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Harlem Arts School, Back from the Brink

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Students at Harlem School of the Arts perform during the school's annual Open House and block party. (Janaya Williams)

School is back in session at the Harlem School of the Arts. The afterschool program which has trained Harlem children for decades in visual arts, theater, dance, and music started its fall term on Thursday.

In April, a fiscal and management crisis forced the school to close its doors and to furlough teachers and staff. It was uncertain whether the almost 50-year-old institution would have to close for good—until four donors, including singer Mary J. Blige and the nonprofit Herb Alpert Foundation, stepped in with more than $1 million dollars in grant money. In addition, five members of  the school’s board of directors were replaced.

"My job is not to be a fixer," said new board chair Charles Hamilton. "We're not trying to fix this school, it's been around for almost 50 years. We want to grow this school into world class institution, and I think we have all the elements that with a lot of consistent hard work will allow us to do that."

The Harlem School of the Arts was founded in 1964 by concert singer Dorothy Maynor and serves 3,000 students a year.

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