March 30, 2015 By Michael Florio
Sunnyside Shines kicked off a fundraising campaign last week to help underwrite the cost of hosting a series of public performances under the 46th Street train station–known as Bliss Plaza– this summer.
The performances will be held monthly and will take place every third Thursday from June through October. The series is being called “Third Thursday in Bliss Plaza.”
Sunnyside Shines has partnered with ReCreate Queens, a local group dedicated to putting on artistic performances, to run the series. The two organizations have started a crowdfunding campaign where residents are encouraged to donate funds to help cover the costs.
“Anyone who supports the plaza and the community can donate,” said Rachel Thieme, the executive director of Sunnyside Shines.
Sunnyside Shines is in charge of running this neighborhood’s business improvement district.
The fundraising campaign was launched Friday and has already raised more than $1,000. The goal is to raise $5,185 by April 9.
Thieme said the organization plans on getting the word out about its campaign through social media, an email newsletter and, mostly, word of mouth.
Bliss Plaza was completed last summer and this is the first full year that Sunnyside Shines will be able to focus on using it.
“We want to best utilize it and make it a gathering space for the community,” Thieme said.
“This space has been transformed from a dark underpass with no seating to a performance space,” she added. “It just keeps getting better.”
The performers for “Third Thursday at Bliss Plaza” are being selected by ReCreate Queens, which ended the application period Friday.
The group has received about 40 applications and will begin reviewing them this week. ReCreate Queens sought a variety of performers—from dancers to magicians, said Amanda Keil, with Recreate Queens.
Keil did add that while Sunnyside residents will receive preference, quality is the first priority.
Thieme said the plaza is an ideal place for performers since it is located in such a prominent spot.
“It will create a buzz and bring a lot of foot traffic,” Thieme said.
She said that the series will attract No. 7 train riders and draw new people into Sunnyside.
“This could be a welcoming entrance to the community [for visitors],” she said. “It could create a great first impression…to sit and watch some performances in a public plaza.”
She added that if this goes well the organization will look to expand the series next year.
Thieme said there is also programming at the Lowery Plaza, located under the 40th Street Station, in the works for this summer.
A breakdown of the budget for the Bliss Plaza series, which includes paying performers, printing posters and flyers, can be found on the campaign website.
For more on the campaign and to donate go to: https://www.ioby.org/project/third-thursdays-bliss-plaza.