FROM THE PRESIDENT & CEO
It’s been an extraordinary month at the Apollo, from the incredible performances and tributes at the recent Apollo Resounding benefit to the induction of the incomparable Mary J. Blige into the Apollo’s Walk of Fame. I am also delighted to let you know that MacKenzie Scott made a generous donation to the Apollo. Her gift comes at a critical time for the institution as the Apollo works to rebuild its schedule of live performances and education and community programs. And today, I have more exciting updates to share with you. In 2018, we announced that for the first time in nearly nine decades the Apollo was expanding its physical footprint, becoming the operator and manager for the cultural space located a few doors down within the Victoria Theater Redevelopment Project. After a pause due to the pandemic, I’m excited to announce that we will officially be opening the space, including two flexible theaters, one with 99 seats and the other with 199 seats, in March 2022.
This expansion allows us to provide vibrant, year-round artistic, educational, and community programs that build on the cultural heritage of Harlem and celebrate the enormous well of creativity found in our neighborhood. What’s more, Apollo’s Victoria Theater addresses the lack of cultural space uptown, providing greater access to professional-level theater venues for local artists, artist collectives, and small and mid-size Harlem and NYC-based arts organizations for the development and presentation of performance-based work and brings additional opportunities for audiences to engage with and visit Upper Manhattan, further driving economic investment in the Harlem community.
When the Apollo first began its journey to the Victoria with the Empire State Development (ESD) team in 2012, we never would have imagined that a pandemic would create so much uncertainty about the future for non-profit arts organizations nationwide. After being selected through a Request for Proposals process by ESD to oversee the cultural spaces, we took on responsibility for managing the design and construction of the theaters, including raising the capital to not only build the Victoria but also run it. Concurrently, we’ve been developing a number of programs to address local non-profits’ needs for space uptown to create and perform artistic work and community-centered initiatives.
Beginning in November, the Apollo will offer eligible, mission-aligned, non-profit arts and cultural organizations the opportunity to apply for Culture Forward, Apollo’s brand-new subsidy program that will significantly reduce the cost of using the theaters. The Apollo will offer selected organizations professional, high-quality technical equipment and the essential staff needed for events at the Victoria, all-inclusive, at substantially reduced rates for both performances and rehearsals. Additional details on the Culture Forward application process will be announced in the fall. This exciting project continues to evolve, and the Apollo is also in conversation with other local non-profit arts organizations about longer-term commitments to ensure the Victoria has year-round programming, part of the original mandate for the space by ESD.
Looking forward, the Apollo’s Victoria Theater will officially open in March with a special three-concert presentation of Dreaming Zenzile, a modern jazz theater-piece based on the extraordinary life of the late South African singer and political activist Miriam Makeba. Grammy-nominated vocalist and songwriter Somi Kakoma created and will perform the work, which is presented in association with National Black Theatre.
The Apollo has always valued your thoughts, please send your feedback to [email protected] In the meantime, I very much hope you will join us on the Apollo’s Digital Stage in the months ahead, and I look forward to sharing more about our upcoming fall season and the additional celebrations we are planning for the Victoria Theater soon.
President & CEO