UMEZ Awards Four Grants to Cultural Institutions

Studio Museum Educator discusses Glenn Ligon’s neon  Give Us a Poem  (2007) with a school group / Photo courtesy of The Studio Museum in Harlem

Studio Museum Educator discusses Glenn Ligon’s neon Give Us a Poem (2007) with a school group / Photo courtesy of The Studio Museum in Harlem

New York, New York - The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) provides funding for: small businesses, non-profit corporations, and commercial businesses and development properties. UMEZ awards grants to qualified nonprofits in all corners of Upper Manhattan through the Cultural Industry Investment Fund (CIIF). CIIF, working with a finite pool of grant funds, has designed its investment strategy to encourage long-term stability for the Zone’s cultural organizations. The result has been to leverage the strengths of Upper Manhattan’s nonprofit organizations and artistic leadership to generate significant job creation, tourism, and economic activity, while strengthening their capacity to nurture new cultural legacies. In the past few months, CIIF has awarded grants to four prominent cultural institutions.

The Apollo Theater

The Apollo Theater is a community anchor and economic driver for Harlem, a global touch point for African-American culture, and an institution recognized for its enduring contributions to American music and the arts. The organization draws inspiration from its legacy to serve as a center for artistic innovation, support emerging and established artists, and host world-class live performances and education programs that honor the influence and contributions of African-American artists and advance emerging creative voices across cultural and artistic media. On December 9, 2016, UMEZ awarded a $1.75 million grant to the Apollo Theater for the renovation of its flexible, 225-seat Soundstage as well as the expansion of the Apollo’s programmatic activity focused on audiences in Harlem and beyond.

“We at the Apollo are so appreciative of UMEZ’s continued investment in the vitality of Harlem,” said Apollo President and CEOJonelle Procope. “Throughout its 83-year legacy, the Apollo has always nurtured emerging talent. Today, our vibrant, multidisciplinary performing arts programming would not be possible without the integral support from UMEZ. We are grateful for their continuing generosity that helps honor and expand upon the Apollo’s legacy for the Harlem community.” This initiative will revitalize the historic Apollo Theater and significantly expand the Apollo’s programmatic activity, audiences, and income.

This initiative will revitalize the historic Apollo Theater and significantly expand the Apollo’s programmatic activity, audiences, and income.

The Studio Museum in Harlem

Since 1968, The Studio Museum in Harlem has served as the nexus for artists of African descent locally, nationally and internationally and for work that has been inspired and influenced by black culture.In charting the course for its next 50 years, the Museum aspires to fully embody its level of excellence on par with the world’s great museums, while continuing to provide a deep cultural engagement with the Harlem community. The Museum is now building its fundraising and marketing capacity as it takes on the construction of a stellar new facility on 125th Street designed by Adjaye Associates in conjunction with Cooper Robertson. On January 27, 2017, UMEZ awarded The Studio Museum in Harlem a $1 million Capstone grant for the addition of new staff positions and consultant expertise to help launch the Museum’s next phase of growth.

Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, said, "We are grateful to UMEZ for its important capacity-building support for our institution, and also for its vital commitment to the role of the arts and culture in Upper Manhattan. UMEZ understands the powerful multiplier effect of funds contributed to arts institutions, and deeply appreciates the necessity of having a cultural ecosystem of many strong organizations, which give context to one another and inspiration to their community."

Hispanic Federation

The Julia de Burgos Performance and Arts Center (JdBPAC) is a Latino artistic, cultural, educational and civic space that seeks to promote and enhance the quality of life in East Harlem. The space is managed by the Hispanic Federation (Federation), which provides exhibitions, performances, special events, film screenings, community engagements, facility rentals, and educational programs to the public, often at minimal cost. On February 13, 2017, UMEZ made a grant of $100,000 to the Federation, which will be used to help support JdBPAC’s current rental management and expense; create and implement a fundraising and marketing plan; and the development of a financial plan for the future stability and management of JdBPAC when the Federation’s lease expires in 2018.

Jose Calderon, President of Hispanic Federation, said, “We’re thrilled to have the generous support of UMEZ to address infrastructural needs at the Julia de Burgos Performance and Arts Center (JdBPAC). The center provides incredible artistic and cultural experiences and is a cornerstone of El Barrio. With the help of UMEZ, JdBPAC is certain to continue to thrive and be a creative space providing the community with events, performances, and educational programming for years to come.”

Morris-Jumel Mansion

The Morris-Jumel Mansion (MJM), built in 1765, is Manhattan’s oldest home. Located in Washington Heights, the Mansion presents American life from the colonial era to the present by preserving, collecting, and interpreting history, culture, and the arts to engage and inspire diverse audiences. In addition to the period design and furnishings displayed in its historic rooms, the Mansion hosts distinctive exhibitions ranging from renowned artists such as Yinka Shonibare to an exploration of the history of chocolate. On February 15, 2017, UMEZ awarded a $156,000 grant to the Mansion, which will be used to hire additional staff to manage the Mansion’s expanding attendance (see the UMEZ article on the Mansion’s success here) and thereby help the Mansion to increase revenues, build audiences, and expand visibility for its artistic initiatives.

Carol Ward, Executive Director of the Morris-Jumel Mansion said, “The Morris-Jumel Mansion has a longstanding relationship and partnership with UMEZ. This latest Cultural Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) grant will allow for the museum to further its mission of outreach to the Upper Manhattan community, as well as New York City as a whole. Building on the success of our 250th anniversary celebration, and the first two phases of our new reinterpretation plan, UMEZ's generous grant is funding new staff positions, marketing materials and community. We are honored by the support and trust UMEZ places on MJM as we grow into the next exciting phase of the museum.”