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Open Letter on Cultural Institutions' Complicity with Luxury Developers in Astoria: Reject Innovation QNS
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Open Letter on Cultural Institutions' Complicity with Luxury Developers in Astoria: Reject Innovation QNS!

July 2022

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We, the undersigned, call on Museum of the Moving Image, Pioneer Works, and Kaufman Studios to renounce their affiliations with the “Innovation QNS” luxury development project.

We, the undersigned, stand with the grassroots organizers of Astoria and reject this predatory rezoning which only benefits the wealthy and harms residents, working artists, and small businesses. We call on local city council members Julie Won and Tiffany Cabán, as well as all progressive council members, to join the growing consensus and thoroughly reject this plan.

Innovation QNS is a $2 billion development project by Larry Silverstein, Kaufman Studios, and Bedrock Realty that would flood the area with mostly high-end luxury housing. Their proposal seeks to add more than a dozen new buildings with thousands of apartments– mostly studios and 1-bedrooms for more than $3,000 a month. The handful of “affordable” units included are still more costly than the average person can afford, yet the billionaires behind this project get a windfall of profit, because upzoning means they can build much higher on the same plot of land: they suddenly get thousands of paying tenants, rather than dozens. This proposal is completely unaffordable, and would drastically harm the surrounding community of Bangladeshi, Spanish-speaking, working class, and other residents who are at most risk for displacement. As we’ve seen in many other luxury upzonings, tenants and small businesses get priced out and displaced as rents rise: soaring land values lead to neighborhood-wide speculation. This plan has zero connection to the existing multi-faceted communities of Astoria, instead seeking to replace and rebuild the neighborhood in the sanitized image of midtown Manhattan.

Kaufman Studios speaks about creating a new ‘arts district’ in Astoria, but who would this arts district really benefit? Promises of temporarily cheap or free space for local artists and cultural organizations have been vague and non-committal. Meanwhile, as land values and rents rise, how many would actually be displaced? Innovation QNS is a real estate deal masquerading as a cultural benefit. As described in, Artwashing During a Pandemic: Should Artists Say No to Real Estate Crumbs?, “artwashing happens when real estate entities use cultural capital to rebrand their luxury developments.... For every artist who gets tossed a crumb, like a temporary studio or a chance to make art for the lobby of a new hotel in a manufacturing zone, there are dozens of other artists who lose their studios because the surrounding rents go up as a result of the luxury development that these ‘opportunities’ reside in. Artists’ economic desperation is used to displace their fellow artists.”

We are the artists, cultural workers, visitors, and neighbors who make institutions like Pioneer Works, Museum of the Moving Image, and Kaufman Studios what they are. Without our labor, creativity, and attention, they are nothing. This partnership aligns these cultural organizations with real estate interests, squarely against the economic, environmental and cultural needs of the people of Astoria and beyond.


257 community members:

Aarati Akkapeddi

Alejandro Paczka, Workers Assembly Against Racism

Alessandra Ametrano

Alex Crowley, Librarian (QPL)

Alex R.

Alexis Medina

Alfredo Gomez, Student

Alicia Grullón, Artist

Almog Cohen-Kashi

Alyson Shotz, Artist

Amanda Bruton

Amanda Catale, Astoria resident

Amanda Yaggy

amy zeng

Ana Tuazon

Andreas Amble

Andreas Petrossiants, e-flux journal associate editor

Andrew Wallace

Angela N. Tiseo

Angelica Aranda

Anita Kwok

Ann McDermott, TakeBackNYC

Anna Harsanyi

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, NYC Chapter

Antika Singh

Ariana Reines

Ariel Lembeck, Artist /Arts Worker

Arnette C. Scott

Asha MacKay, Woodside Community Fridge

ashley condina, artist

Ashlyn Behrndt

Azikiwe Mohammed

Beatrice Modisett, Artist in Queens

Beatriz Rodriguez, Queens artist, SaveNYC admin, Tarte de Art admin

Beau Bonnet, Artist

Becky Elmquist, Larrie

Ben Fishet

Benjamin Krusling, artist and writer

Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, michele campo, v.p.

Brad Isnard

Brian Burbige, Mr

Brian Kozlowski

Bridget Bartolini, artist

Cami dominguez, Artist + brooklyn eviction defense


Carli Salvati, Astoria resident

Carmen V Hulbert, Green Party

Carol Puttre-Czyz, Preservationist Bowery Alliance of Neighbors

Chloe Seibert, Artist

Chris LaCass , Save Our Storefronts

Christina Ko

Christopher Chilas, High School Teacher (Long Island City) and Resident (Astoria)

Christopher Pelham, Director, CRS (Center for Remembering & Sharing)

Cindy Hwang, Art Against Displacement

Clara Freeman, poet

Cody Herrmann

Colleen Asper

Connie Murray , Long Island City resident

Corinna Kirsch

Courtney Takats

Craig Jun Li, Artist

Cynthia Mulcahy, artist and independent curator

Dana Kopel


Danielle Cyr

Danielle Johnson

Dannelly Rodriguez, Astoria Native/Lawyer

Danny Crump, Flux Factory

David Borgonjon

David Gassaway

Denise rickles

Derek Coleman

Diana Benavides

Doreen Mohammed, Queens Community Board 1 + Astoria Not for Sale

Doug B, Self

Ed Figueroa

Eileen Weitzman

Elizabeth Burans, Astoria Resident and Art Educator

Elizabeth Oh, NYC DSA

Elspeth Walker, artist + member, Anticapitalism for Artists

Elvia Wilk


Enid Braun

Eric Alexander

Erica Baum

Eryka Sajek

Esther Blount

F. Reese , Artist

Fannie Ip

Fatima Sanz

Floor Grootenhuis , Artist

Francisca Benitez, Art Against Displacement

Frank Vasquez

Gabrielle Giattino

Gee Wesley

gil lopez, Co-founder Smiling Hogshead Ranch

Gilda Pervin

Gina Gentile , Community member

Gleb Wilson

Hallie McNeill, artist & writer

Hannah Berson, arts administrator & Astoria resident

Hannah Black, Artist & writer

Harriet Hirshorn , Filmmaker

holden taylor, brooklyn eviction defense

Holly McGraw, Artist & Archivist

India Cochrane

Iris You, Student, Astoria resident

Isaac Hart

Isaac Kirk-Davidoff, NYC-DSA Housing Working Group

Isabel Reyna Torres

Jack Wooldridge, NYC-LSC Coordinator, DSA Queens Housing Working Group

Jackie Pereira

Jacqueline Huerta

Jake Davidson, former Museum of the Moving Image educator

Jamila Hammami

Jamilah Elder

Janette Lu

Janine Nichols

Jeff Kasper

jen chantrtanapichate

Jennifer Chan

Jennifer Unruh, Astoria resident, artist, writer, advocate

Jenny Dubnau, Artist Studio Affordability Project


Joey Frank

John Bahia

Jolene Travis, PR at Pratt Institute

Joseph Hsu, Rice University Student, Working in NYC

Judith Haider, Community Member

Judson Jones

Jules Duze, artist/creator

Julia Kwon

Julia N Bryant

Juliana Cerqueira Leite

Julie Drexler Johnson

Justin Davis

Kang Kang

Karen Adelman, artist, LIC resident, former MoMI educator, CUNY Law student


Katherine O'Sullivan, Actor, Inwood Preservation

Katie Cercone

Katie Korns, Astoria resident

Kelly Brosnan

Kelsey Brow, Executive Director, King Manor

Kennan M, NYC-DSA Racial Justice Working Group

Khunsa Amin

Kit mcdonough

Kristen Hackett , Justice For All Coalition, Save Section 9

Lawrence Mesich

Leila Louhaichy

Lena P Afridi

Lily Jue Sheng, film worker and artist/filmmaker

Linda Ganjian, Artist

Lindsey Pannor

Liz Magic Laser

Lucy Koteen, Ms


Manny Gomez

Marge Ohrow, Friend of Astorian Artists

Maria Fattore

María Roca, Friends of Sunset Park

Martin Bisi,  Owner of BC Studio, music recording in Old American Can Factory. Director of Gowanus Artists In Alliance

martina salisbury

Mason Van Gieson

Matthew Mottel

Maxwell Paparella

Maya McClain

Meghan Keane, Artist, Director

Melisa Breiner-Sanders, Queens and Astoria resident

Melissa Orlando, Sunnysider, Co-founder Access Queens

Memo Salazar, co-chair, Western Queens CLT

Michael Foster

Michael Gusev

Michael Robinson Cohen, Citygroup

Michael Simon

Michael Welah, Artist

Michelle Rosen

Michelle Rosenberg, Art Against Displacement

Mildred Lee

Miles grant

Milton X. Trujillo, filmmaker, cultural worker, Centro Corona

Minh Nguyen

Mink Arbeiter

Misra walker, Artist and community organizer

N/A TK, Queens

Nadia Schwingle

Nancy Preston

Naomi Schiller

Nat Roe

Nazaret Cuadros

Nazish Azad , Artist

Nicolás Vargas, Brooklyn Eviction Defense

Nicole Reiner, Astoria resident & former QCA employee

Nikholis Planck, Artist and employed cultural worker

Nos Wesley

Olivia Crough

Pamela Herrera, Advocate

Paolina Gonzales

Paper Tiger TV Inc.

Patricia Dorfman, Executive Director, Sunnyside Artists, Inc.

Patricia S.

Patricia Silva, Queens-based artist

Patrick Mohundro

Pongsathorn Muangchan

Priscilla Stadler, artist

Rachael Su

Rachel Nass, Astoria Resident

Rachel Youens, Associate Adjunct Professor, LaGCC, CUNY

Rania Lee Khalil, artist

Raoul Anchondo, Astoria resident and art worker

Roque Rodriguez, Human Being

Rosa Betances

roslyn huebener

Ryan Douglass

Ryan Oskin, Art Against Displacement

Sabrina Bazile, Urban Planner

Sabrina Ramirez , Astoria Born, Raised, & Live Concerned Resident

Sallie Sanders, Independent Arts Manager, Board Member, Collector

Sam Lefebvre

Sam Sundius, Artist in Queens

Sandy Ismail

Sandy Reiburn

Sara Benjamin

Sara Zielinski

Sarah Castro

Sarah Lazur, Crown Heights Tenant Union

Scott Andrew Hutchins, Writer/Composer

Sean J Patrick Carney

Shania Naderipour

Shiva Addanki

Sierra Pettengill, Filmmaker

Sophia Stavrula Friedman-Pappas

Spencer Compton

Spenser Reilly

Stephanie Beck, Artist

Stephanie Jones

Stephanie Tsopanidis

Steven T. Licardi, LMSW, Licensed Social Worker, Spoken Word Poet, and Performance Activist

Stine An, Poet and Translator

Su Jung Chang

Suneil Sanzgiri, Artist & Filmmaker

Ted Freed, Inwood Legal Action

terra graziani, anti-eviction mapping project

The Illuminator Collective

Thomas Muccioli

Tiffany Wang, Arts worker

Todd Ayoung, Pratt Institute and Parsons, The New School

Toni Arenstein, Workers Assembly Against Racism

Tyler Winthrop

Vanessa Thill, Art Against Displacement

Veronica Lawlor, Artist and arts educator

Viveca Licata , Artist

Western Queens Community Land Trust

William Powhida, Artist

Workers Assembly Against Racism

Xaviera Simmons, Artist

Zazu Swistel, Architect and Artist