The Covid-19 pandemic might have forced Flushing Town Hall, along with just about every other performance venue, to temporarily close its doors to live performances. But that hasn’t stopped the venerable institution from sharing its appreciation for culture with the world.
Witness Global Arts for Global Kids, a series of online classes geared to introducing young people (and, in fact, people of all ages) to a wide variety of artistic genres.
It’s coming back bigger and better than ever, with additional classes and translations that allow for a wider audience. And it’s free!
The idea began in March of last year, shortly after the virus began to confine audiences to their homes.
In keeping with Flushing Town Hall’s mission, “We’re trying to highlight the diversity of the Queens community,” explained Gabrielle Hamilton, director of education and public programming. “We’re trying to explore the range of arts and cultural experiences of Queens and New York,” she added.
With this in mind, the virtual global arts program kicked off with a nine-week series, spotlighting a different topic each week.
By popular demand, the series is going to be replayed, beginning this week with a look at Colombian music, featuring teaching artist Martin Vejarano, a musician, composer and bandleader.
The first online lesson in the series addresses cumbia, dance music from the country’s Atlantic coast. In a video that runs just over three minutes, Vejarano has his viewers exploring the music’s rhythms, using homemade instruments to demonstrate: a plastic bucket becomes a drum, wooden spoons are used as drumsticks, and a shaker is made out of dried chick peas in a glass jar.
In a total of five videos, Vejarano explores different aspects of Colombia’s rich musical heritage.
Upcoming weeks will focus on a wide variety of subjects, among them Chinese, Indian and Mexican dances and African drumming. After viewing each video, at-home audiences are invited to have a go at a post-lesson activity worksheet. This time around, the series is available in the original English version as well as in translations into Hindi, Spanish, Chinese and Korean.
Participants are encouraged to post short video clips of themselves engaged in exploring the various cultures on the Flushing Town Hall Facebook page.
Once posted, the videos will remain on the venue’s website and Facebook page for the entire nine-week period.
Town Hall is also offering additional interactive enrichment in the form of two live virtual workshops. The first, “Meet the Artist,” introduces the weekly teachers to viewers, while the second, “Jam with the Artist,” will allow viewers to “make use of what they learned throughout the week and jam, dance and use the instruments they created,” according to a Town Hall representative.
Each virtual workshop, available to schools and family groups, runs 45 minutes and costs $150 for a maximum of 30 participants. The group leader receives a Zoom link for the live virtual workshop, which can be scheduled to allow participants to work with the teaching artist. Printable certificates of participation will be available.
For further information on Global Arts for Global Kids, visit flushingtownhall.org and click on “education.”