BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Belly dancing and Mexican violin shook the Astoria Library steps Monday afternoon for the kick off of Lincoln Center’s library performance series.
Lincoln Center Local, a series of one-hour musical and theatrical performances by renowned artists, will take place at libraries across the Borough from July 19 to Aug. 20. These free performances will range from American musical to flamenco to Cajun folk, and each will include an educational portion.
“It gives our customers an opportunity to attend performances that they may not be able to afford or travel to in Lincoln Center,” said coordinator of adult services at Queens Library, Karen Vermut.
For Doris Jones, programs assistant at Queens Library, the importance of the program is its emphasis on diverse performances.
“We find that people are more likely to let those barriers down and to really openly engage with other people. And hopefully what happens is it translates to them taking out our books,” Jones said.
According to Hillary McAndrew Plate of Lincoln Center Educational and Community Partnerships, there has been an uptick in library card registrations in the last few years that Lincoln Center Local has been held.
This library performance series is unique among Lincoln Center outbound programs in that the community helps curate the lineup by voting for their favorite artists. The ensemble with the most votes wins a free encore performance at Lincoln Center, which is live streamed to select library branches.
This season’s encore performance winner, Mexican violin virtuosos the Villalobos Brothers, had Monday’s audience stamping and clapping even in the midday heat.
Astoria resident Iris Blitt said she tries to take advantage this and all free library programs.
“Right now I’m out of work, so having a free program helps a lot,” Blitt said. “It’s enjoyable, you get exercise, you meet new people. It’s really good.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who allocated $10,000 in discretionary funding for the library performance series, spoke at the opening to both celebrate the Lincoln Center and Queens Library partnership, as well as to push for full six-day public library service.
Lincoln Center Live performances will also take place in Brooklyn throughout the summer. For a full lineup, visit about.lincolncenter.org/LCLocal.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.