Using the Arts to Build a Resilient Community

Our “Global Arts for Global Kids” virtual series returned in early October. Each week, students can explore Indian dance and yoga, world drumming in English and Spanish, toy theater, Mexican folkloric dances and their wardrobes, Jazz dance, shadow theater, dances from Africa’s Ivory coast, fairy tales, Chinese dance and culture, and how to create mini art museums.

This is all part of our mission to present global arts to Queens, even as we all limit our travel amid the pandemic. Our master teaching artists lead free virtual lessons and provide post-video enrichment activities. There are also low-cost “Meet the Artist” or “Jam with the Artists” workshops opportunities that can be scheduled anytime for schools and families.

Over the last six months, Flushing Town Hall, like many other cultural institutions, has pivoted to virtual platforms and so we still offer assemblies – for classrooms or even whole schools or family groups – with Matinecock tribal leaders (the first people of Queens), Andean musicians, and Korean dancers and musicians, among others.

Recognizing that artists across our borough and city are struggling at this time, we charge affordable fees primarily to help support them. As we all face the anxieties of an uncertain future, we have provided a community platform for people to artistically express themselves.

We launched an outdoor exhibition on our Northern Boulevard fence where anyone can submit their artwork to process this profound moment, whether it is grief or hope or honoring those lost or harmed not only to COVID-19, but as a result of racial or social injustice, or to thank essential workers and healthcare providers for their efforts to heal.

The art exhibition, “Call and Response: Grief, Resiliency and Hope,” already has received more than two dozen entries of art and poetry and remains up through mid-October. We encourage teachers, parents, and students to submit their artwork, too. Visit for details.

We live in unprecedented times. Amid the pandemic, arts education organizations such as Flushing Town Hall have adapted to continue to serve those who have relied on us to connect artistically, socially and emotionally. Flushing Town Hall believes in the power of the arts and culture to process this traumatic moment, restore joy and build resiliency.

We are grateful to our incredible students and families who are bravely breaking new ground with us. Together we are rebuilding a more resilient, inspired, and courageous community.

Gabrielle M. Hamilton is director of Education and Public Programs at Flushing Town Hall.

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