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2022 Apollo Theater Spring Benefit

Source: Arturo Holmes / Getty

Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater held its annual Spring Benefit party this past Monday, and a bevy of notables turned out to commemorate the iconic landmark. SNL’s Kenan Thompson hosted the event, and he even amused the audience with a live performance of his popular “Black Jeopardy” skit. Musical acts like The Roots, Anthony Hamilton, and DJ D-Nice made sure the sold-out crowd stayed thoroughly entertained throughout the night.

But one of the evening’s highlights was Tyler Perry, who was honored by the Apollo Theater with its Impact Award. Fellow luminary Whoopi Goldberg came out to present Perry with the award. And that was when the Madea franchise creator shocked everyone in attendance by revealing the news of his generous gift to the organization.

My studio [in Georgia] was once a former Confederate-owned army base where there were 3.9 million Negroes and slaves at the time, and there were Confederate soldiers plotting and planning how to keep them enslaved,” Perry said. “While now that land is owned by one Negro, and I know the importance of what it means to honor that and honor the history of what it has been, and what it has been and to redirect it and rechange it.”

“So it’s very important to me that we all give and support,” he continued. “And with that said, I’d like to give a half-million dollars to make sure this place continues to grow and thrive.” The gala raised $3.7 million overall, and watchmaker Bulova also gave the crowd a “first look” at the new Bulova x Apollo timepiece, made to commemorate the world-famous establishment.

And a few days before the 2022 Spring Benefit, the Apollo Theater released a limited edition non-fungible token (NFT) to celebrate this year’s affair. Approximately 400 NFTs were made available through Ticketmaster, and they were gifted to each individual who donated to the benefit. The token features an image of the landmark taken by Nir Arieli/Shahar Azran Photography.

“Throughout its nearly nine-decade history. the Apollo has been heralded for its convening power in Harlem, New York City, and around the globe,” said Apollo President and CEO Jonelle Procope. “As we saw with the launch of the Apollo Digital Stage in 2020, it was equally important to create space for our community and artists to come together virtually, providing access to diverse voices. With the release of the Apollo’s limited edition NFT, we are reaffirming our commitment to providing a platform for artists to create and innovate for future generations.”