Spreading Holiday Cheer At Jamaica Station

Staff Writer

In an effort to spread the holiday cheer to the neighborhood, Greg Mays, president and founder of A Better Jamaica, started a new initiative to bring musical performances to the bustling Jamaica train station.

Earlier this year, A Better Jamaica created a new program, the Jamaica Arts Council, which aims to bring the arts to community residents. Ultimately, the nonprofit hopes to spin off the effort to create a separate organization.

 A new initiative is starting up to bring musical performances to the Jamaica train station. Photo by Ira Cohen

A new initiative is starting up to bring musical performances to the Jamaica train station.
Photo by Ira Cohen

According to Mays, the series of performances is modeled after Music Under New York – a program of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that schedules musical shows at busy subway stations.

“The Jamaica station was not a designated MUNY station,” Mays explained. “I was going around and seeing these different musicians across the City and I began to think, why don’t we have any musicians at Jamaica Center playing on a regular station?”

Inspired by what he saw, Mays decided to bring the MUNY concept to Jamaica, using JAC as his platform. The holiday-themed initiative is the first program sponsored by A Better Jamaica’s JAC.

Much like MUNY, JAC held auditions for artists interested in participating.  The auditions, held last week at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center and Joe’s Music Center, brought out 10 artists, eight of which were selected to perform.

Each of the selected artists will perform Christmas songs during two 45-minute sets on their designated days. The performances are held at the Jamaica train station from 5:15 to 7:15 from Dec. 20 through Dec. 30. The artists, however, will not perform on Christmas day and Sundays.

“The purpose is to spread holiday cheer. The mission of the Arts Council is to bubble up the arts to the surface,” Mays said. “A lot of arts happen in Jamaica and tend to be in churches – a lot of folks go to churches but a lot of folks don’t, so we wanted to make sure that everyone has access to the arts.”

“If I see smiles on people’s faces, then I will have accomplished my mission of bringing a little holiday joy and cheer to folks,” he added.

Reach Natalia Kozikowska at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123 or or @nkozikowska.