Van Bramer allocates funding for cultural programs in parks

The Sunnyside-based Hip to Hip Theatre are among several cultural programs that will receive community grants to help program in neighborhood parks.
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Jason and Joy Marr, residents of Sunnyside Gardens, will bring performances of Shakespeare to parks around Queens for the tenth summer of their Hip to Hip Theatre Company.

This year they will enjoy some extra funding as City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) announced the allocation of $24,000 in community grants for arts education workshops and cultural programs in his district’s parks.

Hip to Hip Theatre, The Hunters Point Park Conservancy, the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation and the Smiling Hogshead Ranch have been selected to receive one grant of $6,000 each for cultural programming at parks in Astoria, Long Island City, Hunters Point, Sunnyside and Dutch Kills.

“This dedicated funding will open access to our spectacular parks and expand cultural programming in neighborhoods throughout the 26th District,” Van Bramer said. “Every child, family and senior deserves direct access to the great work that is being done by cultural groups here in western Queens. This parks initiative will empower community groups and provide local artists with the essential resources they need to thrive here in Queens.”

Hip to Hip Theatre will further develop its children’s program “Kids & the Classic” with the funding.

“We are thrilled that our mission of providing free, family friendly, professional theater in Queens parks aligns with the councilman’s admirable priorities,” Jason Marr said, adding that they will expand the reach of their flagship “Free Shakespeare in the Park,” which currently reaches over 7,000 people in every geographical area of the borough.

The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy has an outdoor film series as well as LIC Landing Live, a concert series every Friday night in September. The Central Astoria Local Development Corporation stages a host of events in Astoria Park all summer long.

The Smiling Hogshead Ranch went from a small group of “guerilla gardeners” to a nonprofit organization in just five years. They now have more than 50 free events, including art exhibits and musical performances as well as yoga, meditation and gardening classes.

“Commissioned arts collaborations offer a new and exciting avenue to work with a variety of cultural producers and arts collectives as we expand our existing, fun and meaningful programming,” Smiling Hogs Head Ranch founder Gil Lopez said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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