SLA to vote on Knockdown Center license

The State Liquor Authority is scheduled to vote on the Knockdown Center's liquor and cabaret license May 6.
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One community’s art is another’s pornography.

The Knockdown Center hosted a lecture series that included a talk by a School of Visual Arts professor who photographed porn sets along with some of her images April 25.

But the 52-19 Flushing Ave. art center did not seem to fit the surrounding Maspeth community’s sense of art.

“That was not the type of event we were told would be happening at that location. They came up with a lot of nice-sounding things and it was supposed to be things people in the neighborhood would enjoy, but that’s not what we’re getting,” said Christina Wilkinson, a member of the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together civic organization.

Tyler Myers, manager of Knockdown Center, said it was disingenuous to describe Nitke’s talk as a porn event. He said it was an installment of The Lost Lectures, a model devised in London and Berlin where ticket purchasers are sent the details of where and who will be speaking a few days before the lecture.

Musician Dev Hynes, writer Chorie Sicha, scientist Marc Abrahams, filmmaker Deidre Schoo and transgender model and activist Amanda Lepore also gave lectures.

Maspeth was on edge following a delay in the state Liquor Authority’s decision on the Knockdown Center’s liquor and cabaret license last week, but the lecture series seemed to only exacerbate the neighborhood.

Knockdown Center bills itself as an art center seeking to capture the momentum it has generated while hosting events in the former glass factory with temporary permits. It initially applied for a public access certificate and liquor and cabaret license to serve up to 5,000 people.

But an attorney for Knockdown Center suggested it may be willing to trim its capacity limit during a recent Liquor Authority meeting.

Community Board 5, the COMET civic and the Juniper Park Civic Association have lobbied against the applications because they believed Knockdown Center’s appeal to young party-goers overshadows its focus on the arts.

After close to half an hour of discussion April 22, the SLA decided to give Knockdown Center another week to submit a security plan and other paperwork.

The deadline was set a week before the May 6 meeting, when the SLA plans to take up Knockdown Center’s application to ensure that civic groups and CB 5 have time to review and respond to new material.

The morning after the submission deadline passed, Wilkinson said COMET had not received paperwork and CB 5 said it was still requesting any material that may have been submitted.

According to a video of the meeting, the SLA said it denied temporary liquor permits for rapper M.I.A.’s concerts scheduled at Knockdown Center May 8 and May 9.

But Myers said the arts center may be able to acquire consent to serve alcohol during the upcoming shows when the SLA weighs its permanent application.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at

Posted 12:00 am, May 4, 2014
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