NEW YORK CITY: The Apollo Theater has announced plans to expand. In addition to its current 1,500-seat venue at 253 W. 125th St., it will take over management of two new theatre spaces, named the Apollo Performing Arts Center, to open in fall 2020.
“The Apollo Theater is reaffirming its deep responsibility to our community and to the emerging and world-class artists with whom we work while simultaneously, creating ways to offer even greater opportunities to artists, audiences, students, and the community and safeguarding the spirit and cultural character of Harlem,” said Apollo Theater president and CEO Jonelle Procope in a statement.
The expansion is part of the Victoria Theater Redevelopment Project, an effort to restore and redevelop the historic Victoria Theater steps away from the Apollo. The project, part of the revitalization of 125th Street by the State of New York, is a public/private initiative that also includes residential units, retail, and a hotel.
The Apollo Theater will manage and operate a 25,000-square-foot space on the third and fourth floor of the building. The space will include an office and two flexible performance spaces with 99 and 199 seats. The performing arts center will house the Classical Theatre of Harlem, Harlem Arts Alliance, and Jazzmobile, among others. In addition, the Apollo will develop a theatre rental subsidy program for nonprofit organizations.
“The Apollo is the soul of American culture, and the Apollo Performing Arts Center will allow us to share that culture with an even wider audience, not only with the Apollo’s own productions, but with other cultural institutions that will help us create and develop the kinds of resources that serve the creative community and audiences around the corner and around the world,” said Apollo Theater executive producer Kamilah Forbes in a statement.
Since opening its doors in 1914, the Apollo Theater has hosted such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown, and Lauryn Hill. It continues to present and commissions work about the African diaspora.