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Longtime Board Chairman Steps Down at Apollo Theater

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

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

However when the 72-year-old businessman introduced his departure on Thursday from the board he had led for practically 20 years, he left behind an establishment that, earlier than the pandemic, had been on monitor to open two new phases this fall and file what would have been its finest fiscal 12 months ever.

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“With out Dick, there could be no Apollo as we all know it as we speak,” Jonelle Procope, the theater’s president and chief govt of 17 years, mentioned in an interview on Monday. “He not solely raised practically $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, mentioned he wished to exit whereas he was on prime. “I don’t need to be a type of guys who hangs on and on and on,” he mentioned.

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His successor might be Charles Phillips, a 61-year-old tech business govt who kicked off his tenure by donating $1 million to the theater. “Chuck will not be solely a really shiny, profitable businessman and C. E.O.,” Parsons mentioned. “He’s a great 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 not too long ago as vice chairman.

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In an interview on Monday, he laid out a imaginative and prescient for an Apollo constructed on collaboration. “Individuals may like our model, however they simply haven’t been approached to do something with the Apollo,” he mentioned. “I need to be sure 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.

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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 workers and furlough the remaining to various levels in July. (A spokeswoman mentioned the theater plans to convey again all laid-off and furloughed workers members full-time in January.)

The group not too long ago met its $4 million objective for an emergency fund it began in April, together with Phillips’s reward, Procope mentioned, permitting it to proceed to serve the group by way of free on-line occasions and education schemes. However the money infusion gained’t final endlessly.

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“I need to underscore that, to be sustainable, we nonetheless want folks to help the Apollo,” she mentioned. “It isn’t clear the place we’re going to be subsequent 12 months.”



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