New Artist Coalition Wants More Creative Space

BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Staff Writer

At a time when many local artists are finding themselves priced out of living and working space, one creative coalition hopes to bring them more opportunities, tables to work on and walls to hang their work.

Recreate Queens, led by resident Nancy Kleaver, was conceived late last year through a conversation with Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside). According to Kleaver, Van Bramer suggested building a community arts and learning center.

“We took that charge pretty seriously,” Kleaver said. “What the artists that I’m working with are saying is, ‘hey, I want my arts company to thrive here, but I literally have no space to produce my work.’”

According to Kleaver, Recreate Queens has been actively searching for a site and already has their eye on one option.

However, Kleaver noted that Recreate Queens was also formed more broadly to bring artists together and expand arts opportunities throughout the area, with activities and events such as the crafts fair they will hold in partnership with Sunnyside Shines.

This free event will run on July 26 as part of the annual Summer Strolls series, on 46th Street under the Sunnyside arch.

According to Rachel Thieme of Sunnyside Shines, more than 500 people attended last year’s craft fair. The event is made possible through the Dept. of Transportation’s Weekend Walks program.

Recreate Queens is developing a number of other projects, with an ultimate goal of securing capital funding for space and projects within a year. The group has also partnered with the urban studies department at Queens College to study community needs for creative learning, such as how to attract and retain artists in the area, and which students do not have access to arts education programming.

“It’s about advocating, coming together and coming up with a plan, and being ready to jump on any opportunity that comes our way,” Kleaver said.

Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, jstrawbridge@queenstribune.com or @JNStrawbridge.