QUEENS_MAR

Queens Art Express is a spring arts festival of exhibitions, events, performances, and great places to eat in the vibrant cultural communities of Queens NY — along the route of the No. 7 train and beyond. The event is a project of the Queens Council on the Arts.

This year, in addition to promoting cultural activity across the borough, we’ll also commission 12 creators to produce new collaborative works that imagine a world where artists remix public policy, in response to the question, “What If We Made a New World?” That initiative will be presented at three partnering galleries: JCAL in Jamaica, Artists Wanted in Long Island City, and Crossing Art in Flushing.

The festival will also feature a special dining promotion called The Moveable Feast that pairs local artists with local restaurants to produce short videos on neighborhood hot spots.

QAX 2012 is co-developed and produced by marketing strategist Brian Tate of The Tate Group. Brian discusses the genesis of the “New World” initiative and the concept of collaboration at its core:

BRIAN: (QCA executive director) Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer and I believe that real social change requires making a seat for artists at the tables where public policy is discussed and decided. She’s also interested in building what she calls a Creative Citizens Class, where artists play an essential role in defining our political and socioeconomic priorities. With those concepts in mind, Hoong Yee, (QCA managing director) Lynn Lobell and I began to develop the “New World” initiative.

ARTPLACE: How did you go about bringing those concepts to life?

BRIAN: Three elements. The first was the 48-Hour Film Project, an old client of mine. They come to a town and gather dozens of filmmakers. Each filmmaker brings her own writer, actors, techs, whoever she needs to make a movie. Each team is assigned a genre, and given 48 hours to make a short film. I’ve always loved the urgency and teamwork of that concept. So we began to think of teams or artists, across disciplines, working toward a common goal. The second element was an old Sprint-Nextel ad campaign, “What If Roadies Ran the World?” A new problem-solving perspective on familiar situations is always a turn-on. So we began to imagine an alternate universe where artists run the world. The last spark came from a music video by the artist Feist, “My Moon My Man,” in which she transforms an airport walkway into a performance setting. This triggered the thought, what if artists not only decided Transportation Policy but created the airports: what would they look like?

From those seeds grew “What If We Made a New World?” We then researched and selected 12 creators, and divided them into three teams to develop new collaborative work that imagines a world where artists remix public policy on Housing, Healthcare and the Economy. What would the banks look like in that place, the hospitals, the public housing? What would they sound like, what would happen there?

ARTPLACE: How have the artists responded to this concept?

BRIAN: They love it. It’s a creative challenge with sociopolitical meaning, and it’s a chance to collaborate with new creators, across disciplines, in a way that can really engage audiences. Everyone’s excited.

ARTPLACE: Are there other collaborators involved?

BRIAN: The galleries where we’ll present these installations/performances/exhibitions are essential to the QAX team, because each event has to make sense for that space — and its surrounding neighborhood.

ARTPLACE: How do the neighborhoods fit in?

BRIAN: First, we want to bring value to all Queens communities by promoting the range of dynamic cultural activity happening there. Queens arts venues can submit their events now at our “QAX Coming Soon” page. Second, in the three neighborhoods where we’ll present the “New World” initiative, we want residents to bring their own voices to this discussion of housing, health care and the economy. We also want the involvement of artists, art lovers, and policymakers from throughout New York City. If we can gather those audiences for an arts-based conversation around personal action and collective change, we’ll be that much closer to the goal of a Creative Citizens Class.

ARTPLACE: What are the challenges of this collaborative approach?

BRIAN: Ha! It’s all a challenge. But we have a goal, we have a plan, we have great partners, and we’re adaptable to change. So we think we can make some good happen.

ARTPLACE: And the rewards?

BRIAN: Collaboration is always its own reward. It’s mysterious and exciting. It’s the new world.

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