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About harlem is... and the new harlem is… digital experience
This harlem is… website, a project of Community Works and New Heritage Theatre Group, represents two decades of cultural and educational work focused on documenting and celebrating the living history of Harlem. What began as a community learning project in one Harlem class, quickly grew into a renowned traveling public art exhibition that toured to over 30 New York City sites, from the Schomburg Center uptown to the Federal Hall National Memorial downtown. In these twenty-plus years more than three million people have viewed the harlem is… exhibitions and enjoyed more than 200 accompanying performing arts events and interactive workshops.


Online at, learners of all ages can access Harlem’s community history through stories of the people and places that contribute to its rich cultural legacy; explore the harlem is. . .  Music, Dance, Theater, and Healing digital exhibitions, timeline, and multimedia; learn from our harlem is… curriculum activities and essays; engage with our virtual programming and commissioned art projects; and discover how the arts bridge neighborhoods create community. 


“We are proud to have created a website— —that sustains

the essential work of storytelling and honoring local heroes who are the pulse of

our communities, yesterday and today. In turbulent times like these, it is critical

to offer new audiences and new generations the healing power of community.” 

--Barbara Horowitz, founder and president of Community Works


The harlem is. . .  website is a unique public history project with dozens of original portraits of Harlem residents and luminaries photographed by Ruth Morgan, and over 100 archival images of the people places and institutions that make Harlem a cultural capital, researched from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library. It is a gateway to oral histories and biographies of local heroes developed with Harlem school students and community artist-facilitators that bring Harlem’s history to life through Visual Art, Theater, Music and Dance, and the healing work of Social Activism. 


Contributions to the harlem is . . .  digital experience include a performance by acclaimed Harlem poet and actor Daniel Carlton; a commissioned mural by artist Paul Deo; two dozen thoughtful essays from such noted arts educators and historians as Christopher Paul Moore, Robert G. O’Mealy and Farah Jasmine Griffin, journalists Lee A. Daniels, Ron Scott and Greg Thomas, and theater notables as Gregory Mosher and Talvin Wilks; and curricular activities curated and developed by scholar and educator Deirdre Hollman who has been a leader of the harlem is. . .  community learning project with Harlem schools for the past 20 years.


The harlem is… website, designed by noted museum exhibition designer Whirlwind Creative, is the only resource of its kind—a community curated local history with national significance.  This digital platform will be an integral part of the permanent installation of the harlem is . . . Music, Dance, and Theater exhibition at the Harlem Hospital Center set to open to the public in our post-pandemic future. 


“What is remarkable here is through this project, the Harlem community is telling

its own story, passing along diverse histories to new generations. This is how legacies

are made, and how communities survive”. 

-- Voza Rivers, executive producer of New Heritage Theater Group


For more information on the history of harlem is . . ., view and download The harlem is… 20th Anniversary Commemorative Journal.


Barbara Horowitz, President & Founder, Community Works NYC, and its chief curator, organizer and enthusiast 

Voza Rivers, Executive Producer and Founder, New Heritage Theatre Group, and head of the Harlem Arts Alliance 

Lainie Cooke, New Heritage Theatre Group organizer and musician

Michael Esguerra, graphic designer, designer of harlem is... exhibition panels

Deirdre Hollman, longtime educator and curriculum writer with Community Works and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Kathleen Benson Haskins, former Museum of New York curator and community liaison

Debra Ann Byrd, Take Wing & Soar director and project publicist

Randall Kennedy, longtime Community Works organizer and exhibition producer

Ruth Morgan, Documentary Photographer

Terry Schwadron, Community Works writer, journalist and musician

Whirlwind Creative, Inc., David Lackey, Terren Baker, exhibition & website design and production

barbara horowitz.jpg

Community Works is an award-winning nonprofit arts organization dedicated to building bridges between diverse cultures and neighborhoods, enriching the arts curricula in public schools and bringing the arts to underserved populations. Founded by Barbara Horowitz, Community Works began as a small grassroots organization in 1990. Over 30 years, it became active in all five boroughs of New York City and provided dynamic learning and cultural experiences to more than three million people. Community Works' historical and artistic touring exhibitions celebrate neighborhood heroes, culture and history, highlight issues of social justice and feature the work of emerging and mid-career artists. Its harlem is . . .  series is its most comprehensive and ambitious initiative. 


New Heritage Theatre Group, the oldest Black nonprofit theater company in New York City, originated in 1964 under the name New Heritage Repertory Theatre under the direction of the late Roger Furman. In 1983 Voza Rivers, an award-winning music and theater producer assumed leadership of New Heritage upon the death of Furman and reorganized under the name New Heritage Theatre Group, expanding the mission to provide training, experience and international exposure to established and emerging artists. New Heritage presentations reflect the historical, social and political experiences of African and Latin Americans in Harlem, America and abroad. It now oversees Furman Theatre Rep, New Heritage Film, and the Impact Repertory Theatre for youth.



Harlem Hospital Center, a 272-bed acute care facility and a designated Level 1 Trauma Center, has long stressed wellness in patients and community. Besides its medical facilities, the hospital has fostered a tradition of hosting the arts as part of its community identity as a “therapeutic environment” for staff members, patients and families. The hospital has been host to exhibitions by artists from Harlem and beyond and is home to renowned 1930s-era WPA murals that were among the first public art displays to feature people of color in professional and community roles. It's arts legacy continues with the installation of the multi-part harlem is. . . exhibition series.

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