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PR- 325-08
August 21, 2008


$1 Million of $5 Million Overhaul Donated by The Rodgers Family Foundation; Facility to be Renamed The Richard Rodgers Bandshell

City Parks Foundation's Charlie Parker Jazz Festival to be Held This Weekend

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe today announced that the Marcus Garvey Park bandshell will be fully renovated and feature improved acoustics, new seats and wheelchair accessible sections. The project will be funded with a $4 million allocation of City funds and a $1 million contribution by The Rodgers Family Foundation, provided to the City Parks Foundation to advance the project.  The Mayor and Commissioner Benepe were joined at the announcement by David Rivel, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation; Mary Rodgers, daughter of Richard Rodgers and Executive Board Member of The Rodgers Family Foundation; Valerie Jo Bradley, co-founder and Secretary of the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance; and Kelli O’Hara, star of Lincoln Center Theater’s 7-time Tony Award winning revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific. Ms. O’Hara sang a classic song from that score.

“The late Richard Rodgers grew up just across the street from what we now call Marcus Garvey Park,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “In 1970, he and his wife Dorothy donated funds for the construction of this band shell. Today, we’re announcing ‘Something Wonderful,’ that The Rodgers Family Foundation is donating $1 million to help fund major renovations. The revitalization of Marcus Garvey Park has played a big part in the community’s renewal, another example of how improving public spaces raises the quality of life for the neighboring communities, and the entire City.”

“Marcus Garvey Park is alive with the sound of music, but its 38-year-old bandshell is hardly younger than springtime,” said Commissioner Benepe. “Thanks to a generous $1 million contribution from the Rodgers Family Foundation, the bandshell will be completely refurbished with a new amphitheater.  With this enduring partnership between the City of New York, the City Parks Foundation, the Rodgers Family Foundation and the local community to revitalize this historic Harlem park, as the song goes, you'll never walk alone.

Richard Rodgers, whose contributions to musical theater are universally recognized as extraordinary, lived at 3 West 120th Street in his youth. In 1970 he provided $150,000 for building a bandshell at what was then Mt. Morris Park and renamed Marcus Garvey Park in 1973.  The new gift of $1 million by The Rodgers Family Foundation to renovate the facility will be acknowledged by renaming it The Richard Rodgers Bandshell upon the project’s completion.

The bandshell currently hosts City Parks Foundation’s Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, CityParks Concerts and CityParks Theater festivals, as well as dozens of other performances and community events every year, like the Dance Harlem Festival.  While it currently serves as a vital resource for the community, the bandshell’s facilities require significant renovation to allow for longer-term and larger-scale productions. The architectural firm, Cooper, Robertson and Partners, has been retained by City Parks Foundation to design the bandshell’s renovation and has already begun meetings with stakeholders to gather community input for the design.

“My sister Linda and I are delighted that the Rodgers Family Foundation will continue to support the legacy established by our father when he gave a bandshell to New York City in 1970,” said Mary Rodgers, the elder of Richard Rodgers’ two daughters. “He loved this park as a boy, and I know he would have loved the fact that a brand-new, 21st century bandshell in Marcus Garvey Park will guarantee the sound of music – everyone’s music – for many years to come.”

Since 1998, the Parks Department has devoted over $2 million for renovations and improvements to Marcus Garvey Park, including renovation of the park’s recreation center roof, restoration of the park’s paths and stairways, significant new landscaping, and rehabilitation of the park’s baseball diamond. The City Parks Foundation has produced dozens of free performing arts programs in the park over the last ten years and has also helped to support the growth of community groups around the park, including the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance. Alliance members have worked tirelessly to revitalize the park, produce cultural events in the park, attract new cultural events to the park, and advocate for the bandshell’s renovation. 

“The renovation of the Marcus Garvey Park bandshell will provide a wonderful resource for audiences and artists in the community,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin.  “The generous gift from the Rodgers Family Foundation offers a great example of how public-private partnerships help nourish and sustain Harlem’s dynamic creative community.”

“The renovation of this bandshell is enormously good news for the long-term health of this park and this community,” said David Rivel, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. “Increased programming in Marcus Garvey Park’s bandshell over the last ten years, even with its current limitations, has been one of the most important methods of reclaiming this park as a vital community resource.  A renovated bandshell, thanks to the strong leadership of the City, thoughtful input from the community, and the generosity of The Rodgers Family Foundation, will become a vital community and educational resource for decades to come.”

“The renovation of the bandshell has been a top priority within our community for years,” said Valerie Jo Bradley, Co-founder and Secretary of the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance. “Our members, community institutions, arts organizations and other neighborhood stakeholders are proud that our visions for a state-of-the art bandshell will be an integral part of the design process.  We want to first thank Mayor Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Benepe, and City Parks Foundation Executive Director David Rivel for committing to the renovation of the bandshell and we also express great appreciation to The Rodgers Family Foundation for the generous gift it is providing, which will enhance the legacy that Mr. Rodgers left in the community of his youth.”

The Rodgers Family Foundation, formerly known as the Richard and Dorothy Rodgers Family Foundation, was established in 1952 by Richard Rodgers and his wife Dorothy Feiner Rodgers to support worthy charitable, scientific, artistic and educational causes.


Stu Loeser / Jason Post   (212) 788-2958

Jama Adams   (Parks & Recreation)
(212) 360-1311

Philip Craft (City Parks Foundation)   (212) 360-8162

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