A typical Saturday at the Harlem School of the Arts would find families chatting with each other as one child runs out of a dance class in tights, or another lugs a viola. A quick bite or check-in with parents, and they would dash to a drawing or singing class.
This happy noise occurred in what the school’s founder, Dorothy Maynor, called the Gathering Place, a two-story-high room that also hosted performances and exhibitions of student work, and where performers from the worlds of jazz, Broadway and classical music would drop by so that children could see and meet working artists up close.
But the Gathering Place, which dates from 1977, was enclosed by concrete-block walls. Children and families came in through a forbidding brick entrance.
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