The Queen Mary will be ground zero next week for an ambitious attempt at merging the arts and the international community.

    Arts Olympus will bring a massive mash-up of cultural exchange to Long Beach’s historic icon for four days. The ship is being used as a press launch for a project that involves a traveling international community of the arts.

    The idea to have the launch in Long Beach was a natural one for founder and president Robert Slaughter.

    “I’ve worked literally all over the world, and now I’m coming home,” the former Long Beach resident said. “We’re doing our world press launch on the most famous ship in the world.”

    Slaughter, a Wilson High School and California State University, Long Beach, graduate, has intentions for his ship tour to be a Noah’s Ark of sorts — but for artists and intellectuals. While the Long Beach weekend event will be set exclusively in the confines of the Queen Mary, the touring ship Slaughter has secured eventually will leave from the docks of New York City. That ship will foster a potentially large and international crew, with the idea that each stop along the way will generate new performers and performances, with Arts Olympus building upon itself.

    “Our ultimate goal is to launch a cultural ship of goodwill,” Slaughter said. “When we arrive in the a city, we’ll be like a World’s Fair of the arts in that area.”

    For the Long Beach event, hosted from June 17-20, residents can expect a full smorgasbord of events and performances.

    “We’ll have four days of performances representing all cultures from around the world,” Slaughter said.

    Ship representatives have opened things up for Slaughter to work his vision.

    “This is a first time event and they’re really driving the bus on this,” said Bruce Skidmore, Queen Mary director of sales and marketing. “We want to help them grow their program for future years.”

    Spectators can expect a roster of performances including art exhibits, poetry readings, a 15-person dancing ensemble from Persia, contemporary Russian video art from Moscow, a fiddle player from Scotland, an old-world puppet theater and even the Wilson High School band.

    “It’s going to be like an entertainment buffet,” Slaughter said. “We have people flying in from all over the world and they’re all booking rooms on the Queen Mary.”

    Slaughter and his volunteers will actually kick off the event at 7 p.m. next Thursday, when they attempt to put together the world’s longest buffet line, inviting chefs from all over Southern California. The cost of the buffet will be $25.

    “We don’t know if we’re going to break the record for the world’s longest buffet,” he said. “We did research and even the Guinness world record book couldn’t tell us. We know it will definitely be the longest on a ship ever.”

    A Golden Orb Awards fundraising gala will be hosted at 6 p.m. Saturday. Awards will be given to several big name philanthropists including: Romina Arena, Jane Russell, Linda Gray, Soheir Khashoggi, Robert Muller and Ed Begley Jr. This gala will have special performances and food, with a tax deductible cost of $125.

    Sunday, the emphasis will shift greatly to children. Previous programs seen on other days of the program will be geared toward children, with several events emphasizing adoption.

    One event in particular will work to make an instant difference, when Arts Olympus joins forces with Operation Children and its founder Jane Russell to throw a party for a large number of foster children from the greater Los Angeles region. Volunteers from the event actually will be prospective parents.

    “So at the end of the part, hopefully a bunch of kids will get adopted,” Slaughter said.

    The whole spectacle will end with one of Slaughter’s signature “International Art Salons,” where he invites a gathering of patrons of the arts, intellectuals and people of all nationalities and cultures. Previous salons have included New Orleans jazz in New York City, a pavilion in Bangkok with Thai dancers performing and a drop-in by director Oliver Stone.

    “It’s an opportunity for interesting and creative people to assemble,” Slaughter said. “And they are never boring.”

    Admission is a donation of each patron’s choosing. For more information on Arts Olympus at the Queen Mary, visit">

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