Harlem School of the Arts’ financial troubles

Posted on: April 12, 2010

In Thursday’s (4/8) New York Times, Trymaine Lee and Russ Buettner write, “The Harlem School of the Arts, celebrated for equipping local children with skills in everything from dance to classical music, had for decades been a favorite of the city’s most charitable donors. But in recent years, the nonprofit school sank into financial ruin: a $2 million surplus melted into a deficit of more than $1 million. A $1.5 million grant and the proceeds from a $1 million loan evaporated. Nearly half a million dollars in payroll taxes went unpaid. The consequences now seem clear: The school has closed its doors, perhaps forever, locking out neighborhood children who dreamed of competing with their moneyed counterparts around the city for coveted arts slots at high schools and colleges. … The school was in serious trouble well before the national downturn. Expenses soared and a hiring spree took place even as fund-raising plunged; independent audits ceased; the salary for the president and chief executive rose by nearly 50 percent even as some of the school’s officials warned that the institution might not survive and advocated closing it temporarily to restore financial order. … The school, which offers classes in music, theater, dance, and visual arts, had typically served 3,000 students a year, with some receiving scholarships and others allowed to attend free. Its alumni have gone on to professional, even nationally renowned careers.”

Posted April 12, 2010