From left: Verdery Roosevelt, Senior Vice President of Program and Nonprofit Investments, UMEZ; Kenneth J. Knuckles, President & CEO of UMEZ; Laveen Naidu, Executive Director, Dance Theatre of Harlem; Virginia Johnson, Director, Dance Theatre of Harlem



DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM RECEIVES UMEZ GRANT

 

 

            New York, NY – Last week, Kenneth J. Knuckles, President and CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corp. (UMEZ), announced that the Dance Theatre of Harlem, which has delighted and electrified audiences for over four decades, had been awarded a multi-year grant $646,000 by this organization’s Cultural Industry Investment Fund.

 

Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and the late Karel Shook.  Mr. Mitchell, a former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, created it to specialize in classical ballet performance and training.  Over its forty year presence in Upper Manhattan, it has grown to become a primary cultural asset in the community, and it has been the premier institution in this country for dancers of color who wished to study and perform classical ballet, an art form within which African Americans, Latinos, and other artists of color are significantly underrepresented. Today, it is one of only three culturally specific performing arts organizations in the country whose annual budget is greater than $3 million.

 

Among its many other noteworthy achievements, Dance Theatre of Harlem was the first American dance company to win the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award; broke America’s cultural ban on South Africa at the invitation of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress; and was the last American dance troupe to perform in the former USSR and the first to perform in Russia.

 

            The UMEZ grant will be combined with other private and public financial contributions, as well as Dance Theatre of Harlem’s performance earnings, to help improve the Theatre’s overall operations, while allowing for its stability and future development.  As such, the UMEZ investment is being directed to four primary purposes. These include the hiring of an institutional advancement consultant; a marketing and communications consultant; fund-raising assistance; and an upgrade of the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s information technology systems.

 

 

 “The intrinsic importance of the Dance Theatre of Harlem is unassailable,” said Mr. Knuckles. “It is a flagship Upper Manhattan institution whose artistic excellence, historical influence, and cultural contributions have touched people all over the world. That’s why we felt it was vitally important to join with other corporations and foundations to provide it with the much-needed financial assistance to continue its outstanding activities for another 40 years and beyond.”

 

 

ABOUT UPPER MANHATTAN EMPOWERMENT ZONE:

 

UMEZ’s mission is to sustain the economic revitalization of all the communities of Upper Manhattan through job creation, corporate alliances, strategic investments and small business assistance.  UMEZ seeks to revitalize distressed communities by using geographically targeted public funds and tax incentives as catalysts for private investment. In Upper Manhattan, the communities that lie within the Empowerment Zone's borders include Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood.

 

ABOUT THE CULTURAL INDUSTRY INVESTMENT FUND

 

UMEZ’s CIIF celebrates Upper Manhattan’s rich past while creating new legacies.  The work of the CIIF is two-fold:  community building through a cultural and economic lens; and, a marketing of place that repositions Upper Manhattan as one of New York City’s primary cultural districts.  The goals of the CIIF are sustaining the local economy by promoting development, revitalization and tourism; making strategic cultural investments; and, strengthening the cultural ecosystem.

 

CIIF seeks to fund service organizations that can significantly position and promote local arts and culture as an integral component of cultural history, contemporary art production, and the local cultural industry and economy; build the artistic and administrative capacity of local arts and cultural players; provide technical assistance; develop programmatic links and collaborations with other groups in Upper Manhattan, city-wide, and/or nationally; and, service the arts across disciplines.

 


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