Art, Astoria
May 20, 2014

How to Throw Killer Block Party with Your Friends and Change the World

[Our friend Hoong Yee Krakauer, Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts, muses in this post on her emotional and analytical process in producing the upcoming QCA Block Party. (…)

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[Our friend Hoong Yee Krakauer, Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts, muses in this post on her emotional and analytical process in producing the upcoming QCA Block Party. We Heart Astoria is proud to be a media sponsor, and we plan to be there at the party—we hope you will, too! -Ed.]

Can I confess something? When it comes to our latest project at Queens Council on the Arts, I am feeling nervous (and a little worried). I know the stakes are high, people’s expectations are huge, and the risks seem monumental. But I’m not going to let that get in the way of our efforts. Here are four things I’ve kept in mind as we navigate the risk and create this amazing event in Astoria—a truly killer block party.

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This baby is in a good mood, just like you will be at the QCA Block Party.

1. Show Them Off

We are throwing a block party—an event that will make all involved shine like a movie star on a set! My organization, the Queens Council on the Arts, is throwing the QCA Block Party on Saturday, June 21. It will take place on the back lot of Kaufman Astoria Studios, the epicenter of the newly formed Kaufman Arts District in the heart of a very cool creative community.

We’re thrilled to show off some of the best of the best in our talented Astoria arts community. We’ll showcase the best films from three Queens film festivals—Rural Route Filmsthe Sparrow Project, and Queens World Film Festival—along with some award winning student work from the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. Sol Aramendi, a Queens photographer, will present Migrant Camera, a nomadic camera obscura, Audrey Dimola will host a literary slam, and live bands from Make Music New York will play throughout the day.

food at the QCA block party

Photo credit: Kevin O’Leary

And if you’re hungry feel free to elbow your way to the unique and delicious food offerings from over a dozen local eateries, and check out the tasty variety of beer from our local breweries.

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2. Build Big Buzz

In a city with a million things to do every minute of the day, you’ve got to find a way to grab people’s attention. How am I going to attract people to our block party? Well, one way to do it is to build buzz (and they will come). If people see something cool and hear lots of others talking about it, they are instantly intrigued and want to know more about it. If scores of people are going somewhere new and exciting, their interest is piqued.

Simple, right? But how do you make this happen? How do you build buzz?

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3. Share The Spotlight

A wise person once said, “Shared joy is double joy.”

Sometimes the secret to success is simply listening and quietly figuring out how to be as helpful as you can. I recently spoke with a group of filmmakers about their experiences as artists in Astoria, how they connect with their fellow artists, and what they really want from their chosen creative life. What they told me is not that different from what many artists and creatives have told me over the years:

  • They want to make art with friends
  • They want to share their stuff
  • They want to connect
  • They want to be part of something good

I want to be helpful to these and other artists, so I put my worries aside—I whack that little worry demon upside his pointy little head and say, “Shut up!” Then I invite everyone in (and out of) the ‘hood—locals, creative artists, eateries, breweries, galleries, the arts-curious—to the block party! I see this party as an opportunity to show NYC and the world one of the best reasons to come to Astoria—the arts. This is something that can bring everyone together and connect through creativity, whether it’s practiced or observed.

qca block party

Photo credit: Kevin O’Leary

Also important—this block party also serves as a fundraiser to build up a stop gap scholarship fund for high school students who need to “close the gap” between their scholarship awards and the full cost of their first year of college tuition. This is one way we can change the world.

4. The Neighborhood Stars

Another major player at this event is our beloved neighborhood of Astoria, a place in which many of us live and work. But how does someone who has never been here, who perhaps doesn’t know anyone in Astoria, connect to the neighborhood? We’ll start by mentioning a few individuals we like to call “Neighborhood Stars.”

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Meet Mackenzi Farquer, the proprietor of Lockwood (and co-founder of this blog), Astoria’s premier lifestyle store located on a tree lined street just off Broadway. Then there’s George Rallis and Gary Anza, the owners of William Hallett, an American bistro and bar with one of the largest selections of whiskey in Queens. People like them are shining stars of Astoria, everyday movers and shakers with friendly faces you recognize in, say, a crowded block party.

So what about you?

The QCA Block Party is on Saturday, June 21, 2014 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Kaufman Astoria Studios Backlot, located on 36th Street and 35th Avenue right here in Astoria. Tickets are $35 (kids under 12 receive free admission), and proceeds go toward our High School to Art School stop gap scholarship program, mentioned above.

So, come catch a flick, savor some of the best barbecue around, get your creative juices flowing, and meet some new friends. You are so invited to be part of this new world of neighborhood artists, filmmakers, great restaurants, and breweries! We look forward to seeing you on June 21st!

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About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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