Homecoming Celebration

From September 2004 to March 2005, a well-attended Close-Out program at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on March 15, 2005, hosted by the actor and Bearden collector, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, marked the close of the Romare Bearden Homecoming Celebration, a seven-month long, very successful, high-visibility project that was conceived and organized by the Romare Bearden Foundation. On the occasion of the presentation of Romare Bearden’s touring retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Celebration was presented to galvanize the arts and educational communities in New York and to engage the entire city in recognizing the artist’s extraordinary artistic and intellectual legacy.

Twenty-two participating cultural and educational organizations, among them, the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Center for Jazz Studies, Columbia University, joined with the Foundation in presenting over 70 special events in every borough of New York City. These included art, music, dance and education programs for children, youth, and families; a new dance production; a major symposium; museum and gallery exhibitions; Bearden jazz jams; and collage-making workshops, among other programs. Many participating institutions developed new programs and special events that tied in to their program season, others incorporated programs developed by the Foundation into their schedule, while several collaborated together on joint presentations.

Through focused, strategic efforts, the Foundation successfully raised over $350,000 from foundations and corporations and over $375,000 in in-kind services for the Celebration in the first six months. Altria Group was lead corporate sponsor and Sheila Johnson and Market Salamander and the Ford Foundation provided major sponsorship. Museums New York/Museums Traveler was the cultural Media Sponsor. Funds were used for public and educational programs, design and printing of several brochures and cards, including a comprehensive Calendar of Events, and for extensive marketing and promotion.

The Celebration enabled the Foundation to expand awareness of Bearden across generations as a multi-talented, highly prolific and preeminent visual artist as well as an institution-builder, a humanist, jazz aficionado, author of children and scholarly books- a true Renaissance man of his age. It also accomplished its goal of moving the Foundation from the shadows, where it had quietly done its work over the past fifteen years, by providing a new marketing and promotional platform to present its programmatic and operational vision and future goals to a broader audience.

In galvanizing such a large and diverse segment of the cultural and educational community, the Celebration became a case study of a successful and unprecedented collaboration of the cultural community around a shared purpose: honoring the achievements of one exceptional artist. The range, variety and quality of the programs and events offered by the participating institutions, six prominent galleries and Macy’s East, a late partner to the Celebration, along with a multi-tiered marketing and electronic campaign, including press releases, radio and print ads, e-blasts, grass roots distribution of the Calendar of Events, and aggressive community outreach by the participating institutions using their pre-existing relationships, contributed to the incredible success of the project.

Participating Institutions:

  • Aaron Davis Hall, Harlem
  • BAMcafé, Brooklyn
  • Brooklyn Children's Museum, Brooklyn
  • Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn
  • The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx
  • Center for Jazz Studies, Columbia University, Harlem
  • Children's Museum of Manhattan, Upper West side
  • Harlem School of the Arts, Harlem
  • Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Queens
  • Jazz at Lincoln Center, Manhattan
  • Jazzmobile, Manhattan
  • The Joyce Theater Foundation - Joyce Soho, Manhattan
  • Macy's, Herald Square-Manhattan, Brooklyn Kings Plaza and Downtown Brooklyn
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan
  • Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Theatre, Staten Island
  • The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manhattan
  • 651 Arts, Brooklyn
  • Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Staten Island
  • Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford Stuyvesant History, Brooklyn
  • Staten Island Children's Museum, Staten Island
  • The Studio Museum in Harlem, Manhattan
  • Universal Temple of the Arts, Staten Island
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, Manhattan

Established art galleries included:

Peg Alston Fine Arts, Inc.
June Kelly Gallery
Franklin Riehlman and Megan Moynihan Fine Art
ACA Galleries
Essie Green Galleries


Major support for the Celebration provided by The Ford Foundation.

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