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Queens Chronicle

Knockdown Center finds a partner

Allies with the Queens Council on the Arts; applies for liquor license

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Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:14 am, Thu Mar 27, 2014.

The Knockdown Center is still the subject of vehement disapproval from Community Board 5, but the venue recently teamed up with a major ally to advance its mission as an arts center.

The controversial center, located at 52-19 Flushing Ave. in Maspeth, will partner with the Queens Council on the Arts to allow area artists, who need more space to work on their projects, to take up a short residency at the building for anywhere between a week and a month.

According to QCA Managing Director Lynn Lobell, the council is conducting a survey of area artists to study the demand for residencies.

She says the project is in its infancy, and is still about six months away from implementation.

“We’re still in the middle of the conversation, but nothing has been ironed out,” Lobell said in a Tuesday interview. “It’s all going to really depend on the responses we get from the artists.”

Lobell said that around 60 artists have already taken the survey, which can be found on the QCA’s website, and the predominant response the group has received so far is a request for more space.

However, the artists would not be living at the events center during their residencies.

“It’s not set up shop and live there with your work,” she said.

Knockdown Center manager Tyler Myers said the partnership began after the venue invited the QCA to the building to see the space.

After an area artist’s successful trial residency, the two entities decided to ally themselves, a pairing Myers couldn’t be happier about.

“As an arts center, artist work space has always been one aspect of how we plan to foster arts production and exhibition,” Myers said in an email Tuesday. “After we worked together informally, it felt natural to explore partnering on something more formal. The benefit to us is QCA’s expertise in helping us execute a key part of our mission.”

The center’s mission to acquire a liquor license from the State Liquor Authority may prove more difficult.

At last week’s CB 5 meeting, District Manager Gary Giordano announced the former factory had officially filed for a cabaret liquor license for 600 or more people on March 5.

The board voted unanimously 40-0 to formally adopt a position against the granting of a license and will send a letter of opposition to the SLA.

In that letter, Giordano will recommend that the Knockdown Center be denied for a myriad of reasons, including the consumption of alcohol by a large number of young people and the threat of a fire endangering the lives of hundreds of attendees.

While the board discussed its reservations about the center, Lobell said the QCA was not fully aware of the venue’s negative reputation in the community until recently and is not interested in commenting on the matter.

“They’ve spoken to me about it, but we’re not going to take a stance,” she said. “[The Knockdown Center] just needs to get their ducks in order there.”

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