Frequently Asked Questions
What are the theaters at the Victoria?
The theaters at the Victoria are two new, flexible performance spaces, one with 99 seats and the other with 199 seats, as well as office space for the Apollo and partner cultural organizations. The theaters are within the “Victoria Theater Redevelopment Project,” a public/private partnership, which also includes residential units, retail space and a hotel. The Apollo Theater will serve as the operator and manager for the theaters. Separate developers will manage the commercial aspects of the building.
Where are they located?
“The Victoria Redevelopment Project” is located at 237 West 125th Street, and the theaters within the Victoria are located on the third and fourth floors of the building. The Apollo is managing the theater space, while the State of New York is managing the overall development of the project along with a for profit developer.
What is the Apollo’s role in the project?
Building on its longstanding position as an anchor in Harlem and as a nonprofit cultural institution, the Apollo was selected by the State of New York through an open Request for Proposal (RFP) process to operate, fund and manage the cultural space for use by the Apollo, artists, students, audiences and cultural partners, extending its role and mission to create a new American performing arts canon for the 21st century and supporting artistic creation and collaboration in Harlem.
How did the Apollo come to be involved in this project?
When the State of New York put out an RFP, the Apollo felt a sense of responsibility to preserve the cultural character of the community and applied. Chosen by the State, the redevelopment of the Victoria Theater offered the Apollo the opportunity to lead the cultural aspects of the project. Through the theaters at the Victoria, the Apollo continues its role as a commissioner and presenter, while also providing the opportunity to partner with other Harlem and New York nonprofits, aligning their resources and offering additional artistic opportunities.
What are the cultural spaces within the redevelopment?
The 25,000-square foot facility will feature two black-box theaters, with 99 and 199 seats. There will also be office space which will be shared by the Apollo Theater and other to be determined cultural organizations.
What will be the spaces be used for?
The theaters at the Victoria will expand the Apollo’s artistic programs allowing the theater to work with emerging and established artists from Harlem and around the globe. The Apollo will also have the opportunity to increase its educational programs for thousands of NYC school students, and its community-wide programs. The Apollo is in discussion with local arts organizations to program performing arts presentations, workshops and artistic collaborations. Space within the theaters will be rented out to non-profits for use, ensuring an active, vibrant cultural center. The details of the rental program will be announced at a later time.
What programs does the Apollo plan to offer at the Victoria Theater?
Apollo programs will be guided by our mission of supporting artists of color across disciplines, serving as an artistic, educational and civic community resource, and activating our legacy to inform contemporary creativity. Specific programs are in the planning stages and will be announced in the coming months.
Will the Apollo hire additional staff dedicated to the Victoria, or will the same staff and leadership manage both?
The Apollo will be adding additional staff to manage the theaters at the Victoria and expanded programming in these spaces.
When will the project be completed? When will the first programs be presented?
Some of the Apollo Theater’s administrative offices will move to the Victoria Theater in Spring 2020. We anticipate presenting the first cultural programs in March 2022.
What are the criteria to rent the cultural spaces? How is that defined?
The Apollo is in the process of developing a number of programs, including a subsidized rental initiative for eligible organizations to address the need for space for the creation and performance of artistic work and community-centered initiatives. Beginning in November 2021, the Apollo will offer eligible, mission-aligned, non-profit arts and cultural organizations the opportunity to apply for subsidies through its Culture Forward program that significantly reduce the cost of using the theaters. Details will be announced at a later date.
What are the criteria to rent the historic Apollo Theater?
The historic and landmarked Apollo Theater at 253 W. 125th Street has two stages that are available to rent. To learn more, please visit us here online.
Who are the other cultural partners?
As part of the original mandate for the space by ESD, the Apollo continues to be in conversation with local non-profit arts organizations to use the Victoria Theater’s office space and commit to ongoing theater usage on a long-term basis. Because of the evolution of the project since it was announced, and the need for these longer-term commitments to ensure the viability of the theater, the previously announced partners will no longer be occupying the administrative spaces but are still eligible for the Culture Forward subsidy program.
How will this project affect 125th Street and what does it mean for the continued gentrification of Harlem? Will this adversely affect small businesses?
The redevelopment of the historic Victoria Theater will be an important part of the economic fabric of Harlem, providing a balance between the longstanding community legacies and the growing tourism in the neighborhood, and building on the Apollo’s continued role as an anchor with a mission to support artists of the African diaspora. The Apollo will be the steward of this vibrant center for community engagement in Harlem, scheduled to open in 2020, which will enable the Apollo to continue to support the community with a broader range of public forums, educational programs, master classes and digital broadcasting, amplifying its impact and that of a variety of arts organizations.
Did the Apollo have a role in planning the new layout / design of the theaters at the Victoria?
Yes. We have engaged the architect, Kostow Greenwood, and designers to help ensure the spaces serve the needs of our artists, our cultural partners, the staff and the community at-large.
What happened to the original Victoria Theater?
The Victoria Theater was most recently a movie theater until it was vacated in 1997. It was originally built as a vaudeville house in 1917, and was one of four contiguous venues on 125th Street, alongside the Apollo Theater, the Harlem Opera House and the Alhambra Theater known as Harlem’s Opera Row. The building was not maintained and suffered. This project restores the landmarked historic façade and builds out the interior to serve as a cultural resource and economic driver for the neighborhood.
How much of the existing interior will be retained?
Unfortunately, the building suffered from neglect and most of the original interior was lost. The exterior will be restored, including animation of a new marquee that will be used to project the arts programs activating the spaces inside amongst other things.
Will the Apollo raise funds for the operation of the theaters at the Victoria?
Yes, the Apollo is raising funds to support the operation and expanded programming. When not in use for Apollo-produced programs, the Apollo will rent the theaters to local non-profit arts and community organizations, which will ensure a diversity of programming.
Where is the money coming from to restore the theaters?
Gifts and grants from a variety of public and private funders helped to make the theaters at the Victoria possible, including Booth Ferris Foundation, Empire State Development, the Harlem Community Development Corporation, The New York Community Trust - LuEsther T. Mertz Advised Fund, and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ).
The full “Victoria Theater Redevelopment Project” is a multi-million dollar project sponsored by the Harlem Community Development Corporation. It is financed by Goldman Sachs, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone and the Empire State Development Corporation. The project is being managed by Exact Capital.
Where can I learn more about the theaters at The Victoria?
To learn more visit www.ApolloTheater.org/VictoriaTheater. To sign up for the Apollo’s A-List to receive news and information from the Apollo visit apollotheater.org/offers.