April 22 (Bloomberg) -- The foundations run by American International Group Inc. former Chief Executive Officer Hank Greenberg and trumpeter Herb Alpert helped raise $1 million to keep the Harlem School of the Arts open.
The 46-year-old school closed indefinitely last month because it needed at least $500,000 to stay open. Kate D. Levin, commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, said her office intervened and asked foundations and individuals to help save the school from closing.
Alpert’s foundation was the lead donor with a $500,000 gift, Levin said. The Starr Foundation, of which Greenberg is chairman, donated $250,000, said foundation president Florence Davis in an interview. The money raised will allow the school to remain open through its summer program.
“We’ve been very supportive of arts and learning throughout the country,” Greenberg said in an interview at the school, adding that the foundation aims to support “talent that would otherwise have a difficult time pursuing an artistic career.”
The school also announced a new board, led by Charles J. Hamilton Jr., a partner at the real-estate firm of La Cite Development LLC in New York. He replaces Christopher Paci, who stepped down this week along with the other board members.
“I am not a figurehead,” Hamilton said at the press conference. “When I get involved in things, I take it seriously. I roll up my sleeves. I’m not bashful. You all better get used to seeing me.”
Joining Hamilton on the board are UBS Managing Director Milton Irving; Ephraim Emmanuel, president of the school’s parents association; Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of New York University Tisch School of the Arts; and Janice Savin Williams, co-founder and senior principal of the Williams Capital Group LP.
Wall Street Help
The school was founded in 1964 to teach dance, music, theater and visual arts to about 3,000 students a year. In past years, the school’s corporate and Wall Street supporters included Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Foundation and the family foundation of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chairman Lloyd Blankfein.
When the school ceased operations, questions had been raised about its “lack of annual audits,” and its “handling of payroll tax issues,” Levin said. Hamilton said Levin and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg approached him about taking over the board’s chairmanship. Bloomberg is majority owner of Bloomberg News parent company, Bloomberg LP.
“There was a belief quite frankly that they didn’t have expenses under control and questions as to whether or not they could bring it together, so we decided to help,” Greenberg said.
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