Sheila Lewandowski is co-founder and executive director of The Chocolate Factory Theater. Through her leadership, the theater has supported over 800 artists and as many as 35,000 visitors since opening its doors in 2004. In addition, Ms. Lewandowski instituted the annual Taste of Long Island City as an economic and community development project, the proceeds of which further the work of The Chocolate Factory’s artists each year.
From 2004 to 2006 Ms. Lewandowski served as the first managing director of Queens Council on the Arts (QCA). During this time, she was instrumental in helping to secure new funding for QCA, increasing the budget by over 20%.
Prior to joining QCA, Ms. Lewandowski served from 1987 to 2004 as associate director of the Girls’ Vacation Fund (since renamed Girls’ Quest) a youth services agency focused on empowering under-served girls from New York City. Her devotion to Girls’ Quest started as a child when she was recruited out of the Stapleton Housing Project in Staten Island. She credits the agency as one of the major infl uences in her passion and commitment to serve her community. During her tenure, Girls’ Quest assisted over 7,000 girls. Ms. Lewandowski is proud to be in contact with these young women today, as fellow community leaders, devoted parents and friends.
Ms. Lewandowski received a fellowship from the United Way of New York City’s Non-Profit Leadership Institute in 2004. She also lends her time and talent as a volunteer member of her local Community Board 2, the Board of the Non-Profit Coordinating Committee of New York City, One Percent for Culture Campaign,Queens Tourism Council and is a founding member of LIC Business Women. She tirelessly devotes much of her time to many causes from helping a local community garden build a compost bin to helping organize the local Halloween parade, to advocating for the arts and artists in New York City, and beyond.
For all of her efforts she has been recognized by New York City Councilmember Leroy Comrie, New York State Assemblywoman Catherine T. Nolan, the Long Island City Business Improvement District, and the Queens County Democratic Club, among others.
Brian Rogers is a director, video artist, co-founder and artistic director of The Chocolate Factory Theater, which supports the creation of theater, dance, music and multimedia performances at its 5,000 sq ft facility in LIC, Queens. Since 1997, Brian has conceived and/or directed numerous large scale performances at The Chocolate Factory and elsewhere including Hot Box (September 2012, co-presented with FIAF’s Crossing The Line Festival / January 2013, PS122′s COIL Festival / February 2013, EMPAC Center), the Bessie-nominated Selective Memory (2010/11), redevelop (death valley) (2009), 2 Husbands (2007), Gun Play (2006), Audit (2004), and Fundamental (2002).
In addition to his own work, Brian curates The Chocolate Factory’s Visiting Artist Program (now in its 8th year) which supports the work of more than 100 theater, dance, music and multimedia artists each year.
As a video, sound and performance artist, Brian has collaborated with numerous dance and theater artists including Shaun Irons and Lauren Petty (the horror the horror, Movement Research Festival 2010 / Abrons Arts Center 2011), Aynsley Vandenbroucke (Danspace Project, March 2011), Tara O’Con (Danspace Project, January 2009), Jillian Sweeney (September 2009), and the Movement Research Spring 2008 Festival (24x4x4). Recent video works include The Borden Avenue Bridge Project, presented at NY Designs in May 2008. He presented his first solo exhibition of new video works in November 2012 at Ventana 244 Gallery in Brooklyn.
Brian has served as a panelist and/or recommender for numerous organizations including NYSCA, Queens Council on the Arts, ART/NY, DTW Outer/Space, the A.W.A.R.D. Show, NYC Dept of Cultural Affairs, Fresh Tracks, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Made Here, Creative Capital, Pew Charitable Trust, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Yaddo, MacDowell Colony and others; and has taught master classes and otherwise engaged with graduate and undergraduate students at numerous institutions including Sarah Lawrence College, The University of Colorado, The School at The Art Institute of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon University, The New School, New York University, St Johns University and others. Brian currently serves on the Board of the MacDowell Colony; and is a graduate of Bennington College.