The Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc. announced the formation of its new management team. Derek Johnson, a senior executive at AOL Time Warner, has been named President of the Apollo Theater Foundation, effective May 1st. David Rodriguez, the former Executive Director of the John Harms Center for the Arts in Englewood, New Jersey, assumes the same role at the Apollo Theater, effective immediately, reporting to Mr. Johnson.
In making the announcement, Richard Parsons, Chairman of ATF's Board of Directors, said: "At the dawn of this important moment in the Apollo's history, we are fortunate to have two executives of Derek and David's capabilities. They each bring important skills and experiences to their respective posts, and together, make for the kind of energetic, dynamic and creative leadership this important challenge warrants. They are an ideal team." Mr. Parsons added, "I have every confidence that together we will realize the vision that we inherited from and share with Congressman Rangel: That a revitalized Apollo can be the catalyst for Harlem's economic and cultural renaissance."
Echoing Parsons enthusiasm, ATF Vice-Chairs, Beverly Sills and Arthur Hill said: "We are thrilled to have attracted such capable and accomplished leaders in Derek and David. Not only do they embody the vision, talent and commitment the Apollo desperately needs, but their mix of business and creative expertise bodes well for our future. We know our colleagues on the Board join us in offering them our most ardent support."
Mr. Johnson, is a lawyer by training, and a seven-year veteran of Time Warner, the media and entertainment firm that recently merged with AOL. In addition to his entertainment and legal credentials, Johnson has an extensive background in government, politics and real estate and has long been associated with economic development initiatives in the Harlem community. Johnson holds a law degree, a masters in public administration and an undergraduate degree in political science from Columbia University. He and his wife, along with their two children, live in Harlem. Johnson will report to ATF's Board of Directors.
Mr. Rodriguez, is a seasoned executive in the performing arts community. During his three-year tenure at John Harms, Rodriguez oversaw the theater's renovation, and improved the Theater's artistic and financial standing. Prior to his affiliation with the Harms, Rodriguez was Executive Director of Aaron Davis Hall, a performing arts venue in Harlem, for seven years. Rodriguez has also produced concerts at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Smithsonian, Boston's Jordan Hall and UCLA. He is a graduate of Mansfield University where he studied arts administration. Rodriguez also studied music at the Eastman School of Music and actually performed at the Apollo during his days as a musician.
Commenting on his appointment, Mr. Johnson said: "I am deeply honored, and humbled, by the confidence the Board has expressed in me. The Apollo is a unique institution, with a historical and cultural significance that is truly distinct, and a brand that is without peer. The opportunity to shepherd its turn-around is, without a doubt, the culmination of my professional experiences to date. I look forward to the challenge."
Mr. Rodriguez said: "I feel there is a window of opportunity to make a difference at the Apollo, to both enhance its historic past while moving it into the 2lst Century, both programmatically and technologically. In that sense, this was an offer too important to refuse. There is no more historic shrine for the performing arts than the Apollo."
The Apollo Theater Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation formed in 1992 with a goal of embarking upon the preservation, restoration and revitalization of the World Famous Apollo Theater(TM). Located on 125th Street in the heart of Harlem, the Apollo is a long-established icon of Black American culture and entertainment. With roots dating back to the early 1900's, the Apollo emerged over time as a "must-play" performance hall for aspiring Black amateur artists. Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown and the Jackson Five are just a few of the many legendary acts that performed at the Apollo as amateurs.