Dwyer Adds To Harlem's Rich Cultural Institutions

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[Arts And Culture Scene Grows In Harlem]

Harlem's Cultural life just got much richer this week with the opening of the $3 million Dwyer Cultural Center, accompanied with spectacular artistic performances on Monday.

Established artists and up-and-coming ones will find a home at the Dwyer to exhibit their artwork, or for musical performances. The Center helps fill the huge demand for space for artistic performers and exhibitors in Harlem.

The center boasts multi-media performance rooms downstairs and work space. Meanwhile the spirit of Uptown is captured by three screens that continuously flash images of Harlem in the building's lobby.

Some notables in attendance for the opening included Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, the Blues legend Sandra Reaves Phillips, Tap legend Harold Cromer, renowned trombonist and composer Craig Harris and the award-winning jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks.

The Dwyer, which occupies the lower levels of the building which includes condominiums and a gym for Children is a welcome addition to Harlem's renowned institutions such as the Schomburg Center, the Apollo Theater and The Studio Museum of Harlem.

The Center enjoys 7,000-square-feetof space and is located on 258 St. Nicholas Avenue at 123rd Street. The Dwyer’s programming is provided by the nonprofit educational and arts organization, Community Works, which raised money for the Center from private and City contributions.

Beginning with the Blues, Jazz and Latin concert performances on Monday, the Dwyer has a packed and exciting calendar of activities going forward. Some of the big names in the world of music who performed included Harris, who also became the Center’s first artist in residence.

The artist Faith Ringgold’s work and quilts by other artists will also be on display beginning this week. In addition to the performances and displays there will be guided tours by artists and workshops on a regular basis.

"I stand on the shoulders of those who had the inspiration and tenacity to want to make a major difference in Harlem," said Barbara Horowitz, founder and executive director of Community Works. She noted that the economic downturn made fundraising more challenging; still she and colleagues had been working dilligently for years on the project.

"It has always been our hope and dream to create a meaningful space for the cultural community of Harlem," added Voza Rivers, a big advocate for the arts in Harlem, and a founder of International Communications Association, which obtained the abandoned Dwyer warehouse in the early 1990s.

“I have been proud to support the Community Works and the Dwyer Cultural Center Initiative from its earliest inception, because of its important impact on the cultural vitality of this community and because it will create a safe haven for our youth,” said Lynette Velasco, who represented council member Inez Dickens.

The Dwyer building has an interesting history. City restrictions 20 years ago dictated that any future development of the abandoned building would have to reserve 7,000 square-feet for use by a nonprofit organization.

Community Works, which has for years celebrated and documented Harlem's contemporary and historical artistic talent was selected as the Dwyer's programming arm by International Communications.

Launched nearly 20 years ago, Community Works, built its reputation by staging theater, dance, music and literary events throughout Harlem under the theme “harlem is ....”

Community Works board members in attendance included Paula Mayo, Executive Director of Inter-Church Center; Kathleen Benson, Director of Government and Community Relations, the Museum of the City of New York; Paul Tabor of the Museum of Biblical Art; Marcia Sells of Columbia University; Cesar Narranjo of Tricadia Capital; Willie Walker of the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building;  and Voza Rivers of International Communications Association.

For detailed information about programming at the Dwyer Cultural Center visit the website at www.dwyercc.org.

The numerous guests and supporters who packed the Dwyer on Monday included: Representatives from the offices of Council Members Inez Dickens and Christine Quinn, lead supporters of the Dwyer; Cliff Frazier and Ademola Olugebefola of International Communications Association; Laura Greer, VP Programming at The Apollo Theater; Linda Walton, VP Programming, Jazzmobil; and, James Briggs Murray, Assistant Director of The Schomburg Center.

Others were: Ed Jones, VP of Booth Ferris Foundation;  Maurine Knighton, SVP of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone; Walter Shay, Public Affairs Manager, Con Edison; Janet Rodriguez,  VP for Corporate and Social Responsibility, JP Morgan Chase; Donna  Walker Kuhne, President of Walker International; Michael Unthank of Harlem Arts Alliance; Darwin Davis, former President and CEO of the New York Urban League; and,  developer, John Cross.

Funding support for came from: 258 St. Nicholas LLC; American Express; Bank of America; Booth Ferris Foundation; Citi; Robert Sterling Clark Foundation; Con Edison; Cross Construction; New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services; Dormitory Authority of the State of New York; Empire State Development Corporation; Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce; Harlem Arts Alliance; Harlem Community Development Corporation; Harlem Urban Development Corporation; The Emily Davie and Joseph S. Kornfeld Foundation; New York City Council—Speaker Christine C. Quinn; New York City Council Members Inez E. Dickens and Robert Jackson; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Council for the Humanities; New York State Assembly Member Keith L. T. Wright; New York State Council on the Arts; New York State Senator Bill Perkins; Office of Congressman Charles B. Rangel; Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott L. Stringer; and, the numerous individuals.


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