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June in Jackson Hts. nears

Last year City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) created June in Jackson Heights, a series of art shows, music performances and a restaurant week aimed at showcasing what the neighborhood has to offer. For its second year, Dromm said there will be even more to see, hear and eat.

“We conveyed a connection between arts and business, arts and economic development,” Dromm said.

The councilman was joined by artists and restaurateurs in the community last Thursday at a preview for the monthlong showcase.

Dromm said last year June in Jackson Heights featured a gallery in a then-empty storefront at 86-08 37th Ave., live music outside the Jackson Heights Post Office at 78-02 37th Ave. and an exhibit at PS 69 at 77-02 37th Ave., in addition to a restaurant week. The gallery alone saw 1,000 visitors and the June in Jackson Heights website welcomed 5,000 visitors during the course of a month. This year there will be more exhibits and restaurants participating.

“Events like this help raise the visibility of artists to one another,” said Ari Laura Kreith of Theater 167, a Jackson Heights-based performing arts group named after the number of languages spoken in the community.

The first major event this year is free Indian dances and crafts June 4 at 12:30 p.m. at the Jackson Heights Library at 35-51 81st St. The next day, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the 19th-annual Queens Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade and Multicultural Festival will be held in the neighborhood. Theatre 167 will host a musical at PS 69, “How I Was Radicalized,” June 10 at 8 p.m. The Jackson Repertory Theater will hold “Dances for a New Diagonal” at the same location the next day at 8 p.m.

Hector Canonge, who headed up the gallery last year, said there will be another show this year at a place still to be determined. He said last year’s exhibition featured art at a professional level despite the small budget.

“We did it with nothing,” Canonge said.

Consuelo Quintero, who owns Natives Restaurant at 82-22 Northern Blvd. in Jackson Heights, said participating in the restaurant week last year was “tremendous.” She distributed 600 coupons for her restaurant within 24 hours.

“That wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have the exposure to the whole Jackson Heights community,” she said.

Deepak Ballaney of Delhi Heights, at 37-66 74th St., which hosted the preview, praised the week, which will run from June 20 through June 25.

“It’s a great thing to know we are doing a restaurant week in Jackson Heights,” he said.

Dromm said the event has all been done for less than $4,000. He said funding for cultural institutions is important even in a time of fiscal crisis.

“If we don’t have cultural institutions, we’re certainly going to see people leaving the city,” he said.

For more information, go to juneinjacksonheights.com.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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