The Apollo Theater is ready for a new role. This year, it's set to become The Apollo Performing Arts Center, with a full renovation and restoration of its historic space at 125th Street in Harlem, New York, and the opening of The Apollo’s Victoria Theater.
Upgrades to the theater, which has housed The Apollo since 1934, include restoration of a built-in orchestra pit, additional, upgraded seating and an extended lobby with a newly designed café and bar.
The Victoria Theater, located just down the street from The Apollo, will allow the nonprofit organization to expand its scope of artistic, educational and community programs with two new theaters; subsidize programs for small and mid-sized, NYC-based cultural organizations; and house administrative offices for the company.
The Apollo also has a new leader. Michelle Ebanks has stepped into the role of president and CEO. She succeeds Jonelle Procope, who spent 20 years establishing the nonprofit organization as the largest African American performing arts center in the nation with a celebrated impact across the globe.
“Under her tenure, The Apollo's resources have grown immensely, from a handful of staff to a team of dozens of incredible people, and from scattered programs to a robust array of initiatives and presentations across dance, music, education and more,” Ebanks tells EBONY. “The Apollo has always had such a profound impact on Black artists and American culture, and I look forward to advancing that mission and furthering the incredible groundwork Jonelle has laid for me.”
The Apollo honored Procope’s long and dedicated tenure at the 2023 Apollo Spring Benefit in New York City, which raised $2.2 million for the organization.
In her new role, Ebanks is already establishing exciting new programming for the historic organization. The Apollo and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, Apollo’s Master Artist in Residence, have announced The Intersection, The Apollo’s upcoming Festival of Arts & Ideas.
Black artists, creators and cultural movers like playwrights Jordan E. Cooper and Michael R. Jackson, artist Bisa Butler and more will headline live panel discussions, workshops and music performances at the three-day event, which will be held from October 6, 2023 to October 8, 2023, at The Apollo’s Historic Theater.
In addition, Ebanks and Apollo have launched their seat theater ownership initiative. “We are offering Apollo supporters first access to become a part of its legacy by naming a seat in the new space,” she says. “They can purchase a seat, which will then have a permanent dedicated inscription engraved on a plaque and affixed to it.”
All donors who name a seat will also be invited to The Victoria Theater's grand opening reception to see their designated chair in person.