Queens Borough Board Budget Hearing

David Johnston

FY17 Queens Borough Board Budget Hearing
Queens Borough Hall
120-55 Queens Blvd, Room 200
Monday January 25, 2016

Budget Testimony: David Johnston, EtM Executive Director

Since 1982, Exploring the Metropolis (EtM) has focused on solving the workspace needs of New York’s performing artists. Currently, we administer the EtM Composers’ Residency, funded by Con Edison now in its seventh year, and the EtM Choreographer + Composer Residencies in Partnership with the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. For these programs, artists receive free workspace and conduct a free public program in cooperation with their host facility.

The EtM Con Edison Composers’ Residency has supported more than 40 composers in the last 7 years, providing them with more than $300,000 worth of no-cost rehearsal space and cash support. In addition, EtM has provided more than $60,000 worth of support to NYC’s nonprofit cultural and community centers to maximize their space usage, and supported more than 50 free public programs which have reached hundreds of audience members in New York City, with many in Queens.

For this year’s EtM Con Edison Composers’ Residency, we are offering five NYC-based composers six months of free rehearsal space in a community/cultural facility plus a stipend of $2,500. Two of the residencies will take place in Queens.

For the seventh consecutive year, we are partnering with Flushing Town Hall, and we are happy to announce a new partnership with the Queens Museum. This spring, we will present four free public programs in Jamaica and one at Flushing Town Hall.

In 2014, with support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the David Rockefeller Fund, we released our report, “Queens Performing Artists & Workspace.” For this report, we interviewed local artists and arts leaders, and received valuable assistance from local elected officials. I would like to thank the Office of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Deputy Borough President Melva Miller, Director of Cultural Affairs and Tourism Nayelli Valencia, the Office of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Susie Tannenbaum, Terri Osborne, Councilmember Costa Constantinides and his staff and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, staff, and his Chief of Staff Matthew Wallace.

Our Queens Workspace Report identified Jamaica as an area of great untapped potential. Building on this research, we launched the EtM Choreographer + Composer Residencies in Partnership with the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. For this program, we have secured funding from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, DCA and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. EtM is proud to support the Jamaica NOW Action Plan, and we are proud to participate in the arts and cultural committee of the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council. We are also grateful for the support of the Regional Economic Development Council, New York State Council on the Arts and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in these efforts.

In a recent survey sent to our artists outreach list, a majority indicated interest in workspace opportunities in the Rockaways. Based on this and discussions with local stakeholders, we are planning a composers’ residency for early 2017, in the Rockaways. We are submitting a proposal to the DCA and will be announcing a host facility soon.

We are asking for expense funding from the Queens Borough President’s Office and City Council to grow our Jamaica programs in FY17. I thank you for your time and we look forward to continuing to build partnerships and collaborations to serve the cultural community.


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