Apollo unveils new commissions, including projects by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The large-scale multidisciplinary commissioning initiative is funded by grants from the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Ta-Nehisi Coates National Correspondent, The Atlantic; Author, ?We Were Eight Years in Power? appears on "Meet the Press" in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
Ta-Nehisi Coates National Correspondent, The Atlantic; Author, ?We Were Eight Years in Power? appears on “Meet the Press” in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

Apollo Theater is one of the most legendary music halls in the world. The iconic theater has helped to build Black talents over the past decades, and this year, it will continue to support more Black creatives through its first major initiative, “Apollo New Works.” 

The theater announced that the large-scale multidisciplinary commissioning initiative on Thursday received a $2 million grant from the Ford Foundation and another $1 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The New York Times reports. 

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“Thanks to the generous support of the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Apollo New Works expands our commitment to collaboration with established and emerging artists of color whose work is essential to the Apollo, Harlem, and the world,” Kamilah Forbes, Apollo Theater executive producer said.

“Artists reflect the celebrations and challenges of society, and our goal for this initiative is to champion a group of voices and promote a new generation of storytellers in an effort to develop a more diverse American canon.”

“Apollo New Works” will feature dance, theater and musical performances. It will also include projects from author and Apollo’s Master Artist in Residence, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates’ residency launched in September 2019 and is the program’s inaugural artist, according to Broadway World.

The series of commissions will feature work from artists including dance organization Ballet Hispánico, the Black Gotham Experience, playwright and screenwriter Keith Josef Adkins, award-winning choreographer, Camille A. Brown and more. 

“For more than eight decades, the Apollo Theater has been a center of innovation and a creative catalyst, not just for Harlem and the city of New York, but throughout the world,” said Mellon Foundation president, Elizabeth Alexander said. “We are excited by the potential of these artist-led projects to help shape a new American canon.”

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The Apollo’s executive producer said the initiative is also an attempt to “make a major shift in equity” and  is “an opportunity to put a much larger stake in the ground.”

Many of the projects will be presented at the Victoria, a former movie theater that is currently being redeveloped and is set to open in the fall.