Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 323-04
November 30, 2004


Special Fund-raising Effort, New Board Members and a New Executive Director Provide Foundation for the Future

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) Founder and Artistic Director Arthur Mitchell today announced that DTH will re-open its school this Saturday, December 4, after a six-week closure.  An emergency fund-raising campaign yielded over $1.6 million from government, foundation, corporate and individual sources have provided the resources required to re-open the School which closed its doors on October 16.  Six new members have also been elected to DTH’s Board of Directors and Laveen Naidu has been named as the Executive Director.  The Mayor and Arthur Mitchell were also joined by Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin, Executive Director Laveen Naidu, members of the Board of Directors and DTH students at the announcement in Harlem.

“The Dance Theatre of Harlem holds an important place in this community, in the cultural landscape of our city, and in the entire dance world,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “With a re-energized board and restructured management, the Dance Theatre of Harlem is poised to resume its place as an outstanding institution that represents the best of New York City. I would like to thank everyone who has made this public/private partnership possible. In particular, I applaud Michael Kaiser of the Kennedy Center for his attention and commitment to this organization and Arthur Mitchell for his enduring vision.”

 “The progress we have made over the past two months has been miraculous,” said Founder and Artistic Director Arthur Mitchell. “I am deeply grateful to the funders who have shown confidence in our mission and our future and to the dedicated staff, parents and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to allow us to reach this historic moment.  I am excited to work in partnership with Laveen Naidu who has already demonstrated great skill and creativity. And I am also grateful to Michael Kaiser who has contributed his time and expertise.  I look forward to the re-opening of the company in the coming year and to the exciting art, education and outreach programming that is to come.  I am especially grateful to Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris and Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Kate Levin for their inspiring leadership.”

Over the past six weeks, a strategic plan was developed that paves the way for the re-opening of the school and eventual re-opening of the ballet company. The plan calls for the re-organization of the staff structure and the gradual inauguration of expanded education and outreach programming, a cash reserve, a new works fund and an annual New York Season. The plan was accepted by the DTH Board of Directors at a meeting last week.  The Board also approved the hiring of Laveen Naidu as Executive Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem.  Mr. Naidu had previously served as Director of the DTH School.

“It is an honor to be asked to lead the administration of this national treasure,” said Laveen Naidu. “Mr. Mitchell’s vision continues to inspire all of us who have dedicated our careers to Dance Theatre of Harlem.”

Six new members have also been elected to the Board of Directors: the Reverend Calvin O. Butts III, Pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church and President of SUNY College at Old Westbury; Nancy Aronson, Vice President of the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation and former DTH Board member; Alison Sherman, a former Chairman of the DTH Board; Edith Everett, who together with her late husband Henry Everett’s, major gift fostered the expansion of the DTH facility, which was renamed The Everett Center for the Performing Arts in 1993; Elizabeth Brooks from Detroit Michigan, who has been instrumental in securing the DTH Company and Dancing Through Barriers (Education and Community Outreach) presence in Detroit; and Sylvia Lindsey, a long time friend and patron of DTH.

Over the past six weeks, Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Naidu have been working closely with Michael M. Kaiser, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., to develop the plan to revitalize DTH.  They spearheaded a substantial fundraising effort which yielded a total of over $1.6 million – enough to sustain the school as supplementary fund-raising efforts are initiated. In addition to $333,000 previously allocated from the City of New York and the New York State Council on the Arts, $100,000 was allocated by the New York State Ways and Means Committee.  $1.18 million was raised by major private donors including the Irene Diamond Fund, Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation, Altria Group, Inc., including $500,000 from an anonymous donor.

Mr. Kaiser is credited with turning around the fortunes of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. At the Kennedy Center he has initiated a Capacity Building Program aimed at improving management expertise at arts organizations of color.  He will continue to serve as a pro bono consultant to DTH for the next year.

 “I am confident with new Board and administrative leadership to complement Mr. Mitchell’s enduring vision and talent, Dance Theatre of Harlem is emerging from this period of turmoil to become a stronger and more stable institution than it has been in its 35-year history,” said Michael Kaiser.

 “It is terrific that DTH has the opportunity to continue playing a vital role in the cultural life of this City and this country,” said Commissioner Levin. “We look forward to continuing our work with Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Naidu and welcome the engagement of Michael Kaiser, the newly reconstituted board and other interested funders.”


Edward Skyler / Robert Lawson   (212) 788-2958

Sara Rutkowski   (212) 643-7770

Ellen Zeisler (DTH)   (212) 807-6480

More Resources