FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM MARCH 25, 2022 • THE QUEENS COURIER 34
Queens arts and cultural organizations coming together to host monthlong festival
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
Several Queens-based arts and cultural
organizations are coming together to host
a monthlong celebration highlighting the
borough’s culture and creative diversity in
The Queens Rising festival will partner
with many arts organizations, multipurpose
venues and galleries in Queens to present
dozens of multidisciplinary performances,
exhibitions and cultural events.
The initiative arose from an Arts Advisory
Board meeting of the Kupferberg Center
for the Arts, where leading individuals
representing various Queens arts and
culture organizations gathered to form a
planning committee. The larger Queens
artistic and cultural community were invited
to join various working groups to help with
Queens Rising’s programming, operations,
marketing and fundraising.
Participating organizations will present
work that highlights the immense variety
of traditions and cultural expressions that
make Queens one of the most diverse regions
in the world, a borough whose resiliency
and strength will overcome any present
— or future — challenges.
While Queens Rising’s core programming
will take place within Queens, the
celebration will be extended throughout
New York City, with arts and cultural
institutions in other boroughs
showcasing Queens-based artists and
“As the most diverse place on the
planet, Queens is rich with an arts and
culture community that ref lects that
diversity and its unmatched beauty. I’m
thrilled Queens Rising will kick off in the
summertime to welcome visitors to the
‘World’s Borough,’” said Queens Borough
President Donovan Richards Jr. “Now more
than ever, it’s important to showcase the
resilience and creativity of our artists and
cultural institutions — because even in the
darkest days of the pandemic, culture never
closed — as we work to rebuild our economy
and come back stronger.”
As Northwell Health has signed on as a lead
sponsor of the festival, Lorraine Chambers
Lewis, executive director of Long Island Jewish
Forest Hills, said while they were at the
epicenter of COVID, the hospital was able to
come through with the help of the community
that is more resilient than ever.
“As a community hospital that not only
serves the health care needs of Queens but
also draws the majority of our staff from
within the diverse neighborhoods that
make up our borough, LIJ Forest Hills is
Queens,” Chambers said. “We’re so thrilled
to be part of Queens Rising NYC to celebrate
the rich tapestry of arts, culinary and
creative communities that make our
borough so unique.”
Karesia Batan, of the Queensboro
Dance Festival, said they’re excited to
be part of the multidisciplinary initiative
to celebrate all of Queens together.
“We envision this to be an unprecedented
way that large and small
arts groups in our borough work
together, and that Queens Rising
will be a wonderful visibility for the
many unsung cultures and stories of
our artists here that will be accessible
for everyone to experience,” Batan said.
Leonard Jacobs, of the Jamaica Center for
Arts and Learning, said they’re honored to
be among the organizations involved in the
Queens Rising initiative from the moment
of its inception.
“We couldn’t be prouder of what it represents
to the arts, entertainment and culture
sector. Because it is a fact: Queens is rising.
Collectively and individually, we’re giving
the long overdue recognition that our
borough, dynamic and diverse, absolutely
deserves,” Jacobs said.
Courtesy of Queens Rising
Queens Theatre gala to honor pair of local residents
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
Aft er canceling its events the last two years
due to the pandemic, Queens Theatre is
prepared to host its annual gala in-person on
Monday, May 2, honoring two Queens leaders
and featuring a memorial tribute to late Queens
Borough President Claire Shulman.
Queens Th eatre will honor southeast Queens
resident Melva Miller, chief executive offi cer of
the Association for A Better New York (ABNY)
and Daniel Zausner, chief operating offi cer of the
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“We are excited for the opportunity to
honor these two outstanding leaders. We had
planned to honor Melva and Danny in spring
2020, before the shutdown, and are grateful
that we are now in a place where we can gather
and celebrate together,” said Taryn Sacramone,
executive director of Queens Th eatre.
Th e gala will begin with a 6 p.m. cocktail
and dinner reception, followed by a 7:30 p.m.
program of honors and performances and
concludes with an 8:30 p.m. dessert reception.
Th e celebratory event will include a program
of honors and performances, including one by
the extraordinary dance company Hiplet Ballerinas,
and will raise funds to support Queens
Th eatre’s ongoing performances, community
engagement and education programs.
During the evening, Queens Th eatre will
present a memorial tribute to Shulman.
“Th is will be our fi rst gala since the passing
of Claire Shulman — a singular champion of
culture in Queens and a dear friend to Queens
Th eatre. We are looking forward to recognizing
her in our main stage, which is named for her
– the Claire Shulman Th eater,” Sacramone said.
Miller, who has led ABNY’s census initiative
for an accurate count of New York, has dedicated
her life to community development through
equitable economic growth, creative organizing
and inclusive stakeholder participation. She
started her community work in 1993 when she
began working with children using the arts as a
tool to promote civic responsibility while fostering
positive imagery of youth in her community.
Th rough this work, Miller used dance, music
and artistic expression as a conduit for community
empowerment, collective consciousness
and individual pride. She later became
the founding executive director of the Sutphin
Boulevard Business Improvement District
(BID). While leading this community-based
not-for-profi t organization, she also served
as project director of the Downtown Jamaica
Cultural District formed to support the artistic
development of downtown Jamaica.
In 2007, she joined the Queens borough
president’s offi ce as a key adviser and provided
assistance to small businesses throughout
Queens. She was later promoted to director of
economic development, and then in 2015, to
deputy Queens borough president.
Zausner is the chief operating offi cer at the
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
He fi rst joined the USTA in August 2001 aft er
accumulating 17 years of experience in the
sports and entertainment industry.
In his current role, Zausner is responsible for
managing and directing all aspects of the NTC,
overseeing the year-round programming held at
the facility, and for instituting and implementing
a strategic vision for the long-term sustainability
and growth of one of the largest public
tennis facilities in the world and the home of the
U.S. Open Tennis Championships.
Additionally, he manages all operations for
the world’s highest-attended annual sporting
event, the U.S. Open, including food
and beverage, merchandise, suites and hospitality,
security, guest services, broadcast
operations, sponsor activation and construction
trades. He also seeks out opportunities
to expand the use of the venue for additional
sports and entertainment-related events.
During his tenure, he has increased U.S.
Open sales revenues across multiple disciplines.
He has overseen the growth in ticket sales from
$45 million to $140 million, boosting attendance
40%; increasing food and beverage sales
from $8 million to more than $32 million; and
increasing merchandise sales from $6 million
to $18 million.
Zausner directed the design, construction and
New York City approval process for the NTC’s
$650 million visionary transformation that included
upgrades to all 42.5 acres of the site over a
fi ve-year period and designed and developed the
$150 million master plan for the USTA Billie Jean
King National Tennis Center site.
Previously, Zausner led Ogden Entertainment,
a worldwide leader of venue management,
food and beverage and related support services
to arenas, stadiums, convention and exhibition
centers, amphitheaters and other public assembly
facilities, and spent more than 11 years at
Metropolitan Entertainment, one of the nation’s
largest concert promoters. He sits on the board
of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of NYC,
is the chairperson of the Flushing Meadows Corona
Park Alliance, and has been a long-serving
trustee of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
Photos courtesy of Daniel Zausner and ABNY
(Left) Melva Miller, chief executive offi cer of the Association for a Better New York; (Right) Daniel Zausner,
chief operating offi cer of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center