The Intersection, The Apollo Theater’s Festival of Arts and Ideas

by Tabitha C Williams

The Intersection, The Apollo Theater’s Festival of Arts and Ideas


The Intersection, The Apollo Theater’s Festival of Arts and Ideas

(left to right) Michelle Ebanks , G.Keith Alexander and Kamilah Forbes
(left to right) Michelle Ebanks, Tabitha C. Williams and Kamilah Forbes
The Apollo Theater created a festival spanning from October 6th through October 8th, 2023, featuring speakers and performances across artistic disciplines.
Some of the invited guests were: Bisa Butler, Jemele Hill, Ghetto Gastro, Carla Hall, Barry Jenkins, Nikole Hannah Jones, Ibram X. Kendi, Kerry Washington, to name a few.  HarlemAmerica Correspondent Tabitha Williams attended a day of engaging conversation, beginning with opening remarks from Michelle Ebanks, the President  & CEO of the Apollo and Kamilah Forbes, the Apollo’s Executive Producer.
Michelle Ebanks, reflected on the leadership of the Apollo on the eve of what will be the 90th anniversary of the Apollo next year. Examining her own service and how past Apollo leaders (Percy E. Sutton, Bobby Schiffman, and Jonelle Procope) as well as artists who have graced the stage both past and present have propelled the theater forward noting that the Apollo is a cultural hub. “It’s a place for black creatives, and visionaries, and performing arts. We’re here and that is what this weekend represents. But that would not be possible if it wasn’t for our community and our audience that is here with us. Your presence is also our power…”


See her speech in its entirety below.



Kamilah Forbes shared, “This is a gathering of community. A gathering of arts and ideas. And also, a gathering of some of the most influential changemakers in our country today. That’s what we wanted to bring together here at the Apollo.” While clearly stating the intention behind the event, Ms. Forbes expressed the importance of showing reverence to the establishment (The Apollo Theater) and maintaining relevance in today’s evolving society.



Though the Apollo Theater is world-renowned and a landmark in Harlem, by holding events such as the Festival of Arts and Ideas, the theater further engages with the community at large beyond its entertainment value. The wheels of society and culture progress forward through the images and/or mediums of art we ingest and the thoughts we have. This event in particular reached the community at large, where attendees ranged in age from 18 to 60+ years of age, eager to learn more from the “invited experts” in their respective fields of business.


Prolific author and the First Apollo Artist in Residence and curator for the event, Ta-Nehisi Coates, took to the stage, evoking cheers from the crowd. Ta-Nehisi shared thought-generating ideas while expressing his sentiments in terms of the relationship between the media and its rejection or embrace of people of color, or more specifically, the cultural shift we see in the world as people of color are dominating varying fields from literature to film, the arts, food curation, and sports. Though at times, it may feel that these sentiments are only shared amongst people in Harlem or rather, persons limited to the United States with black and brown skin. Awareness is brought to the listener, as Mr. Coates states, “It’s not that this group of people is any more talented or that we’re any better. We’ve always had this. What has changed is that the struggle and fight of our ancestors are at last beginning to bear fruit.”



This festival served as a call to action because, as Ta-Nehisi Coates  stated, “We have access to places that we didn’t have access to before.  The whole idea behind The Intersection is to convene as many of those artists, writers, athletes, etc., as we could in this one place (the Apollo) to have a discussion about what that moment means.” In all of the conversations held within the walls of the Apollo there was an embrace of the community and encouragement to connect, dream, create magic, and plan! Speakers took to the stage, sharing both their successes and hard-learned lessons. But above all, sharing their experience as a true testament to the saying, “Anything is possible”.


Below are highlights that HarlemAmerica captured of the 3-day event.

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