The Billie Holiday Theatre was founded in 1972 by the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, a community development corporation whose mission is to be a catalyst for the progressive improvement of the quality of life for the people of Bedford Stuyvesant.
The Center for Arts & Culture at Restoration promotes the rich legacy of the African and Caribbean Diaspora, while using the arts as a vehicle for creative placemaking, community enrichment and presenting art that seeks to strengthen democratic values, promote social justice and take on dialogues that inform and impact our community.
Home to such assets as the award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre, the historic Skylight Gallery, and Tony Award-winning Ronald K. Brown/Evidence Dance Company, the CAC reached over 43,000 last year through its multi-disciplinary arts instruction and year-round presenting programming.
Many of today's successful actors, writers, designers, and musicians developed their craft at The Billie Holiday Theatre. Actors including Samuel L. Jackson, Debbie Allen, Tichina Arnold, Bill Cobbs, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Carol Woods, Elaine Graham and Ebony JoAnn to name a few.
The great political satirist/comic, Dick Gregory made his theatrical comeback after twenty years on the BHT stage, and audiences were also treated to the reunion of Good Times stars Ralph Carter and John Amos.
The legendary William "Smokey" Robinson had his first musical, Raisin' Hell, produced at BHT, while other notable authors whose debut plays were produced at BHT include: Samm Art Williams (long before his Tony Award nominated play, Home), legendary jazz musician Weldon Irvine (lyricist for the classic anthem "To Be Young, Gifted and Black"), and John Henry Redwood (The Old Settler).
Musicians Victor Willis and Alex Briley met and performed at BHT eight months prior to forming The Village People, and Grammy Award winning bassist and producer extraordinaire Marcus Miller performed in the BHT pit band.