An exterior nighttime view of The Apollo Theater on January 17, 2020 in New York City.
An exterior nighttime view of The Apollo Theater on January 17, 2020 in New York City.
Photo: Dia Dipasupil (Getty Images)

For decades, the Apollo Theater has served as both a launchpad and premiere destination for legendary black talent. In demonstrating its commitment to continue doing so, the revered venue has announced its first major multidisciplinary commissioning initiative, Apollo New Works.

Backed by over $3 million in grants from the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Apollo New Works seeks to develop and produce a diverse slate of 21st century performing arts canon.

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The first crop of commissioned works will come from remarkable talents such as dancer and choreographer Camille A. Brown; Grammy-nominated vibraphonist Stefon Harris; composer and violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain joined by vertical performance pioneers BANDALOOP; artist and scholar Ebony Noelle Golden; and movement artists Lil Buck and Jon Boogz.

“Thanks to the generous support of the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Apollo New Works expands our commitment to collaboration with established and emerging artists of color whose work is essential to the Apollo, Harlem, and the world,” Kamilah Forbes, the Apollo Theater’s Executive Producer, said. “Artists reflect the celebrations and challenges of society, and our goal for this initiative is to champion a group of voices and promote a new generation of storytellers in an effort to develop a more diverse American canon.”

“For more than eight decades, the Apollo Theater has been a center of innovation and a creative catalyst, not just for Harlem and the city of New York, but throughout the world,” Elizabeth Alexander, Mellon Foundation President, said. “We are excited by the potential of these artist-led projects to help shape a new American canon.”

The Apollo Theater continues to put on for the culture, and if you aren’t already familiar with any of these newly commissioned artists, it’s only a matter of time before you will be.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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