UTA Signs Harlem’s Iconic Apollo Theater

Dino-Ray Ramos
·3 min read

UTA has signed cultural landmark the Apollo Theater in all areas.

Located in New York’s Harlem community, the Apollo Theater has been known as the “soul of American culture” for nearly nine decades. The nonprofit theater has collaborated with artists and other cultural organizations to create and present work that centers around Black voices. UTA will help expand the Apollo Theater’s cultural influence, representation, and programming across TV, film, podcasts, publishing and events through its expansive IP.

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Most recently, the Apollo’s executive producer, Kamilah Forbes, directed and executive produced a television special based on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ memoir, Between the World and Me, which premiered on HBO and HBO Max. Prior to the TV premiere, Forbes conceived and directed the stage adaptation for the Apollo Theater in 2018 and 2019. Coates was announced as the theater’s inaugural Master Artist-in-Residence in 2019, enabling the Apollo to offer him a home for his work and ideas.

The Apollo Theater is an American institution that has put Black performers in the spotlight, launching numerous careers. The theater has also been aligned with film and TV. Showtime at the Apollo first debuted in 1987 and ran through 2008. The series featured performances from popular artists of the day as well up and comers. It also featured its legendary Amateur Night competition. The show returned in 2018 on Fox with Steve Harvey as host.

The 2020 HBO Emmy-winning documentary produced by Lisa Cortes The Apollo chronicles the theater’s storied history. In addition, the theater was part of a recent collaboration with Amazon Studios for the third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a special event with the cast and creative team on the Apollo’s Digital Stage; and, this past September, the Apollo produced one of the first live onstage concerts following COVID-protocol featuring Wyclef Jean.

“The Apollo Theater has long been a vibrant platform for artistic innovation as well as a place for audiences to come together to celebrate Black culture and the arts of the African Diaspora,” said Apollo Theater President and CEO Jonelle Procope. “I look forward to working with UTA to amplify the Apollo’s influence and the artists we champion, while introducing the non-profit theater’s mission and programming to an even broader audience.”

Celebrating its 87th anniversary, the Apollo bolsters and amplifies Black culture and the community in Harlem which speaks to, and welcomes, audiences from around the world. It is a catalyst for social and civic advocacy and is ideally situated to amplify Black voices on its internationally renowned stage, bringing the intersection of art and activism to its audience, from Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday to James Brown and Wyclef Jean. Icons such as Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., Diana Ross & The Supremes, Parliament-Funkadelic, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Dionne Warwick, The Jackson 5, Patti LaBelle, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, The Isley Brothers, Lauryn Hill and many others have taken the stage at the Apollo.

The Apollo recently announced its spring 2021 season, featuring a broad range of free and ticketed virtual events, including the Apollo Film series celebration of classic films House Party and House Party 2 featuring performances by Kid ‘N Play among others; the return of bi-annual WOW (Women of the World) Festival featuring more than 80 thought leaders, scholars, and artists; and the return of Apollo favorites including Music Café, Comedy Club, Live Wire conversations, Career Panels, and more.

The Apollo creates opportunities for Black cultural expression by supporting emerging artists through its education programs, Amateur Night contests, new collaborations and commission. Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the theater has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms. In 2019, the Apollo granted an exclusive license for Amateur Night to Yoshimoto Kogyo Co., Ltd., the largest entertainment company in Japan, expanding the programs reach globally.

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