04/06/09

Harlem Jazz Museum to Get New Home

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, a nonprofit arts group, has been selected by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in conjunction with the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), to take occupancy of a vacant site on 125th Street. The former Mart 125, which housed small retail outlets, has been unused since 2001. If backing from developers can be procured, the NJMIH, along with Image Nation, a nonprofit that supports independent cinema and progressive music, will move into the 10,000-square-foot space, which is across the street from the legendary Apollo Theatre.

“We are excited to be advancing this innovative project that will marry the best of the development community with two, great cultural institutions,” said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky. “The project will help to ensure the future of 125th Street as a premier arts, cultural and entertainment destination, as well as a center of economic development.”

The National Jazz Museum and ImageNation were selected for inclusion in the Mart 125 project as a result of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) issued last year. The purpose of the RFQ was to pre-qualify not-for-profit organizations to expedite the redevelopment of the site and to ensure that the resulting project features space tailored to specific cultural and arts purposes. Responses to the RFQ were evaluated on a variety of criteria including project feasibility, organizational capacity, fundraising ability, community engagement and access, and consistency with other goals of the RFQ.

“The Jazz Museum and ImageNation both demonstrate a record of dynamic programming and community engagement and that will help invigorate the Mart 125 site,” said Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Kate Levin. “Their role in the development process will help reinforce 125th Street’s unique character as a creative hub and a destination for artists and audiences from Harlem and across the five boroughs.”

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem produces performances, jazz events and discussion panels, such as the Harlem Speaks series on the lives of Harlem’s unsung heroes. It also offers free educational programs, such as jazz courses and a student jazz band. For the Mart 125 project, the Jazz Museum’s proposal consists of up to 10,000 square feet to contain performance, exhibition and office space, and a listening library. In addition, the Jazz Museum will share an up to 2,000-square-foot theater with ImageNation Sol Cinema, which will showcase arthouse cinema by and about people of color. It is the organizer of the annual ImageNation Outdoor Film and Music Festival and has presented independent films in Harlem venues for the past six years.

Arthur H. Barnes, Board Chairman of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, said, “We are honored to be part of such a historic moment in the development of 125th Street. And it only redoubles our years-long effort to bring a museum worthy of both the music and the community to Harlem. Now everyone will have even more of a reason to ‘Take the A Train’ to a corridor that contains both the historic Apollo Theater and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.”

The two organizations were selected because their programs most closely fit the goals of the RFQ. The Jazz Museum will welcome visitors both during daytime hours and at night through evening performances, discussions and classes, creating an exciting new attraction on 125th Street. Given its established relationships with neighboring schools and institutions, the Jazz Museum is also well positioned to provide the local community with enhanced access to its programming.

For more information on the National jazz Museum in Harlem, visit Jazz Museum in Harlem.

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