Harlem Stage Gala

Harlem Stage Gala


Throughout the 1920s, Harlem experienced a cultural and intellectual eruption that became known as the Harlem Renaissance. During this period, Harlem was a lightning rod, drawing black writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars. Many had come from the South, escaping its repressive system in order to find a place where they could freely express their talents. This led to an outburst of African-American culture, art, literature and social change.

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Jesse and Elizabeth Gordon, John Josephson and Carolina Zapf.JPG

On Monday, May 20th, Harlem Stage, the legendary uptown performing arts venue hosted its annual gala celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. The event was a cool night filled with hot Jazz. The intimate evening was hosted by MSNBC Political Analyst Joy-Ann Reid and raised Over $400,000 to support Arts and Education Programming for Harlem Stage.

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Patrons were dressed in attire inspired by the roaring ‘20s, to mark the era. Guests enjoyed musical performances in the historic and stunning Gatehouse, a New York City landmark built in 1890 which once served as a pivotal facility in the Croton Aqueduct system and was revitalized to serve as a state-of-the-art performance space. The theme of this year’s event was “Disrupters: Then, Now, and in the Future” in honor of those who shake up the status quo in every field by pushing the boundaries of innovation.

The gala is a tribute to artists, activists, and creators, and celebrates Harlem Stage’s more than 35 years as an institution known for commissioning and presenting new, innovative work that reflects and responds to the complex conditions that shape the lives of audiences, artists, and communities of color. Harlem Stage have been an effervescent presence on the New York City arts scene, hailing and supporting artists of color from Harlem and around the world.

Proceeds from the gala will help support Harlem Stage's critical mission to commission and present works by visionary artists of color and supports the thousands of New York City school children Harlem Stage serves each year through the Frances Davis/Harlem Stage Arts Education Program.

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Noma Dumezweni and Pat Cruz.JPG

The 2019 gala honored several individuals and organizations who embody Harlem Stage’s mission. I had the great pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with Noma Dumezweni, a British actress and TONY nominee (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) who was so gracious and chatted with me all night.

Later on in the night,The Philanthropy Award was presented to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), which has helped Harlem Stage fulfill its artistic mission in multiple ways, including exposing thousands of students each year to the arts, support of Harlem Stage’s first-ever international live stream event, and presenting an unprecedented five-week run of Antigone in Ferguson, a critically acclaimed theater work.

The Transformative Artist Award was given to Stew of the acclaimed band Stew and The Negro Problem. Stew is a lauded musician who traversed the musical sphere into theatre to become a TONY Award-winning playwright with his play “Passing Strange” and Notes of A Native Song, commissioned and presented in 2015 as part of Harlem Stage’s WaterWorks program.

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Emerging Artist Honoree Savannah Harris.JPG

The Emerging Artist Award was presented to Savannah Harris, a rising star in the jazz world. Known for her unique and technical style of drumming, she has graced the Kennedy Center stage and works with Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Patricia Cruz, Executive Director, Harlem Stage said “Our gala enables Harlem Stage and our artists to join together with our audiences, community and supporters in the contemporary struggle to realize a just, equitable and truly democratic society”

Photos by Marc Millman

For more information or events for Harlem Stage please visit : https://www.harlemstage.org/

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