Today the Plaxall Gallery announced the launch of Culture Lab LIC, a new nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the development of art, theater, music and community services in Western Queens. Donated by Plaxall Inc., the 12,000-square-foot converted waterfront warehouse located on the Anable Basin in Long Island City is home to three art galleries, a 90-seat theatre, and an outdoor event space. Over the years, the Plaxall Gallery has become an important institution for the surrounding artistic community.
The arrival of Culture Lab LIC (Culture Lab) will allow the Plaxall Gallery to expand its arts and community services, freeing its partner organization, LIC Artists, Inc. to focus on its artist membership services.
Edjo Wheeler, who co-founded the Plaxall Gallery, will continue as Executive Director of Culture Lab, and Tana Sirois will serve as Performing Arts Director. The current gallery director, Norma Homberg, will continue to work with LIC Artists as their Exhibition Coordinator.
“For the past three and a half years, this team of dedicated artists have built this arts center from the ground up, thanks in major part to the generosity of Plaxall,” said Edjo Wheeler, Executive Director of Culture Lab LIC. “This space has become home to some of LIC’s most exciting cultural ideas and activities.”
“We’re committed to providing free and affordable space for artists to develop and produce their work at The Plaxall Gallery,” said Tana Sirois, Performing Arts Director of Culture Lab LIC. “The impact that COVID-19 has had on the artistic community of NYC is devastating. Culture Lab will be here to support artists through the long, challenging recovery, and we will continue to make art happen in LIC.”
During the COVID-19 crisis, Culture Lab has pivoted to function as a donation drop-off and food distribution center, becoming a key link in the chain connecting food sources to hungry people in Queens. The initiative, taken on with other local nonprofits, including LIC Relief, Brighter Bites, The Connected Chef, City Harvest, and Queens Together, has already delivered needed food to thousands of food insecure families.
The space is also used by a range of community groups free of charge, including Hunters Point Park Conservancy, Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, Girl Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous, Habitat for Humanity and local public schools, among many others. Culture Lab LIC aims to expand these partnerships and welcome in more of the local community.
“We are all looking forward to the day when we can re-open and welcome the public back into the gallery for art shows, classes and a diverse range of programming,” says Matt Quigley, Managing Director at Plaxall, Inc. “In the meantime, we are proud to serve our community in this new way and will continue to do everything we can to ensure we pull through this crisis together.”