Tag Archives: Indiegogo campaign

Astoria couple starts nonprofit to bring together international LGBTQ human rights activists

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Hugo Fernandes

One Astoria-based nonprofit is looking to unite and provide support for LGBTQ human rights activists from around the world.

Husband and husband duo Evan Davidoff and Hugo Fernandes founded the organization the Global Partnership for Emerging Leaders (GPEL) earlier this year with the goal of helping empower emerging leaders within the LGBTQ global community.

The idea of the group was born after Davidoff, who has a background in nonprofit/fundraising and LGBTQ rights, attended numerous conferences which brought the LGBTQ community together and he wondered what happened to the connections made after the events were over.

“It’s this amazing thing, you have these three to four days where everyone is charged and all together but then after it’s like what’s next?” Davidoff said.

Evan Davidoff and Hugo Fernandes

Evan Davidoff and Hugo Fernandes

The Astoria resident always had the idea of forming the group as a passion project on the side but then decided to make it a reality after sitting down and speaking with his husband.

GPEL is based out of Astoria, which the couple has called home since 2008, and the couple plans to use the neighborhood as the location where LGTBQ activists from around the world will come together for the group’s first conference in July 2016.

Although the location of the conference is still being determined, the group would like participants to stay at hotels in either Astoria or Long Island City.

“I think there’s something nice to staying in the community and having the organization exist from here because from my viewpoint Astoria and Long Island City is right for startup culture,” Davidoff said. “Just for us in the eight years we’ve been here, Astoria and LIC have really changed and transformed and I think Astoria has always had this international fare. It’s something that stood out to me and I think that’s something that’s really novel of Astoria particularly and to me it would be interesting to be based here.”

Those who participate in the conference will be able to use the tools provided by GPEL and other LGBTQ activists to “use in the fight” back in their home countries. The group also plans to be a network where members can communicate and share experiences even after the conference is over.

To help with starting out, GPEL also began an Indiegogo online campaign with the goal of raising $2,000 which will go toward activities for the LGBTQ human rights activists and also help provide funds for participants making the trip to the city for next year’s conference.

An official launch party for GPEL, which has already created a leadership team in New York and is forming a team with members throughout the world, is expected to take place in September.

To donate to the campaign, click here. For more information on GPEL visit gpel.org or facebook.com/TheGPEL.

GPEL's Leadership Team

GPEL’s Leadership Team


LIC’s Secret Theatre to stay open after surpassing fundraising goal

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Orestes Gonzalez

The show will go on at one Long Island City theatre thanks to a successful online fundraising campaign.

Last month Richard Mazda, founder of the Secret Theatre, located at 44-02 23rd St., started an Indiegogo campaign looking to raise enough money to help keep the doors of the theatre open.

The fundraising site came after Mazda said the theatre had to deal with financial difficulties starting in late 2012 after the Department of Buildings (DOB) found the landlord’s certificate of occupancy was out of date.

The goal of the Indiegogo campaign, which ends Sept. 4 at 11:59 p.m., was set at $10,000, and as of Thursday afternoon $10,860 had been raised.

“I feel really good about it,” Mazda said about seeing the overwhelming amount of support. “Coming out and saying we’re in trouble was not easy. I feel very luck that so many people did rush to help.”

The Secret Theatre opened in 2007 and has since produced weekly children’s theatre shows, held classes for students, provided coaching services, produced in-house shows and co-produced productions.

Along with raising the money to pay for expenses, Mazda also said the funds will go toward renovations such as putting a restroom inside the Little Theatre, which had to be moved to an alternative spot in the 23rd Street building after violations were found by the DOB.

He also hopes to turn the theatre into a nonprofit organization.

Mazda said he plans to start the Queens Theatre Fund, a small organization which brings together the Queens theatre community to create funding for “exceptional and emergency circumstances,” such as the one in which the Secret Theatre found itself.

“I tried to be very transparent and sincere and a lot of people have said to me that what I was saying to them hit home. They understood from the way that I communicated the message,” Mazda said about the overall fundraising experience. “I think they realized the Secret Theatre is a resource for the community.”


LIC’s Secret Theatre turns to fundraising campaign to survive

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Orestes Gonzalez

One Long Island City theatre is looking to raise enough money to help keep its doors open.

Richard Mazda, founder of the Secret Theatre, located at 44-02 23rd St., has started an Indiegogo fundraising campaign after having to deal with financial difficulties starting in late 2012.

The difficulties came after the Department of Buildings found the landlord’s certificate of occupancy was out of date, which meant that Mazda had to pay DOB fines, hire architects to get correct permits in place and also move the site’s Little Theatre to an alternative spot in the 23rd Street building.

“We were under the threat of closing one space and just having the big theatre, or closing both spaces and literally calling it a day,” Mazda said. “No matter how hard we tried we couldn’t dig our way out just from our normal thin profit margin.”

Mazda continued to explain that the Secret Theatre breaks even with the money coming in from ticket sales, but to pay for the “unexpected costs” they now had to turn to the community to help cover some debts and also continue offering programs to the community.

The Secret Theatre opened in 2007 and has since produced weekly children’s theatre shows, held classes for students, provided coaching services, and produced in-house and co-produced productions.

“I am comfortable that we will raise a good amount of money,” Mazda said. “I am very moved by the support we are receiving so far and I look forward to being able to thank more people.”

Along with raising the money to pay for expenses, Mazda also said he hopes to bring change to the Secret Theatre and turn it into a nonprofit organization.

The Indiegogo campaign has a goal of $10,000 and will run until Sept. 4.

“At this point in time I don’t think we will close. We are still in trouble, but the reaction from people has been incredible,” Mazda said.

For more information visit secrettheatre.com. To donate to the Secret Theatre’s fundraising campaign, click here.


Arts nonprofit raises funds for new space as 5Pointz set to be demolished

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Carolina Penafiel/Local Project

As the wrecking ball gets closer to 5Pointz, one nonprofit that calls the graffiti mecca home is now looking for help to fund their new space once it’s time to move out.

For the past five years, Local Project, a nonprofit arts organization, has housed its headquarters and gallery space at 45-10 Davis Street in Long Island City inside the warehouses of 5Pointz.

After the property’s owners decided to sell the location to construct two high-rise apartment buildings, Local Project was left waiting for the inevitable — and also wondering where they would go from there.

On Tuesday, August 21 the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the plan for the two towers to be built.

“Local Project belongs to Long Island City, everybody knows us,” said Carolina Penafiel, founder and director. “The day they demolish this is going to be very weird. I believe in changes, I believe in progress, but I don’t believe in mistreating people. They just want to get us out of here.”

On August 7, Local Project started an Indiegogo campaign called “Keep LP Spinning” to begin raising funds needed to pay for a new home, moving fees and construction. There is a $27,000 goal the group hopes to reach by September 30, when they must leave the warehouse.

Local Project is looking to move into a new space on 44th Road in Long Island City, close to their first location prior to the 5Pointz warehouses. The group was able to get this location due to the help of Susan Peters, a big supporter. Although the space is leased, Local Project still has to raise the funds in order to move in.

“We’re trying to grow and trying to provide a bigger place,” said Penafiel. “We’re trying to create an experience for people.”

Continuing the work with local and emerging artists to host exhibits and create community events, Penafiel said the new space will allow Local Project to give back more to the community. She said the new space will allow the group to be more organized and active, and to provide more services like workshops, afterschool programs and help for to local schools.

“We’re going to come in stronger and last longer if this comes true,” said Penafiel. “It’s like a dream. It depends on people. The hope is in our collaborators and those who want us to continue. We need the support.”

To contribute to Local Project’s campaign you can visit www.igg.me/at/LocalProject.