(Robert Berkvist’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/11/17; via Pam Green.)
Harvey Lichtenstein, who transformed a moribund Brooklyn Academy of Music into a dynamic showcase for cutting-edge performing arts and its Fort Greene neighborhood into a cultural hub during his 32 years there as the executive producer, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.
His son John confirmed his death. He said Mr. Lichtenstein had a stroke about seven years ago, and had been in declining health over the past few months.
When Mr. Lichtenstein arrived at the academy in 1967, its stately building on Lafayette Avenue, erected in 1908, needed extensive and costly renovation. Portions of it had been rented out, and there had even been talk of tearing down the building and using the site for tennis courts. Many members of Mr. Lichtenstein’s target audience, especially Manhattanites, viewed the neighborhood — the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn — as undesirable.
“It was a risky business, and we often landed in the soup,” Mr. Lichtenstein wrote in a reminiscence in The New York Times in 1998, after he had announced his retirement as the president and executive director. “For all the excitement, audiences and money were hard to come by.”