The HARLEM Arts Alliance (HAA), the central connection to Uptown arts and culture, is summoning Harlem artists and New York arts supporters to the Harlem Arts Summit during Harlem Arts Advocacy Week this fall. Under the theme “Harlem at the Crossroads: Sustaining Our Arts and Cultural Resources,” the seven-day series of mostly free events will begin on Oct. 1 at 10:00 a.m. with presentations to actor and activist Danny Glover, legendary theatrical producer Vy Higginsen and pioneering arts producer and consultant Mikki Shepard at Aaron Davis Hall (City College of New York).
The Arts Summit, will feature several performances, screenings, panels and presentations designed to build support for the arts in Harlem and in communities of color throughout the city. The HAA is a 10-year-old not-for-profit arts service organization comprised of established and emerging visual and performing artists, and art supporters, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations and institutions, including universities and churches, that serve the arts and cultural community in Harlem and throughout greater New York City.
“Harlem boasts some of the city’s most stellar arts organizations and artists, individuals and entities that are, in today’s economic climate, struggling to secure and maintain needed support,” said Voza Rivers, Chairman, HARLEM Arts Alliance. “The Harlem Arts Summit is being held to shine the light on the treasures in our midst and to help them secure and sustain the crucial resources needed to continue their missions.”
Glover will receive the HAA Humanitarian Award at the kickoff event at Aaron Davis Hall on Monday, Oct. 1 and will address the importance of arts and culture to the health and vitality of communities of color in New York and around the world. New State Council on the Arts Executive Director Lisa Robb will give an overview of the status of state arts funding, followed by Kenneth J. Knuckles, Esq., CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, who will report on the current state of the arts in Harlem. The HAA will also honor legendary theatrical producer Vy Higginsen of the Mama Foundation with its Lifetime Achievement Award, and pioneering producer, presenter and arts consultant Mikki Shepard of the Apollo Theater Foundation with HAA’s 2012 Arts Leadership Award.
The Harlem Arts Summit brings together an exciting array of events showcasing Uptown arts institutions. Highlights include an opening reception hosted by The City College of New York at Aaron Davis Hall, 135th Street and Convent Avenue, on Monday, Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m., directly followed by “A Conversation with Harlem Arts Leaders: Today’s Challenge, Tomorrow’s Promise.” Noted actress and Harlem resident Tamara Tunie (Law and Order SVU) will introduce the discussion, which will feature Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Artistic Director Virginia Johnson; Harlem School of the Arts President and CEO Yvette L. Campbell; and Patricia Cruz, executive director Harlem Stage/The Gatehouse. The panel will be moderated by multimedia journalist Katti Gray.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, opens its doors on Tuesday, Oct. 2 for two events. At 12 noon, it will host a screening of excerpts from the film The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music that Changed America. This cinematic work turns the spotlight on the Savoy Ballroom, home of the amazing Lindy Hop dancers, and the first venue in America where Blacks and Whites could dance and socialize together. The film focuses on band leader and drummer Chick Webb, who led the Savoy Ballroom’s house band; Webb virtually invented modern drumming and built the hottest band of the 1930’s. The film’s executive producer, Voza Rivers, will lead a discussion with Jeff Kaufman, producer/director of The Savoy King; Dr. Richard Gale, son of Moe Gale, owner of the Savoy Ballroom; Gertrude Jeannette, actress; Norma Miller, swing dance master; and special guests. At 6:00 p.m., the Schomburg will hold an open house in partnership with HARLEM Arts Alliance. Schomburg Director Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad will welcome attendees preceding an open forum and discussion entitled, “The Next Generation of Voices,” a discussion featuring international journalist and playwright Esther Armah, jazz journalist and producer Greg Thomas, and others.
Harlem’s emerging role as a film and technology center will be discussed at a luncheon at Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s new El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center, 175 East 104th Street, on Wednesday, Oct. 3. The luncheon will begin at 12:30 p.m. and will be hosted by Iris Morales, the center’s director, and feature a talk by Alyce Myatt, director, Media Arts, of the National Endowment for the Arts. The panel discussion will be moderated by Jackie Glover, vice president of Documentary Films, HBO, and feature representatives of Harlem’s film and media community including Marcia Smith, Firelight Media, Moikgantsi Kgama, ImageNation, Leslie Fields-Cruz, National Black Programming Consortium, Taneshia Nash Laird, My Image Studios Harlem (MIST Harlem) and Morales.
The Studio Museum in Harlem, 144 West 125thStreet, will host a special viewing and curatorial discussion on Thursday, Oct. 4. The 6:00 p.m. event, which will include a reception, will focus on its current exhibition—the Caribbean Crossroads of the World—which was developed in collaboration with El Museo del Barrio and the Queens Museum.
Harlem arts and culture connect to the nation’s arts scene on Friday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. as Imagining America (IA)—a consortium of universities and organizations dedicated to advancing the public and civic purposes of humanities, arts, and design—heads Uptown. This year’s IA conference involves site visits to Harlem arts institutions. A guided trolley tour will bring visitors and conference attendees to three renowned arts institutions—The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Harlem Stage/the Gatehouse. Special guest speakers will include Patrice Walker-Powell, deputy chair, National Endowment for the Arts; Marcia Sells, vice president, Columbia University; Patricia Cruz, executive director, Harlem Stage/the Gatehouse; and Barbara Askins, president and CEO, 125th Street Business Improvement District.
The Summit continues on Friday at 6:00 p.m. with the opening reception of the fifth annual Strivers Art Circuit Art Tour at Aaron Davis Hall, 135th Street and Convent Avenue. The self-guided art/gallery tour of key galleries, studios and alternative spaces in and around Harlem’s famed Strivers Row district will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6 and 7.
On Friday, Oct. 5 at 7:00 p.m., ImageNation presents “Art & Activism: Using Art for Social Change,” a panel discussion and sneak peek at scenes from the new film, Middle of Nowhere, at RAW SPACE (2031 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., between 121st and 122nd Streets). Ava DuVernay—who became the first black woman to win the best director prize at the Sundance Film Festival with her film Middle of Nowhere—will join the sneak peek of her film and discussion on Friday. Moderated by Moikgantsi Kgama of ImageNation, the panel include DuVernay, Jamal Joseph (author of Panther Baby and former chair of Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division), image activist Michaela angela Davis and a representative from the Center for Media Justice. Her film opens on Oct. 12 in select cities nationwide. This program will be webcasted live by BlackPublicMedia.org. To RSVP, call 212-340-1874.
The New Heritage Theatre Group, in partnership with Community Matters NYC, Harlem Arts Alliance and The City College of New York, will present a concert—“In the Spirit: What’s Your Groove? Hip-Hop, R&B and Blues”—on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 4:00 p.m. at Aaron Davis Hall (City College of New York). The event will feature performances by Legacy, Impact Repertory Theatre, Kwame and the Uptown Shakedown. To RSVP, call 212-926-2550.
The Summit will conclude on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 3:00 p.m. at the Dwyer Cultural Center, 258 St. Nicholas Avenue, with a theatrical reading by Bill Harris. To RSVP, call 212-926-2550.
The Harlem Arts Summit 2012 is presented by the HARLEM Arts Alliance in collaboration with Columbia University, Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, 125th Street Business Improvement District,
Studio Museum in Harlem, Aaron Davis Hall/City College of New York, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem Business Alliance, Harlem Stage/The Gatehouse, Caribbean Cultural Center, Harlem Community Development Corporation, New Heritage Theatre Group, MIST Cinemas and Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) – El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center. Major support for the Summit is provided by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts.
All events are free and open to the public, except the MIST Harlem screening. For more information on the Harlem Arts Summit/Harlem Arts Advocacy Week 2012, visit harlemaa.org or call (347) 735-4280.