Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Harlem Arts Alliance - A Special Event!


Danny Glover, Tamara Tunie, Esther Armah, Vy Higginsen, Voza Rivers
and Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad Among the Luminaries at the Harlem Arts Summit
During Harlem Arts Advocacy Week 2012, October 1-7, 2012

NEW YORK (September 19, 2012)—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 kick off on October 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 an array of 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 ten-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, October 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 October 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 October 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 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, October 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.

On Wednesday, October 3, participants are invited to the U.S. premiere screening of Otelo Burning, a beautiful, coming-of-age drama by award-winning filmmaker Sara Blecher, at MIST Cinemas, 40 West 116th Street. This new South African feature film presents a gripping story of township kids as they discover surfing—a newfound freedom through water. Winner of two of 13 nominations including Best Cinematography and Best Child Actor (Tshepang Mohlomi) at the 2012 African Movie Academy Awards, Otelo Burning was also nominated for the Golden Needle Award at the Seattle International Film Festival.  The screening is presented by Autonomous Entertainment and The Turner Group and will be introduced by Rivers, chair of the Harlem Arts Alliance. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at