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PR- 363-06
October 17, 2006


Twenty-One Million Renovated Gatehouse First New Performance Space Built in Harlem in 20 Years

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today unveiled The Gatehouse, a new performance venue for Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall, Inc.  Featuring a 200-seat theater, rehearsal and office spaces, the newly-renovated Gatehouse is the first new performance space built in Harlem in more than 20 years.  For 25 years, Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall, Inc. has showcased work by leading dance groups, theater companies and musicians, and nurtured work by emerging and established artists of color.  Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Cultural Affairs (DCLA) Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner David J. Burney, Harlem Stage Executive Director Patricia Cruz, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Senior Vice President Maurine Knighton, Harlem Stage Board Chairman A.C. Hudgins, Principal at Ohlhausen DuBois Architects Rolf Ohlhausen, Principal at Wank Adams Slavin Associates Architects & Engineers Leonard Franco, and actors Tamara Tunie and Roger Guenveur Smith attended the announcement on 135th Street and Convent Avenue in Manhattan.

"This marks a milestone in the life of a truly remarkable institution," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall has been a cultural cornerstone for the Harlem community in its presentation of world class dance, music and theater, and its dynamic programming. It has also hosted some of the most renowned performers and continues to welcome the City's emerging artists. The historic Gatehouse, itself a national landmark and fantastic part of the City's heritage, is a fitting home for one of New York's leading performing arts centers."

"For the past 25 years, Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall has been known as an innovator in the artistic life of the City," said Commissioner Levin. "This new facility will greatly enhance its capacity to serve as an incubator of new works and provide outstanding educational programs. I am so proud of the City's commitment to making this new performing arts venue a reality and commend Patricia Cruz for her tremendous vision and dedication to the vibrant cultural community of Harlem."

"The Department of Design & Construction is honored to be a part of the dramatic transformation of The Gatehouse into a premier state-of-the-art performance space for Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall," said Commissioner Burney. "Redesigned as a sophisticated home for artistic innovation, the venue will solidify its standing as a creative landmark, providing a centerpiece for community life while further expanding the importance of the arts in Harlem."

"Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall, Inc. has been provided with the wonderful opportunity of restoring an historic relic of 19th Century civic life into a vital cultural center for the 21st Century - not only for Harlem, but New York City and the world," said Director Cruz. "With the opportunity comes the responsibility to animate the Gatehouse with art that is emblematic of the rich traditions that made Harlem a world renowned community. We are grateful to the City of New York, our community and our many supporters for partnering with us in the realization of this phase of our work."

"Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall is a growing organization with a very big vision of serving artists and the community," said Chairman Hudgins. "We are very appreciative of the friends and supporters who are helping us to realize this vision."

The City, through the DCLA and in conjunction with the City Council and the Borough President's office, invested $18 million in the $21 million project, and worked with Harlem Stage to renovate the adjacent West 135th Street landmark structure. Opening a new space enables Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall to expand the reach of its cultural presentations, increase its programming and take maximum advantage of its capacity as a forum for artists, artistic developments and audiences. This new facility will also allow the groups to offer subsidized space rental to non-profit groups and professional performance and rehearsal space for artists. Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall will operate The Gatehouse as an expansion site for community and educational programs, performances, rehearsals, and offices, and will continue to present programs at the City College of New York's Aaron Davis Hall, as it has done for the past 25 years.

Aaron Davis Hall was established in 1979 as the performing arts center for the City College of New York. In 1982, a private non-profit called the Friends of Davis Hall (known as ADH) was established to provide programming for the Hall for the majority of the year. The building was originally a water pumping station for the Croton Aqueduct built in 1890 in Romanesque style and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Ohlhausen DuBois Architects, in partnership with Wank Adams Slavin Associates (WASA) Architects and Engineers, have transformed The Gatehouse into a state-of-the art performance venue. In addition to the 200-seat theater, the interior accommodates two new floors, housing a theater with platform seating and performance stages with maximum flexibility of use.

Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall, Inc. has earned a local, national and international reputation for its world-class programming and commissioning of new works since 1979. Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall, Inc. has hosted such legendary artists as Harry Belafonte, Max Roach, Bill Cosby, Abbey Lincoln, Maya Angelou and Tito Puente. Through vibrant programs in music, dance, theater and film, the organization has developed and sustained such signature programs as the International Series, an educational program that provides performances for over 10,000 students, approximately 95% of whom are of Latino or African-American heritage. In addition, Harlem Stage in the Schools provides arts education resources through in-school residencies conducted by teaching artists. Harlem Stage is launching three new programming initiatives created especially for The Gatehouse: Waterworks, Harlem Stride and Harlem Stage Partners. Among the artists scheduled to participate with the new programs are Bill T. Jones, Tania Leon, Sekou Sundiata and Roger Guenveur Smith. Many of the works planned for presentation have been commissioned by Harlem Stage and were developed in a residency process that benefited from community input.


Stu Loeser / Matthew Kelly   (212) 788-2958

Teresa Gonzalez   (Department of Cultural Affairs)
(212) 513-9322

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