Dance Theater of Harlem will receive a $ 4 million gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the organization announced Tuesday. The company’s board of directors will also raise $ 1 million as part of an equivalent grant agreement with the Mellon Foundation, for a total infusion of $ 5 million.
Virginia Johnson, founding member of Dance Theater of Harlem, who was appointed artistic director in 2009, said the gift will go to increase the company’s size from 18 to 20 dancers, complementing the organization’s slender staff and further encouraging the development of works women and people of color.
In a statement, Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation, said that “the Foundation enthusiastically offers its support to the visionary leaders of Dance Theater of Harlem as they lead the company towards a bright and flourishing future.”
Dance Theater of Harlem was founded by New York City ballet star Arthur Mitchell in 1969 to increase opportunities for colored dancers in the world of ballet. For 2004, he employed 44 dancers, but they were all fired that year when it was announced that the company had a debt of more than $ 2 million. The bleeding stopped and, in 2009, Laveen Naidu, executive director of the organization at that time, reported that the debt had been reduced by more than half.
Ms. Johnson was named that year, and in 2012, the The professional company was reconstituted and began a return tour. Since then, he has performed regularly throughout the United States and internationally. In April, he will return to New York City Center for his annual season.
In an interview on Monday, Ackneil M. Muldrow III, chairman of the board, said the current debt has been eliminated and that the organization has consistently met or exceeded its revenue targets in recent years.
Johnson acknowledged that “hard times are not over.” But, he added, Mellon’s grant “is a time when we can say” we are back on the plate “”.