Harlem Stage is the performing arts center that bridges Harlem’s cultural legacy to contemporary artists of color and dares to provide the artistic freedom that gives birth to new ideas.

For over 35 years our singular mission has been to perpetuate and celebrate the unique and diverse artistic legacy of Harlem and the indelible impression it has made on American culture. We provide opportunity, commissioning and support for artists of color, make performances easily accessible to all audiences and introduce children to the rich diversity, excitement and inspiration of the performing arts.

We fulfill our mission through commissioning, incubating and presenting innovative and vital work that responds to the historical and contemporary conditions that shape our lives and the communities we serve.

With a long-standing tradition of supporting artists and organizations around the corner and across the globe, Harlem Stage boasts such legendary artists as Harry Belafonte, Max Roach, Sekou Sundiata, Abbey Lincoln, Sonia Sanchez, Eddie Palmieri, Maya Angelou and Tito Puente, as well as contemporary artists like Mumu Fresh, Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Tamar kali, Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jason Moran, José James, Nona Hendryx, Bill T. Jones, and more. Our education programs serve over 2,300 New York City schoolchildren each year.

The New York Times has saluted Harlem Stage as “an invaluable incubator of talent” and we have been hailed as an organization still unafraid to take risks. Our investment in this visionary talent is often awarded in the early stages of many artists’ careers and we proudly celebrate their increasing success. Five members of our artist family have joined the ranks of MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship awardees: Kyle Abraham (2013), Vijay Iyer (2013), Jason Moran (2010), Bill T. Jones (1994) and Cecil Taylor (1991).

Harlem Stage is a winner of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters William Dawson Award for Programming Excellence and Sustained Achievement in Programming.



Harlem Stage carries out it’s mission through the work of the visionary artists that we invite to our venue. Below are the different types of work that is developed and presented at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse.



Through WaterWorks, we provide critical support and a creative home.

WaterWorks serves as the umbrella for all Harlem Stage commissioned and produced work, which is then premiered at our venue, the Harlem Stage Gatehouse. It is designed to provide visionary artists with critical support to create new, innovative and socially significant work and engage our community through residency, humanities and educational activities over a 1-3 year period. Through WaterWorks, we serve as a creative home to artists and affirm our role as a catalyst, conduit and incubator of ideas, we also assert our position as a presenter and producer of significant work that is relevant locally, nationally and internationally.

Artists commissioned through our WaterWorks Program, include Bill T. Jones, Tania Leon, Roger Guenveur Smith, Sekou Sundiata, Deirdre Murray, Carl Hancock Rux, Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd, Kyle Abraham, Robert Glasper, Stew, Meshell Ndegeocello, Tamar-kali, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Imani Uzuri.


The Frances Davis/Harlem Stage Arts Education Program is based on the idea that arts education plays a key role in developing a young person’s creativity, self-image and appreciation of diverse cultures.

Our singular mission: to perpetuate and celebrate the unique and diverse artistic legacy of Harlem and the indelible impression it has made on American culture. We provide opportunity, commissioning and support for artists of color, make performances easily accessible to all audiences and introduce children to the rich diversity, excitement and inspiration of the performing arts.

Each year, we enable more than 2,300 New York City public schoolchildren to experience the transformative enrichment that singularly comes from exposure to the arts. We target school age children and young adults who lack easy access to live performances and who attend schools that lack sufficient funding for arts programs. The Education Program seeks to augment cultural literacy, foster respect for ethnic and cultural diversity, cultivate young people to be future audiences and engage families in the learning experience.


We bring musicians and musiclovers together in celebration of the rich contributions of artists of color.

Harlem Stage has a rich tradition of presenting a full range of musical styles reflective of the Harlem community. We provide a venue for new talent, encourage new collaborations between artists of different eras and styles and explore the history of music with special musical tributes, panel discussions and educational programs. Some of the world’s most revered artists have performed on our stage, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Celia Cruz, Nancy Wilson, Abbey Lincoln, Harry Belafonte, Jessye Norman, Leontyne Price, Cassandra Wilson, Betty Carter, Geri Allen,Robert Glasper, Bilal, Roy Hargrove, Tamar-kali and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah just to name a few.

Harlem Stage supports music through the following programming initiatives:

  • WaterWorks
  • Uptown Nights
  • Harlem Stride
  • Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concerts
  • Fund for New Work
  • Harlem Stage Partners
  • The Frances Davis/Harlem Stage ArtsEducation Program


Our critically acclaimed signature dance series, E-Moves, has delighted audiences for nearly two decades presenting exciting collaborations by choreographers, dancers, artists and musicians.

Harlem Stage has a rich history of commissioning, developing and presenting dance. We highlight the world’s cultures and contemporary dance by artists who represent various traditions and are creating new directions.

Harlem Stage supports and presents dance through the following programming initiatives:

  • E-Moves
  • WaterWorks
  • Fund for New Work
  • Harlem Stage Partners
  • The Frances Davis/Harlem Stage Arts Education Program


We are proud to tell stories that need to be told.

Harlem Stage offers a provocative and innovative selection of dramatic and documentary films by emerging and select established filmmakers of color.

The films presented are rarely adequately represented in mainstream media and give voice to a new generation of talented, creative filmmakers whose work deserves notice. Their films excite, engage, inform and communicate ideas, traditions, trends and histories through stories that we can all relate to across diverse cultures, multiple generations and various technological/geographical divides. Discussions with filmmakers follow each screening.

The quality of the films, with focus and representation of emerging artists of color, has garnered acclaim and demand—from the region and nationally—as festivals and venues increasingly request the films presented by Harlem Stage for their own programs.

Harlem Stage presents film through the following programming initiatives:

  • Harlem Stage Partners
  • Dive Deeper


The architectural beauty of the Harlem Stage Gatehouse provides a unique and awesome theater experience.

Harlem Stage presents performances in traditional and non-traditional theater forms that speak to our Harlem community. From spoken word and performance artists exploring new forms to staged readings of new works. The opening of the Harlem Stage Gatehouse in 2006 enabled us to expand our capacity to present theater through extended play runs. In addition to commissioning new work, we have partnered with organizations such as the Classical Theatre of Harlem and Hi-Arts to continue and expand on this rich tradition.

Harlem Stage supports and presents theater through the following programming initiatives:

  • WaterWorks
  • Harlem Stage Partners
  • Fund for New Work


Our audiences are engaged with deeper insight that extends beyond the performance.

Dive Deeper is Harlem Stage’s humanities initiative designed to give audiences the chance to interact with artists and take part in the creative process. The initiative’s components include both live and virtual activities such as open rehearsals, pre- and post-performance discussions, free films that complement and enlighten the issues presented in staged performances, online content that expands audience knowledge about artists and the creative process and much more. Dive Deeper offers the chance to expand the ‘Harlem Stage Experience,’ by illustrating Harlem Stage’s role as a catalyst, a conduit and an incubator of ideas that flow from the artistic programs we present.



The Harlem Stage Artist Circle is a dynamic community of visionary and high-profile artists who are committed to the values, mission and work of Harlem Stage. Our Artist Circle represents the social and creative wealth of our community and is an example of what we stand for and all that we aspire to.


Kyle Abraham
Ayad Akhtar
Chuck Cooper
Hugh Dancy
Claire Danes
Ruby Dee*
Fab 5 Freddy
Roger Guenveur Smith
Craig Harris
Nona Hendryx
Dulé Hill
Warrington Hudlin

Ruben Santiago Hudson
Vijay Iyer
José James
Judith Jamison
Bill T. Jones
Tania León
Jesse L. Martin
S. Epatha Merkerson
Emeline Michel
Alicia Hall Moran
Jason Moran
Manu Narayan
Estelle Parsons

Wendell Pierce
Gloria Reuben
Carl Hancock Rux
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
Dominic Taylor
John Douglas Thompson
Tracie Thoms
Carrie Mae Weems
Lawrence Weschler
Randy Weston*
Jeffrey Wright


* In memoriam