Flushing Town Hall held its 39th Anniversary Gala on Thursday, June 7th, honoring Howard Graf, Graf & Lewent Architects, LLP, 1st annual Creative Design and Architecture Award; President Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, Queens College, CUNY; and, 9P Community Volunteers.
The annual benefit supports Flushing Town Hall’s annual arts and cultural programs that serve over 56,000 people annually, city-wide, of which over 18,000 are students, families, and seniors. The festive celebration began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in Flushing Town Hall’s outdoor garden, as guests were greeted by the Shinbone Alley Stilt Band.
Among the attendees were former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, New York State Assembly Member Ron Kim, New York City Council Member Peter Koo, New York City Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, and representatives for Congressmember Grace Meng, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.
In welcome the audience at the start of the indoor program, Ellen Kodadek, Executive and Artistic Director at Flushing Town Hall, described the historic venue’s deep commitment to providing global arts to a global community. “Cultures from all over the globe are welcome here on equal footing,” Ms. Kodadek said, adding “Celebrating diverse cultures is not just important but also fun.”
Presenting Flushing Town Hall’s first-ever Creative Design and Architecture Award to Howard Graf, a Flushing Town Hall Board Member and former Board President, former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman noted Mr. Graf’s staunch commitment to restoring Flushing Town Hall. “Look at this gorgeous building. It is a landmark and it is worthy of all the people that supported it and all the programs that happen in this building,” she said. “There are people like Howard in this borough, and that’s the reason we have so many wonderful things we have in Queens. Howard was really a superstar!”
Graf, in accepting the award, said,“Exposing the Queens community to the arts is what the Flushing Council does every year, every month, every day. Please continue to help them any way you can.”
A second award was presented by Flushing Town Hall Board Vice President Veronica Y. Tsang to 9P Community Volunteers, under the leadership of Tai Wang, WAC Lighting. In accepting the award, DouglasLeesaid, “Volunteering comes with no fame. Why do we do it? 9P is a family and we feel good working with each other serving the community, and that is the 9P spirit.”
The third award of the evening was presented by Flushing Town Hall Board President James S. J. Liao to Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, President of Queens College, CUNY. Said President Matos, “This is really an honor that goes to Queens College, that goes to the partnership we’ve had with Flushing Town Hall… for us, it’s a phenomenal partnership.”
Flushing Town Hall also presented a surprise award to GeorgianaReese-Benatti for her longstanding support of the institution. The evening’s joyful atmosphere was illustrated by performances throughout the evening, including the Queens College Jazz Combo and Spanglish Fly (which recently returned to Flushing Town Hall to participate in two of the season’s five, popular Global Mashup presentations).