###Contact: Leon Wynter (HCDC) | firstname.lastname@example.org | 212-961-4347 www.harlemcdc.com ESD Press Hotline | 1-800-260-7313
This summer, Apollo Theater Foundation expected to break ground on a "Walk of Fame" honoring legendary entertainers in celebration of theater's 75th Anniversary New York, NY - Harlem Community Development Corporation (Harlem CDC) announced today that it will provide the Apollo Theater Foundation (ATF) with a $75,000 grant to go towards the partial financing of the design, planning and other costs associated with mounting the Apollo Theater "Walk of Fame" project this summer. The "Walk of Fame" is part of the Apollo 75th Anniversary Season series of special programming and events running from June 2009 through December 2010. To honor the artists whose legacies are linked to the Apollo stage, the theater plans to install a walkway featuring brass plates with the signatures of stars that have been inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame. These honorees include the incomparable jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald, ‘rock n' roll' pioneer Richard "Little Richard" Penniman, soul diva Gladys Knight, and the "Godfather of Soul," James Brown. "The Apollo is the musical soul of our community," said Harlem CDC board member Congressman Charles Rangel. "To this day, the Apollo stage remains a necessary step on the road to stardom for many of America's greatest entertainers. The Walk of Fame will be another star in the Apollo constellation. We should all thank Percy Sutton, a founder of the Apollo Theater Foundation, for bringing the Apollo back to life so we can enjoy this moment in the great theater's history." The non-profit ATF, established after New York State acquired the Apollo in 1984, leases the theater from Harlem CDC and its parent Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). The Harlem CDC grant last December of up to $75,000, out of a total projected cost of $214,000 to build the Walk Of Fame, is part of a larger ATF campaign to raise $96 million in public/private partnership funds to reinvigorate the facility and its programming. With $52 million of its goal achieved, the Apollo has installed 1,500 new house seats, restored the 125th Street façade and installed a gleaming, state-of-the-art electronic marquee to rival the Broadway houses in Times Square. "I am excited about the project, and extremely gratified to know that Harlem CDC is contributing in a very significant way to this land-marked cultural icon," said Harlem CDC President Curtis L. Archer. "We expect this project to act as a catalyst for future development along 125th Street, which has been identified as Harlem's cultural and commercial gateway to the world." Harlem CDC supports the Apollo's pivotal role in the economic development of Upper Manhattan in general and the commercial hub of 125th Street in particular. Harlem is the third most popular tourist destination in Manhattan, drawing 1.3 million visitors annually. The Apollo is Harlem's premiere attraction. Domestic and international tourists comprise 42 percent of the theater's audience, representing nearly 260,000 visitors drawn to Harlem to add revenue to large and small businesses along the 125th Street corridor. "The Apollo is the premier destination for visitors-local, domestic and international-to Harlem," said Wayne Benjamin, Harlem CDC Director of Residential Development. "Its contribution to the local economy is significant, noting Harlem CDC's increased focus in recent years on nurturing Harlem's arts and culture economic infrastructure." The Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc., was established as a nonprofit, charitable organization in 1991 and is dedicated to the preservation and development of the Apollo Theater. The Foundation brought stability to the Theater's operations and focused its efforts on reinvigorating the Apollo legend. For more information on ATF and the Apollo 75th Anniversary Season visit http://www.apollotheater.org Harlem Community Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Empire State Development Corporation, serves the greater Harlem community through planning and implementing a range of community development and revitalization initiatives for restoring Upper Manhattan as an economically stable and culturally vibrant community. The Board of Directors of Harlem CDC established the Community Initiatives Program in 1991 to make grants and loans to community-based organizations to assist feasibility, planning or design studies related to future economic development projects. For more information on Harlem CDC and its economic development and urban planning initiatives visit www.harlemcdc.org.