Donation News

Star-Studded Sing-a-Long Raises $5 Million for Historic Apollo Theatre

Since it first opened in 1934, the Apollo Theatre has been a hotspot for African American culture—particularly music. Its amateur night has been the starting point for many big names in music, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Bill Cosby, and Lauryn Hill. These days, the theater relies on generous donations to keep its legacy going. That’s why billionaire Ron Perelman’s seventh annual fundraiser is so important.

On August 20, Perelman’s “little barn in the Hamptons” was filled with big names from a variety of entertainment and business backgrounds, including comedian Chris Rock, singer/actress Jennifer Lopez, and private equity guru Henry Kravis.

Guests paid $10,000 to mingle among the stars and hear live music performances by Lionel Richie (who led sing-a-longs to his hits), The Roots, Gwen Stefani, and Joe Walsh. But there was a purpose beyond fun—to raise funds for the Apollo Theatre.

“We’ve got to break the divide between the haves and have-nots, the rich and the poor,” Perelman told his guests. “I think we can manage to do it with the arts….And the Apollo can do that better than any other institution I’ve been involved with.”

The theater that was to become the historic Apollo was built in Harlem, New York in 1913 by Jules Hurtig and Harry Seamon. The two burlesque operators ran it as Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. In 1928 Bill Minsky bought the building and renamed it the 125th Street Apollo Theatre. Even though Harlem was becoming the epicenter of African American culture by that time, audiences and entertainers at the theater were entirely white.

That all changed on January 26, 1934, when new owners Sydney S. Cohen and Morris Sussman reopened the Apollo as a theater specifically meant to showcase black performance. Its “amateur night” became a popular feature, creating space for the first performances for many who went on to become big names in the music industry.

The Apollo is now officially a landmark building, drawing an estimated 1.3 million visitors every year.

Perelman’s annual fundraiser provides the Apollo with regular funds—this year, about $5 million—to continue its support of the African American art scene in New York.

Photo: Felix Lipov /


Getty Foundation Awards Generous Grant to Armory Center for the Arts

Armory Center for the Arts
IMG: via The Armory Center for the Arts

The Los Angeles-based Armory Center for the Arts recently received a generous donation from the Getty Foundation, a philanthropic branch of the J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Foundation “fulfills the philanthropic mission of the Getty Trust by supporting individuals and institutions committed to advancing the greater understanding and preservation of the visual arts in Los Angeles and throughout the world,” so donating to a local arts organization is something that the foundation is glad to do. The Armory Center was awarded $140,000 as a research grant from the Getty Foundation, which will help fund an 18-month research project in Mexico.

“Aesthetic Experiments and Social Agents: Renegade Art and Action in Mexico in the 1990s,” is the research project the Armory is able to execute with help from the Getty Foundation and other private donors. Other grants were awarded to 40 Southern California art and cultural institutions as part of the Getty Foundation’s commitment to fostering scholarship within the arts. This initiative is called Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, and will result in a series of exhibitions of Latin American and Latino art displayed at institutions across Southern California.

In “Aesthetic Experiments and Social Agents,” the Armory will examine the ways in which social, economic, and political factors influenced Mexican culture in the 1990s, and how local artists captured that social unrest. Explains the Armory, “Against this backdrop, artists in Mexico City and Guadalajara created alternative spaces to gather and show work, often with content that engaged directly with the politics and economics of these circumstances,” of the palpable shift in local artistic practices. Without the generous donation from the Getty Foundation, such in-depth research might not have been made possible. “Aesthetic Experiments and Social Agents” not only seeks to advance the understanding of Latino arts and culture as it examines the social motivations for artistic creation, it also greatly serves the ongoing mission of the Getty Foundation.

Learn more about the Getty Foundation’s commitment to advancing art and culture, as well as the Armory’s newly funded project by reading the organization’s recent press release.


The Shubert Foundation Awards Millions to American Performing Arts Groups


Last month, the New York City-based Shubert Foundation announced grants totaling $22.5 million to nearly five hundred nonprofit performing arts organizations across the country. The grants, which range from $10,000 to $300,000 will support the passionate initiatives of 470 performing arts nonprofits, and include the formation of scholarship awards at leading colleges and universities. This is the 32nd consecutive year in which the Shubert Foundation has awarded more grants than the year before.

Established in 1945 by Lee and J.J. Shubert, the Shubert Foundation was formed to honor the memory of their brother Sam, and to sustain and advance the live performing arts in the United States. The foundation is the sole shareholder of The Shubert Organization, Inc., which operates 21 theaters both on and off-Broadway. With a particular emphasis on theater, and a secondary focus on dance, the Shubert Foundation is dedicated to promoting the performing arts, and primarily does so through its generous annual donations to hundreds of arts nonprofits across the country.

Says Shubert Foundation president Michael I. Sovern, “All of us at the Shubert Foundation are passionate about our commitment to America’s not-for-profit theater and dance companies. Our longstanding practice of providing help in the form of general operating support remains unchanged.” He also adds, “We are convinced that talented artists and administrators are best able to decide how to use the funds we grant,” of the free reign that is given to grant recipients each year.

This year’s recipients include Chicago’s American Theater Company, the Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, OR, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Cleveland Play House, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City, among hundreds of others. You can find this year’s full list of grant recipients by visiting the Shubert Foundation’s 2014 Grant List. Learn more about the foundation’s dedication to promoting the performing arts by visiting its official website.


Philanthropic People: Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett
Jaguar PS /

Academy award-winning Australian actress Cate Blanchett is one of the biggest cultural icons of our time, and one of the most humanitarian-minded. Her career has consisted of playing compelling, remarkable characters that have reached countless audiences worldwide. In addition to being a cultural leader on the silver screen, the acclaimed actress has spent many years as a humanitarian leader behind the scenes, supporting causes that benefit youth, women, human rights, the arts, and more.

In 2007, Blanchett helped launch the “Who On Earth Cares Campaign” in cooperation with the Australian Conservation Foundation, an initiative to improve the environmental quality of life for people in Australia. In 2011, she partnered with the Clear For Life initiative to bring clean drinking water and more sustainable practices to underserved parts of Asia. She has supported charities such as 10×10, Kids Help Line, and SolarAid, and has always been a vocal advocate for women’s and human rights.

Blanchett was one of the narrators in the film Girl Rising, a documentary and coinciding initiative to provide girls worldwide with access to education. She has long been an advocate for gender equality in the arts. Earlier this month, as the world watched her accept the Academy Award for “Best Actress in a Leading Role” for her performance in Blue Jasmine, Blanchett took the opportunity to address the gender gap in media and film as she gave her acceptance speech.

During the speech she said, “[Thank you] for so bravely and intelligently distributing the film and to the audiences who went to see it and perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money,” of the history of sexism that has prevented women from earning the same kind of acclaim as their male counterparts in Hollywood. She also remarked, “The world is round, people,” to which her peers and female artists worldwide cheered.

A major supporter of the arts and cultural philanthropy, of human rights and the environment, Cate Blanchett is not only an award-winning actress, but a model humanitarian.

Organizations Resources

Doris Duke Foundation to Award $1.6 Million in Art Grants

Doris Duke
Doris Duke was a horticulturalist, art collector, and philanthropist.
IMG: via Twitter

The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA) has recently announced grants totaling more than $1 million to help foster the public’s understanding of Muslim culture, through the arts. The DDFIA, a foundation supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, “announced grants totaling $1.6 million in support of arts-focused efforts to increase public understanding of contemporary Muslim societies,” reports Philanthropy News Digest. Now, eight United States nonprofit organizations will receive grants to assist them in the planning and execution of art-focused programs designed to engage target audiences.

Created in 1998 in accordance with Doris Duke’s will, DDFIA was formed to promote the studies and understanding of Islamic arts and cultures. Duke was an avid collector or Islamic art; her Honolulu home, known as Shangri La, continues to serve as a mecca of Islamic art and cultural artifacts, which the late DukeDoris Duke Charitable Foundation collected for nearly 60 years. 2,500 pieces are now showcased in Shangri La, a testament to the way Duke revered Islamic culture.

The recent announcement of arts grants is very much in line with Duke’s vision of sharing Islamic art and objects to broaden the public’s knowledge of Muslim culture. Grant recipients include Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture in Philadelphia, America Abroad Media in Washington, D.C., the Center for Asian American Media in San Francisco, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club in NYC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, and Poets House in New York City. These cultural and arts institutions were selected based on their dedication to bringing Muslim culture to the forefront. Poetry, visual arts, media initiatives, and educational programs that focus on contemporary Muslim cultures will all be awarded significant grants to best build and foster programs that align with Duke’s vision.

Learn more about the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art by visiting the foundation’s website.