The Harlem School of the Arts is getting some new star power.
Noted dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp and Grammy-winning Afro Latin jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill have agreed to be artists in residence at the community school at West 141 Street and St. Nicholas Avenue that teaches after-school programs in dance, music, theatre and visual arts.
Each will rent space from the institution but will also play other roles such as teaching or giving performances, although the specifics haven’t been solidified yet. Ms. Tharp will take up residence beginning in November for two years while Mr. O’Farrill will likely start in January.
“This will raise our profile,” said Yvette Campbell, president and chief executive of the school.
Ms. Campbell has been at the school since January 2011. She was brought in to turn around the institution that was mired in debt. Her work was rewarded last month when the Herb Alpert Foundation announced it was donating $5 million to the school, money that will be used to pay off its debt and restore and expand its endowment.
Now that the school is getting a fresh start thanks to the donation, Ms. Campbell is looking towards the future. One of her goals is to increase enrollment, which has dropped 47% to 800 since 2010 when the news of the school’s dire financial straits broke. Ms. Campbell hopes that having talents such as Ms. Tharp and Mr. O’Farrill involved with the school will lure more students.
Ms. Tharp has expressed interest in working with 5- and 6-year-old dancers, Ms. Campbell said, adding that she hopes Ms. Tharp will develop a dance curriculum for the school.
Meanwhile, Mr. O’Farrill plans to teach.
“I’m really looking forward to doing some teaching,” said Mr. O’Farrill, who added that his wife, Alison Dean, played piano for Betty Allen, the famous opera singer who once lead the school. “We want to help in any way we can.”
- Harlem School of the Arts Gets $5 Mill From Herb Alpert (harlemworldmag.com)