FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
QSpot LGBT Community Center Facing Eviction From Jersey Shore Arts Center
September 10, 2016, Ocean Grove, NJ – QSpot LGBT Community Center is facing eviction from the Jersey Shore Arts Center on December 31, 2016 unless its current lease is renewed. Herb Herbst, President of the Jersey Shore Arts Center, recently informed QSpot that their lease would not be renewed at the end of the year. Herbst cited the agency’s lack of “arts and education” programming for his decision, despite QSpot’s extensive arts and education programming.
QSpot, a tenant of the JSAC since 2012, is the creator and producer of QFest, New Jersey’s only LGBT film festival and recipient of a 2016 Monmouth Arts Council Grant. Additional QSpot arts programming includes live performances by artists such as Emmy-winning actor Leslie Jordan, America’s Got Talent contestant Julia Scotti, and film/tv director Del Shores. QSpot is also home to the QSpot Marching Band, film club and Creative Expressions Group. QSpot’s educational programs include a professional development center, monthly discussion groups and an extensive library with free computer and wifi access. QSpot is also an official field placement site for Monmouth University students completing year long academic internships for graduate and undergraduate degrees.
“QSpot has been a great tenant of the JSAC for almost four years, paying tens of thousands in rent, most of it donated by local community members, to the facility every month,” said John Mikytuck, QSpot Executive Director. “We were assured last September that our lease was under no threat and would be renewed. Given those promises, QSpot invested hundreds of volunteer hours and thousands of community dollars to renovate a dilapidated basement unit into a beautiful, safe and welcoming place for the community.” Today, over 200 people a week access arts, education and other programming at QSpot.
“It seems highly suspect, after making so many valuable improvements, that the JSAC has decided not to renew our lease at this time,” said Mikytuck. “Claiming that QSpot doesn’t provide arts and education programming as the reason, when clearly we do, raises questions about the motivations of the JSAC,” said Mikytuck.
On June 18, six days after the Orlando Pulse nightclub tragedy, QSpot received a letter from the JSAC demanding the agency remove a rainbow flag hanging at the agency’s entrance. The flag was clearly part of a temporary memorial created by the community to honor the victims of the shooting. There were also flowers, candles and a handmade poster listing the names of those who had died. In the demand letter, JSAC president Herbst stated that the flag had to be removed because it violated Neptune Historic Preservation Commission rules. According to people familiar with those rules, temporary flags are not forbidden. More importantly, given the overwhelming suffering caused by the tragedy, demanding QSpot remove a rainbow flag, less than one week after the deaths of so many from the LGBT community, is not only insensitive, it raises serious concerns about the attitudes of the Jersey Shore Arts Center’s leadership towards the LGBT community.
“There are too many unanswered questions surrounding the Jersey Shore Arts Center decision not to renew QSpot’s lease,” said Mikytuck. “We want to assure everyone in the community that QSpot’s staff, Board of Trustees and supporters are doing everything possible to protect our home and defend our rights. We will pursue all avenues to challenge the actions of the JSAC,” said Mikytuck. “It will be a terrible injustice to QSpot, LGBT community and our allies if the JSAC is allowed to evict us on New Year’s Eve.”