The Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) is opening its doors to the city, inviting other cultural organizations and working artists to use any of its many available performance spaces.
“We began to realize that we had untapped resources that weren’t being utilized,” said JCAL’s Executive Director Carl Fields. “A lot of folks go into Manhattan [or] Brooklyn to find suitable rehearsal space. Now they’ll be able to find something closer to home.”
Fields added that cultural organizations such as JCAL get funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs, but have seen cuts over the past couple of years. With the new space initiative, JCAL will charge cheaper prices than the standard rates for rehearsal and performance sites, in the hope of boosting the center’s own revenue.
The Jamaica YMCA recently signed on to use some JCAL space for its new youth program, the Y Roads Initiative. JCAL’s space initiative should be in full swing by the summer.
“The availability of JCAL for use by a wide range of arts groups is of terrific benefit to Jamaica,” said Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation. “Cultural activity [is] a key element in the revitalization of Downtown Jamaica.”
Fields said that JCAL has a responsibility to cater to the artistic community of southeast Queens. The center hopes that others will use the rehearsal space, perfect their craft and give performances for the community to enjoy.
Four dance studios and two theaters along with music rooms are available.
“We think we have enough to meet the demand for space,” Fields said. “One thing primarily is it’s going to give an option that’s first class, safe and closer to home.”
JCAL has already had informal talks with “a number of people” who have indicated they would like to come and use the space, according to Fields. The site will be open until 9 p.m. every night, but hours are subject to change depending on need.