Bloomberg News

Scene Last Night: Fishburne, Gina Torres, David-Weill

October 09, 2013

Harlem School of the Arts

Christopher Williams, chairman and CEO of Williams Capital Group LP, actors Laurence Fishburne and Gina Torres, Janice Savin, senior principal at Williams Capital Group LP, Yvette Campbell, president and CEO of Harlem School of the Arts, and Michael Campbell, chief operating officer of Cofinance Inc. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

The Harlem School of the Arts honored the actors and couple Laurence Fishburne and Gina Torres last night in the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

“That’s the guy in ‘Man of Steel!’” said 9-year-old Taliyah Whitaker, a student at the school, which teaches acting, dance, theater and music.

The school had closed indefinitely three and a half years ago, and then the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, foundations and individual donors intervened to keep it open.

The school has stabilized finances and increased enrollment by 38 percent, said Yvette L. Campbell, its president and chief executive officer. Scholarship funding has gone from less than $20,000 to more than $200,000.

Many of the people responsible for this progress were at the gala, including former record label executive and trumpeter Herb Alpert, lawyer Charles J. Hamilton Jr. and Janice Savin, co-founder and senior principal of Williams Capital Group LP, who was honored with her husband and co-founder, Christopher Williams.

Kate Levin, the commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs, said she made “an amazing new friend” working with Savin on the school.

“She is fearless, funny and terrifyingly alert early in the morning, because of her business demands,” Levin said.

Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, said the school is a social-justice organization as much as an arts institution.

Dreams Possible

“This institution makes dreams possible for black and brown girls and boys,” Walker said.

“Both Gina and I are products of this city,” Fishburne said. “New York City was our first stage. Seeing what the school is doing, it’s a confirmation. We’re not crazy -- we’re good crazy.”

Right now they’re both working on TV series in Toronto, Torres on “Suits,” Fishburne on “Hannibal.”

Frick Dinner

The Frick Collection gathered its family Monday night to honor Michel David-Weill, a former chairman of Lazard Ltd. (LAZ:US) and a decorative-arts champion, who said, “Every time I need to reorder my priorities I come to the Frick.”

Among the guests were Lazard’s Antonio Weiss and Wouter Han, and Blackstone Group’s Prakash Melwani and Anuj Agarwal.

The gala is the one night a year dinner is served in the galleries, with white wine only. The meal included Muscovy duck, buckwheat spaetzle and a chocolate caramel mousse with caramelized popcorn.

Robert Albertson, head of investment strategy at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, described the proceedings as a “fete within a fete of magnificent art.”

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Jeffrey Burke on books, Manuela Hoelterhoff on birds, Lili Rosboch on Dale Chihuly.

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net or on Twitter at @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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