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Karamu House receives $1 million donation from Bank of America


The donation will be used to fund art the all-new outdoor theater venue in the Fairfax neighborhood of Cleveland.

CLEVELAND — Editor’s note: The video in the player above is from a story published on May 10, 2021.

On Thursday, officials with the Bank of America Charitable Foundation announced a $1 million donation to Cleveland’s historic Karamu House, the oldest African-American theater company in the country. 

The donation will allow Karamu House to complete the third phase of its capital campaign, establishing an outdoor stage– named the Bank of America Arena Theater– a full-service bistro, as well as updating current facilities to follow ADA guidelines.

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“Karamu House has been a pillar of arts and equality in Cleveland since 1915,” said Jeneen Marziani, President, Bank of America Ohio. “COVID-19 impacted our entire community, including the arts. This grant will help Karamu House continue to be a ‘place of joyful gathering’ for our city and help preserve this national treasure for decades to come.”

The third phase includes of the Cleveland establishment’s capital campaign was meant to wrap up in January, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things were put on hold.

Now, with vaccinations increasing and cases decreasing, Karamu House plans to hit the stage once again, beginning in October. Arts education and community programs will also return in person in the fall, according to officials. 

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“Karamu House is honored to have Bank of America as a key partner and supporter, said Tony F. Sias, President and CEO of Karamu House. This level of support from Bank of America will allow us to strengthen our mission of producing professional theatre, providing arts education and presenting community programs while honoring the African American experience; deepen our legacy of being America’s oldest Black producing theatre; and, advance the expansion of programs and services, including technical theatre training and workforce development.”

Part of the grant money will also be used to focus on hiring individuals who live inside of Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood, where Karamu House is located, and providing workforce development for at-risk youths. 

Editor’s note: The video in the player above is from a story published on April 18, 2021. 

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