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Longtime Board Chairman Steps Down at Apollo Theater

Longtime Board Chairman Steps Down at Apollo Theater
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Longtime Board Chairman Steps Down at Apollo Theater

Longtime Board Chairman Steps Down at Apollo Theater

When Richard D. Parsons joined the board of the Apollo Theater in 1999, the nonprofit group in Harlem was about to close its doorways.

“Within the late ’90s and early 2000s, nobody talked concerning the Apollo,” Parsons, a former Time Warner chief government and Citigroup chairman, stated. “It was principally closing up.”

However when the 72-year-old businessman introduced his departure on Thursday from the board he had led for almost 20 years, he left behind an establishment that, earlier than the pandemic, had been on observe to open two new levels this fall and file what would have been its finest fiscal yr ever.

“With out Dick, there could be no Apollo as we all know it in the present day,” Jonelle Procope, the theater’s president and chief government of 17 years, stated in an interview on Monday. “He not solely raised almost $100 million and led the theater’s turnaround, he expanded our inventive programming and challenged the theater to develop.”

Parsons, who was elected chairman emeritus and can stay on the manager committee, stated he wished to exit whereas he was on prime. “I don’t need to be a kind of guys who hangs on and on and on,” he stated.

His successor might be Charles Phillips, a 61-year-old tech trade government who kicked off his tenure by donating $1 million to the theater. “Chuck is just not solely a really vibrant, profitable businessman and C. E.O.,” Parsons stated. “He’s a very good man who loves what the Apollo is all about and is down with the music, as they are saying.”

Phillips, who’s a managing associate and co-founder of Acknowledge, a technology-based funding firm, has served on the Apollo’s board since 2015, most lately as vice chairman.

In an interview on Monday, he laid out a imaginative and prescient for an Apollo constructed on collaboration. “Folks may like our model, however they only haven’t been approached to do something with the Apollo,” he stated. “I need to make sure that everybody has that chance.”

Earlier than closing in March due to the pandemic, the Apollo had on faucet a revival of the Charles Randolph-Wright play “Blue,” starring Leslie Uggams and Lynn Whitfield and directed by Phylicia Rashad, which was to have began previews on April 27. Two new 99- and 199-seat efficiency areas managed by the Apollo on the close by Victoria Theater had been scheduled to see their first audiences this fall.

However as a substitute, the theater had misplaced greater than $4 million in income by the top of June and needed to lay off greater than half of its 89 everlasting staff and furlough the remainder to various levels in July. (A spokeswoman stated the theater plans to carry again all laid-off and furloughed employees members full-time in January.)

The group lately met its $4 million aim for an emergency fund it began in April, together with Phillips’s reward, Procope stated, permitting it to proceed to serve the group via free on-line occasions and education schemes. However the money infusion received’t final without end.

“I need to underscore that, to be sustainable, we nonetheless want folks to help the Apollo,” she stated. “It isn’t clear the place we’re going to be subsequent yr.”

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