Van Bramer Presents Artist Panel At MMI
Key figures in theater, dance and film came to the Museum of the Moving Image (MMI) in Astoria on May 21 to participate in a special three panel discussion about the importance of the arts and the role it will play in the future of New York City.
Hosted by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the event, Culture Vision NYC, Envisioning a City Sustained by Culture and the Arts, featured a main panel that included Academy Award nominated actress Sigourney Weaver, opera performer Lauren Flanigan, film producer Warrington Hudlin and modern dancer Arthur Aviles.
The event began with a cello performance by Miles Norman, student at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.
Each panelist gave their response to the main topic, What role do artists play in creating a culturally sustained city?
Each panelist tried to express the importance of art in the city and the need to make more artists come here from other places.
“Art is like food,” Weaver said. “Whether it be acting, signing or filmmaking, creative people will always have to satisfy this need.”
According to Flanigan, who has performed in more than 100 different roles for leading opera companies, the five boroughs are a beacon for artists from around the world. The Grammy nominee described how hard it was for her in the beginning as a struggling artist in the city.
“Let’s face it, it’s hard finding roles and you got to still eat and pay rent,” she said. “But the determination and countless resources for artists in this great city forge a type of city that has a high cultural awareness.”
Choreographer Aviles, co-founder of The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD) located in Hunts Point told the audience that a culturally sustained city needs people to not be afraid of expressing themselves.
“If you have something to say, say it loud, say it bold and always be proud,” he said.
Hudlin, producer of such films as Bebe’s Kids and House Party, hopes to see a more culturally diverse landscape in theater, which he felt, is sometimes lacking in representing different cultures from around the world.
“Western Queens is the centerpiece of art, theater and film production,” Van Bramer said. “It is panel meetings like this that allows us to engage the community in serious thought of advancing and sustaining the arts in Queens.”
MMI Executive Director Carl Goodman was also present for the event and a featured panelist.
“The city’s artistic landscape is always expanding and we want to be right at the forefront of that movement, especially here in Queens,” he said.