A Tribute to Harvey Lichtenstein

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) had its first performance in 1861 and has been located in the same building since 1908. BAM is a performing arts center that features various artists and types of performances, helping out the local community while also connecting with the international world of theatre and art. Decades ago, BAM wasn’t what it is today, but that all changed when Harvey Lichtenstein got involved with it.

Harvey Lichtenstein became the executive director of BAM in 1967 and remained in this position for over 30 years. BAM experienced a revolution during his tenure and became what it is today. In 1999, Harvey stepped down as executive director, but he had forever changed BAM into an incredible institution. Unfortunately, on February 11th of this year, Harvey Lichtenstein passed away at the age of 87.

How he got involved

In his 20s, he was inspired to study dance and performed in several companies. When it was no longer financially and personally feasible to continue performing, he often worked and fundraised for music venues, staying connected to his passion. When Harvey was offered the position as executive director of BAM, the academy was not in good shape and he figured he might as well give it a try, even though the theatre had little money and the neighborhood around it was not doing well.

What he did

For some, Harvey was “the most innovative, influential performing arts administrator in New York history.” He helped revitalize Brooklyn and turned BAM into a top center for musical performances and talent. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Harvey was able to seriously put BAM on the map. That’s when BAM began their Next Wave Festival, featuring progressive up-and-coming artists. Though there were failures when trying to recreate BAM, Harvey ultimately left behind a huge success story.

What he leaves behind

To this day, BAM is an incredible cultural and musical center. Even with a new director for nearly the last two decades, Harvey’s legacy lives on and allows the center to be what it is today. Even after he retired, Harvey worked on the BAM Local Development Corporation (now known as Downtown Brooklyn Partnership), which helped the area surrounding BAM to cultivate their own music centers and other vital arts centers, such as libraries. BAM continues to influence the community around it and provide incredibly opportunities for young and unknown talent.