabeth Sobol took over in October as SPAC’s new president and CEO…While continuing longtime traditions like serving as the summer home for the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Sobol is implementing some new initiatives at SPAC. From collaborating with other area venues, to ordering a new and larger second stage, to inviting guests onto the amphitheatre stage for the first time and even letting the public in for free – Sobol hasn’t been afraid to rock the boat a bit…So far, one of the most well received new efforts is the SPAC on Stage series. These events will take place on Monday nights in August, featuring dynamic, genre-crossing artists whose music is pushing the boundaries of classical into new directions. Those acts are The Hot Sardines, Time for Three, Black Violin and Tiempo Libre. Still months away from the first show, this series is already close to being sold out, Sobol proudly reported, adding that 21 percent of ticket buyers are people who have never been to SPAC before.” NYSCA supports SPAC through our Presenting Program.

Artists Space Gallery Finds a New Home, in TriBeCa


“Artists Space, the nonprofit gallery and pioneer of New York’s downtown art scene that was forced to move from its SoHo home last year when its landlord planned to build a penthouse on the building, has found a place to put down roots: 80 White Street, in TriBeCa. Jay Sanders, who joined Artists Space a month ago as its executive director and chief curator, announced on Wednesday that the gallery had signed a lease for the new location, which has roughly 8,000 square feet on two levels…Founded in 1972 as a pilot project for the New York State Council of the Arts to help emerging artists, Artists Space grew into a key player in the city’s contemporary art scene, both as a gallery and as a venue for talks and debates among artists and curators. It has shown major artists in the early stages of their careers, among them Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons and Barbara Kruger.” NYSCA continues to support Artists Space through our Visual Arts and Arts Education Programs.

Art Alive 2017

Buffalo Rising

“Each year, the community gets to take part in a stunning interactive display of creativity at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery… Art Alive empowers individuals and groups to come up with a tableaux that represents a work of art that is respective to the gallery. Each year, imaginative people of all ages come out of the woodwork to participate in this fabulous event. Visitors get a chance to walk around the outdoor exhibit site, viewing and analyzing the rooted performances…More than $1,000 in cash prizes is given to winning tableaux. Celebrity judges will select the Best Tableau from the Albright-Knox’s Collection or AK Public Art, the Handyman Award for Best Craftsmanship, and the Off-the-Beaten-Path Award for Most Unusual Entry. These awards will be given in each category (Grades K–8, Grades 9–12, and Adult/Family Group).” The event takes place June 3. NYSCA supports the Albright-Knox Art Gallery through our Museum and Regional Economic Development Council Programs.

Brooklyn Historical Society Launches DUMBO Satellite Museum


“The Brooklyn Historical Society now has not one but two museums to check out. A brand new satellite location in DUMBO is now open for visitors. The inaugural exhibit in the new space features historic photographs of the Brooklyn waterfront, from the industrial docks in Gowanus to the beaches at Coney Island. It’s also situated inside the Empire Stores building, which played its own role in 19th century Brooklyn history. ‘This area was called the walled city, because it was just a line of warehouses like this one. This building actually held coffee beans and jute and lindseed oil and all kinds of products from all over the world, and we’re going to get to tell those stories in this space,’ said Brooklyn Historical Society President Deborah Schwartz. The museum also offers unique views of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Manhattan Bridge and the East River. The new DUMBO location is open seven days a week. To learn more, check out brooklynhistory.org.” NYSCA supports the Brooklyn Historical Society through our Museum Program.

Queens Museum exhibit to feature the craziest plans for NYC that never happened

Time Out New York

“Midtown isn’t under a giant glass dome, but it could have (should have?) been. At the very least someone brought up the idea: Back in 1960, architectural visionary R. Buckminster Fuller proposed putting a geodesic dome measuring one mile high and 1.8 miles over a stretch of Manhattan running from 62nd to 22nd Streets. Its purpose? To keep the busiest part of the city not too hot and not too cold…Fuller’s dome was just one of the countless, ambitiously wacky schemes for New York—from a system of pneumatically-propelled elevated trains crisscrossing town to a silvery Guggenheim Branch in Lower Manhattan—dreamed up over the years. Any one of them would have drastically changed the city as we know if realized, but what if all of them had actually been built? That’s the premise of a show at the Queens Museum coming up in September…The museum has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $35,000 for ‘Never Built New York,’an exhibition that looks at ‘200 years of visionary architectural and urban designs that never came to be.’ A central feature of the show will be 70 miniature models of futuristic fantasies installed within the Museum’s renowned Panorama of the City of New York—among them, a 1930 tower for MoMA resembling stacked Jenga blocks and a state-of-the-art stadium for Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens.” NYSCA supports the Queens Museum through our Museum and Arts Education Programs.

Heal and toe: Dance Africa Festival celebrates ‘Healing Light of Rhythm’

Brooklyn Daily

“The country’s largest festival of African dance will return to the Brooklyn Academy of Music this month to celebrate its 40th anniversary. This year’s Dance Africa Festival, starting on May 26, has the theme ‘The Healing Light of Rhythm: Tradition and Beyond,’ [and] will honor both the past and the present, looking at the origins of traditional dances and also showcasing what is happening in the dance world now…This year’s show will feature a new twist — a collaborative performance between three dance companies, all of whom have performed at the Festival in previous years. The three groups — Bedford-Stuvesant’s Asase Yaa, Forces of Nature, and Illstyle and Peace Productions — will combine forces to present ‘The Healing Sevens,’ a multi-genre piece that combines of hip-hop, African, contemporary, and modern dances…The ‘healing’ portion of this year’s theme will be highlighted in a performance from Guinean dance group Wula Dance and Drum Ensemble, with a piece in response to lives lost or destroyed by violence.” NYSCA supports BAM through our Presenting and Electronic Media & Film Programs.


#NYSCASuccess: How Flushing Town Hall Cultivates Community

Flushing Town Hall in Queens. Photo by Shawn Choi.

A watercolor of a majestic tiger baring its teeth catches your eye as you walk through the Korean Art Gallery at Flushing Town Hall, but your ears lure you upstairs.

In the theater, a lilting Taiwanese pop song drifts into the soca beat of a Jamaican party hit, both peppered with handclaps and laughter as audience members abandon their seats to dance in front of the stage.

Between sets, a recorded sax wails on “The Man I Love,” and the scent of deep-fried samosas draws a line at the concession stand.

At most performing arts centers, this could be the scene of International Night, or some kind of special occasion.

But at Flushing Town Hall, it’s just a typical Friday evening.

“One goal of our programming is to surprise and delight audiences with unexpected combinations,” says Flushing Town Hall Deputy Director Sami Abu Shumays.

Located in Queens County, where more than 100 languages are spoken, Flushing Town Hall has become a model of inclusive programming, engaging local audiences and visitors by celebrating “global arts for a global community.”

A NYSCA grantee through our Presenting and State & Local Partnership Programs, FTH features local, immigrant, national and international artists, with a focus on populations from China, Korea, Latin America and South Asia. Within its historic 19th century landmark building, multidisciplinary offerings include classical, theater, dance, spoken word, world music, arts education, visual art, comedy and more. The venue also honors Queens as the “home of jazz” with monthly jam sessions, a 10-hour annual jazz festival, and season concerts.

Falu’s Bollywood Orchestra, 2016. Photo by Shawn Choi.

“We maintain a commitment to presenting a multiplicity of cultures and artistic disciplines, and work that we feel diverse audiences will connect to,” says Shumays.

Altogether, Flushing Town Hall serves more than 50,000 annually through performances, exhibitions, special events such as a Lunar New Year Celebration, and collaborations with institutions ranging from Carnegie Hall to The Moth. Programs are often unique to the venue, such as the Global Mashups series, which pairs dance lessons and music exploring different world traditions – earlier this month, Taiwan and Jamaica – featuring sets from each group and a joint jam session.

“We have found that as diverse as NYC is, many people still feel more comfortable within their own niches and cultural bubbles,” says Shumays. “We burst those bubbles spectacularly through our Global Mashups world music series!”

At the recent Mashup, when saxophonist-singer-composer Stephanie Chou asked how many audience members spoke Chinese, about a quarter of the hands in the audience went up – a little less than the number of fans of Jamaican music who joined in when Tribal Legacy took the stage for a Bob Marley cover.

Flushing Town Hall has figured out how to build the programming it needs – and how to compel its audiences to not just show up, but dive in.

This wouldn’t be a #NYSCASuccess story if we didn’t share: how do they do it?

At Flushing Town Hall, the Chinese Cultural Committee, made up of local residents, artists, and business leaders, advises on programming and contributes to multilingual outreach. FTH also advertises in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Urdu to ensure that language is not a barrier to attendance.

Recognizing that its local audiences – especially young audiences – have modest incomes, low-price tickets are often available, and teens always get in free.

Encouraging not just attendance but active engagement with the venue, the organization has significantly increased participatory and educational programs in recent years under the artistic direction of Ellen Kodadek.

“We believe deeply that the arts are for everyone, and that (active) participation in the arts is an essential part of the experience,” Shamuys said.

Calligraphy Workshop at Flushing Town Hall, 2014. Photo by Shawn Choi.

It’s a core part of the FTH mission to expand arts appreciation and awareness through these programs, but it also pays off – workshops have made it easier for families to attend other weekend programs, and visitors who attend jazz jams form the core of the audience for jazz concerts, too.

Participatory and otherwise, every program on Flushing Town Hall’s schedule is the result of in-depth research. A five-person programming team draws on firsthand knowledge, research into NYC and international artists, attendance at international booking conferences and festivals such as International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) and Le Trois Jours de Castelliers in Montreal, and networks such as the New York State Presenters Network.

Flushing Town Hall’s staff includes a trained folklorist with deep experience working with Latinx and Native American artists and communities and a long-time practicing musician in the NY jazz scene, and staff members devoted to the venue’s Cultural Committee.

Over years devoted to global arts events, the programming team has developed contacts that can offer recommendations and serve as experts in particular cultures.

“Every cultural tradition has its own standards, gatekeepers, and masters – and some knowledge of that landscape is necessary in order to make informed decisions as to which artists will best represent a particular culture, and which will most connect with local audiences,” says Shumays.

“Audiences can tell when programming decisions are superficial versus when they are based in a deep appreciation and respect for cultures and traditions – therefore, cultivating that depth on an organization’s programming team is essential.”

The good news, he adds, is that it can be learned.

“There is also no substitute for a deep curiosity about other cultures – go out and explore and learn as voraciously as you can!” he says.

You can start by checking out a Flushing Town Hall Global Mashup, Japan Meets Puerto Rico, on Queens Public Television. For more information about the program and Flushing Town Hall, visit flushingtownhall.org.

NYSCA in the News

This week, NYSCA grantees announce new leadership and a celebrity-led Poetry Walk, and an incubator of Tony-nominated talent gets its due.

The Birthplace of All Four 2017 Best Play Tony Nominees


“The New Dramatists honored [Paula] Vogel alongside ten-time Tony-winning producer Daryl Roth (who produced Vogel’s Indecent) for their outstanding contribution to theatre [at its annual luncheon.] Dedicated to the nurturing of promising playwrights, New Dramatists provides time, space, staff and financial resources to develop new work—and it’s paying off. All four of this year’s Best Play Tony nominees—Lynn Nottage for Sweat, Lucas Hnath for A Doll’s House, Part 2, J.T. Rogers for Oslo, and Vogel for Indecent—are alumni of New Dramatists…The institution is the birthplace of the careers of a multitude of playwrights because it serves as an ‘incubator’ of talent, as Hnath called it… ‘It’s an organization built to make us the leaders of our own artistic process,’ said Hnath. Added Rogers, ‘It really is the mothership of American playwriting.’ NYSCA supports New Dramatists through our Theatre Program.

Bill Murray to lead annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge


“Bill Murray and the Brooklyn Bridge: Two New York City icons, united by poetry. The 66-year-old actor will lead the annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge on June 12, which raises funds for Poets House, it was announced Monday. It’s an event Murray has rarely missed. ‘Bill came to us through [Poets House vice president] Frank Platt — they were neighbors,’ Poets House executive director Lee Briccetti told amNewYork on Monday…Briccetti said after the first pilgrimage across the bridge in 1996 the event became ‘an instant tradition.’ The walk, during which poetry is read under the bridge’s archways, is ‘incredibly powerful; reading poems about New York City in the very places they’re set,’ Briccetti said. Participation in the walk costs $250 and includes a dinner at 26 Bridge. Murray, who donated seed money for the Poets House library in the ’90s, will be among the honorees at the dinner. Poets House, now in its 30th year and based in Battery Park City, boasts a 70,000-volume library of poetry and last year saw 80,000 visitors walk through its doors.” NYSCA supports Poets House through our Literature Program.

Albany Symphony appoints new executive director

Albany Times-Union

“The Albany Symphony announced Friday morning that Anna Kuwabara, currently vice president for orchestra operations and facilities at the St Louis Symphony Orchestra, has been appointed executive director. The appointment, which takes effect July 3, will end more than two years without an executive director. The last, Lawrence J. Fried, left in early 2015 after only nine months in that position. In a statement, music director and conductor David Alan Miller praised Kuwabara’s ‘experience and her keen intelligence.’ Kuwabara, in turn, said she had been struck over the years ‘by the creativity and innovation’ of the Symphony and Miller and by local audiences who ‘are willing to be curious and open to what is new and different.’ Besides her work with the St. Louis Symphony, Kuwabara has also held administrative positions at the Harvard Business School, the Longy School of Music and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.” NYSCA supports the Albany Symphony through our Music Program and Regional Economic Development Council initiative.

Glimmerglass picks Owens as artistic adviser

Rome Sentinel

“The Glimmerglass Festival has appointed acclaimed bass-baritone Eric Owens as artistic adviser. As Artistic Advisor, Owens will consult closely with Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello and Music Director Joseph Colaneri on matters of Festival repertoire and casting and will serve as an ambassador for the company, which offers new productions of opera and musical theater, as well as concerts, lectures, a youth opera and more. He will perform roles on the mainstage during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.Known for his roles of both classic works and new music, Owens’s international career has brought him to major opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera and LA Opera to Royal Opera Covent Garden, English National Opera and more. Owens…served as the company’s 2012 and 2015 Artist in Residence, coaching and mentoring members of the Young Artists Program, the company’s apprenticeship for rising artists. Owens also serves as Chair of the company’s Artistic Advisory Board…In addition to his busy performance schedule, Owens has worked with young artists at the Merola Opera Program and Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program.  He also serves as a community ambassador at Lyric Opera of Chicago and on the Board of Trustees of both The Crossing Choir in Philadelphia and the Curtis Institute of Music.” NYSCA supports Glimmerglass through our Music Program.

A Museum Let 6 Awesome GIF Artists Decorate Their Elevators


“GIFs could become the new elevator music, thanks to an experimental installation at the Museum of the Moving Image. The GIF Elevator offers six top-tier animators and media artists the chance to install their work in the enclosed spaces between floors. New four-panel works by Lorna Mills, Mr. Div (Matt DiVito), Dain Fagerholm, Render Fruit (Clara Luzian), Paul Robertson, and Rafia Santana will plunge visitors into the worlds they’ve built over the years of GIF experimentation. Mill’s Yellowwhirlaway will inaugurate the series, running in the Astoria, Queens art museum from June 1 through July 30…This isn’t The Museum of the Moving Image’s first foray into GIF art. In 2012 they exhibited We Tripped El Hadji Diouf: The Story of a Photoshop Thread, which preserved, “One of the Web’s most ‘epic’ Photoshop threads,” depicting a Senegalese soccer player’s wipeout as if caused by Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat. They’ve also exhibited work by Evan Roth and had shows devoted to reaction GIFs and cat GIFs.” Museum of the Moving Image curator Jason Eppink: “The GIF is now an important site of cultural and artistic expression; an established and pervasive form defined in part by silence, brevity, shareability, and most importantly, the loop. The participating artists in this series of installations represent some of the most important and influential GIF makers today.” NYSCA supports the Museum of Moving Image through our Museum and Electronic Media & Film Programs.

NYSCA in the News

This week, NYSCA grantees demonstrate how art can be a powerful tool for addressing social issues and celebrate icons ranging from Michelangelo to Billie Holiday.

In The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Teens Speak Up By Singing Out


“The Brooklyn Youth Chorus is not your typical kids’ choir, singing folk-song arrangements and show tunes. It’s made up of over 600 kids, from second grade to the end of high school, from struggling neighborhoods to New York’s elite. Part of its mission is to give the kids a sense of purpose at a difficult time in life. The group has just released its first album, Black Mountain Songs, and is giving two high-profile concerts Friday and Saturday. Dianne Berkun Menaker founded the Brooklyn Youth Chorus 25 years ago, and she wants the kids to connect to the music they sing. So, she’s commissioned music from such rock musicians as Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry and The National’s Bryce Dessner…But for the concerts this weekend, Burkun Menaker wanted to give voice to her teenagers and their concerns. She asked her young singers what kinds of things they wanted to tackle musically in Silent Voices, the program they’re presenting this weekend at the Brooklyn Academy of Music — the topics that mattered to them as a racially, economically and culturally diverse group that comes from all over the city.” In response to the singers’ answers, commissions from composers such as Shara Nova will address topics such as race, gender, sexuality and ageism. NYSCA supports the Brooklyn Youth Chorus through our Arts Education Program.

Julia Bottoms-Douglas combats stereotypes with stark portraits

Buffalo News

“In October of 2015, a few dozen Buffalo artists and curators huddled in the community room of Buffalo Arts Studio to discuss diversity and elitism in the art world. Most panel discussions on these topics are preach-to-the-choir affairs that rarely produce concrete action. This one was different. Buffalo Arts Studio curator Shirley Verrico and director Alma Carrillo gathered actionable intelligence at that meeting. They asked themselves what more they could do to grow their circle. And last year, they launched a multi-year collaboration with the progressive advocacy group Open Buffalo to highlight and fund the work of emerging local artists from underrepresented communities. The first results of that project, a series of remarkable oil portraits of black men, women and children by painter Julia Bottoms-Douglas, are now on view in Buffalo Arts Studio’s fifth-floor space in the Trimain Building. They are a testament to the untapped talent of Buffalo’s arts community and the power of a small organization to confront a seemingly intractable problem…The show, “Tinted: A Visual Statement on Color, Identity and Representation,” is a bravura attempt to combat the stereotypical images of black bodies that saturate the media landscape.” NYSCA supports the Buffalo Arts Studio through our Visual Arts, Special Arts Services and Facilities Programs.

Seneca Falls Canal Fest Secures Glass Barge

Seneca Daily

“The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) will bring its GlassBarge to this year’s Canal Fest. This all-new, world-class performance venue brings floating Hot Glass Demos to the Museum’s New York State neighbors along the Erie Canal and its connected waterways. The 2nd Annual Seneca Falls Canal Fest will be held July 7th through the 9th on both sides of the Seneca Falls Canal Harbor. In Seneca Falls, The CMoG will pay tribute to the role of women in New York State who shaped our nation. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in New York State, GlassBarge will deploy an all-female glassblowing team to the Seneca Falls Canal Fest. Along with the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and the National Women’s Hall of Fame, The CMoG will take the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the artistry and skill of women glassmakers, who make up more than 50 percent of the glassmakers at the Museum.” NYSCA supports CMoG’s GlassBarge through our Regional Economic Development Council Program as part of our Erie Canal Bicentennial focus are, and also provides general support to CMoG through our Museum

The Met Museum Announces A ‘Once-In-A-Lifetime’ Michelangelo Exhibit


“Calling it a ‘once-in-a-lifetime exhibition,’ the Metropolitan Museum of Art just announced a late 2017 show of Michelangelo’s sketches and his ‘powerful imagery and dazzling technical virtuosity.’ Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer will run from November 13th through February 12th, 2018, and will feature 150 of the Renaissance master’s drawings, as well as three marble sculptures. The exhibit will include ‘his earliest painting, his wood architectural model for a chapel vault, the complete series of masterpiece drawings he created for his friend Tommaso de’Cavalieri and a monumental cartoon for his last fresco in the Vatican Palace.’ According to the press release, the pieces were ‘selected from 54 public and private collections in the United States and Europe, [and] the exhibition will examine Michelangelo’s rich legacy as a supreme draftsman and designer.’” NYSCA supports the Metropolitan Museum through our Museum and Presenting Programs.

Jazz Legend Billie Holiday to be Honored at One-Night-Only Apollo Show


“It’s showtime for Lady Day. The famed Apollo Theater will host a one-night-only concert spectacular honoring jazz legend Billie Holiday on May 16. The event will showcase 10 different acts, including singers and dancers, who will cover to the iconic singer’s discography, the theater said. Holiday got her start in Harlem and performed at the iconic theater at age 19, before she was propelled into stardom, according to The New York Times. The event will be hosted by radio and television personality Bevy Smith. The performers include jazz singer Lizz Wright, singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster, singer Bettye LaVette, among many others. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform an updated piece, called “Portrait of Billie,” which originally premiered in 1959.” NYSCA supports the Apollo Theater through our Music, Presenting, and Regional Economic Development Council Programs and Alvin Ailey through our Dance, Special Arts Services and Facilities Programs.

Drama League Launches First-Ever Summer Professional Theatre Intensive


“The Drama League has announced the launch of its first-ever pre-professional training program for college-aged actors and directors. The week-long workshop will employ Broadway and Off-Broadway teaching artists, who will help prepare aspiring young actors and directors for a career in the theatre industry. The workshop will be held at The Drama League Center in New York City, as well as at Stump Sprouts Retreat Center in Hawley, Massachusetts. The program will kick off with a Professional Industry Day in New York City, which will consist of panels and seminars with professional artists and producers, before taking in a Broadway or Off-Broadway performance. The following day, students will head to Hawley. During the private retreat, participants will take part in Master Workshops including Classic Text Approaches, and The Audition Room (From Both Sides of the Table), as well as classes specific to the actor and director programs. At the conclusion of the week, students will apply the techniques and approaches learned to rehearse and stage site-specific scenes of classic theatre.” NYSCA supports the Drama League through our Theatre Program.