The Legendary Harlem Stage Presents Its 2019 Annual Gala Celebrating The Disrupters

On Monday, May 20, 2019, at 6 pm, Harlem Stage, the legendary uptown performing arts venue celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, a period known for a flourishing of art and culture led by Black artists. Guests will be dressed in attire inspired by the roaring ‘20s, to mark the era.

This year in commemoration of the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem Stage’s annual gala celebrates Disrupters: Then, Now, and in the Future; those who shake up the status quo in every field by pushing the boundaries of innovation. The gala is a tribute to artists, activists, and creators, and celebrates Harlem Stage’s more than 35 years as an institution known for commissioning and presenting new, innovative work that reflects and responds to the complex conditions that shape the lives of our audiences, artists, and communities of color.

This special event supports Harlem Stage‘s critical mission to commission and present works by visionary artists of color and supports the thousands of New York City schoolchildren Harlem Stage serves each year through the Frances Davis/Harlem Stage Arts Education Program. Co-chairs of the gala are Ron Simons and Jenette Kahn.

The 2019 gala will honor several individuals and organizations who embody Harlem Stage’s mission.

The Philanthropy Award will be presented to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), which has helped Harlem Stage fulfill its artistic mission in multiple ways. Their support has been critical in helping the Frances Davis/Harlem Stage Education program expose thousands of students each year to the arts. SNF made it possible for Harlem Stage to participate in its first-ever international live stream event, Babylon Beyond Borders, where artists in four countries were able to engage in dialogue around common injustice. Exclusive support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation made it possible for Harlem Stage to present an unprecedented five-week run of Antigone in Ferguson, a groundbreaking production by Theater of War inspired by the tragic death of Michael Brown. This production was free to the public, and more than 4,000 people experienced this critical work.

“The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is deeply honored by this award and is proud to support Harlem Stage in offering a rich diversity of performing arts opportunities and sharing them with the public at large through educational outreach,” said SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos. “Last year’s run of Antigone in Ferguson demonstrates how Harlem Stage makes possible performances that are simultaneously accessible to audiences of all types and provocative of important conversations.”

The Transformative Artist Award will be given to Stew of the acclaimed band Stew and The Negro Problem. Stew is a lauded musician who traversed the musical sphere into a theatre to become a TONY Award-winning playwright with his play “Passing Strange.” In 2015 Stew, along with artistic partner Heidi Rodewald, performed Notes of a Native Song, a work they created that included a collage of songs, text, and video inspired by James Baldwin. Since Harlem Stage commissioned and produced this groundbreaking work, as part of a yearlong celebration honoring James Baldwin, it has traveled internationally and has been recorded.

The Emerging Artist Award will be presented to Savannah Harris, a rising star in the jazz world. Known for her unique and technical style of drumming, she has graced the Kennedy Center stage and works with Jazz at Lincoln Center.

This intimate evening is hosted by MSNBC Political Analyst and host of “AM Joy” Joy-Ann Reid and will include appearances and performances by:

Vocalist, record producer, songwriter, musician, author, and actress Nona Hendryx, accompanied by percussionist and member of the iconic rock band, Living Colour Will Calhoun; Award-winning poet, playwright, novelist, actor, director, singer/songwriter Carl Hancock Rux accompanied by guitarist, songwriter, and founder of the iconic rock band, Living Colour, Vernon Reid;

Jazz vocalist Brianna Thomas Trio; and radio host on WQXR 105.9 FM, Terrance McKnight

Anticipated Guests include Hip-Hop pioneer Harlem resident Fab 5 Freddy, poet and musician Saul Williams, Tony Award-winning actress LaChanze, actress and activist Kathleen Chalfant, actress and director Estelle Parsons, international recording artist Jeremiah Abiah, and Obie Award-winning actress Tamara Tunie.

May 20, 2019, 6 PM ET

Harlem Stage, 150 Convent Avenue (at West 135thStreet), Harlem, New York, www.HarlemStage.org

Photo credit: Nona Hendrix.

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