The famed Harlem School of the Arts reopened Saturday after a three-week hiatus brought on by a financial mismanagement scandal with $1 million donations as well as and a new board that includes a new chairman, Charles Hamilton Jr., described by the New York Times as the managing director for strategy and investment at La Cité Development LLC; and new board member Mary Schmidt Campbell, the dean of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
The school was founded in 1964 by the concert singer Dorothy Maynor, who began teaching a handful of youngsters using a piano in the basement of the St. James Church, next door to the school’s current location at 645 St. Nicholas Avenue. Ms. Maynor died in 1996. The school serves 3,000 students a year, training them in four core artistic disciplines: dance, music, theater and visual arts. Alumni have gone on to some of the best performance high schools in the city and to top-tier colleges and conservatories like Juilliard. Some have appeared on Broadway and in feature films.
The school was closed on April 1st after the board of directors announced that money had run out, and that without “angels” descending with the $500,000 it would take to keep the doors open until the summer, the school would be closed indefinitely.
Those angels arrived this week with $1 million. The cash came from four organizations, two of which donated anonymously.
The Herb Alpert Foundation contributed $500,000. Hank Greenberg’s Starr Foundation and two anonymous donors are giving money, and a group of celebrities led by the singer Mary J. Blige has made a commitment to raise more funds.
Hamilton Jr. said in a statement that he was “pleased to be able to develop a strong and stable future for this incredibly important organization” and added “I look forward to working with the children and families of Harlem School of the Arts alongside my new colleagues on the Board and the stake holders who pledged their support.”