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A renewed Harlem. But a Renaissance?

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The jazz mecca, Lenox Lounge, now serves soul food to patrons while they soak in old-world tunes. And a rapidly expanding Studio Museum recently lured directors from New York's Whitney and Metropolitan museums.

Ali Evans, the museum's public relations manager, says that at a time when other museums around the US are struggling to stay afloat, the Studio Museum is thriving as never before.

"Major papers and magazines are focusing on the museum," she says, adding that attendance has jumped 40 percent in two years, and fund-raising events have enjoyed record-breaking attendance. "The life of the museum has really grown," she says. "The appreciation level has increased so much."

A freshly renovated Apollo Theater recently hosted a sold-out Royal Shakespeare Company production of "Midnight's Children," and musical giants Annie Lennox and Erykah Badu have chosen the venue for concerts.

"There is something in the air that people are grabbing at," says New York City Councilman Bill Perkins, who represents Harlem. "People are exploring their art and fulfilling that need, that indescribable need, uptown," he says.

Audiences are responding. The Classical Theatre of Harlem's recent production of Jean Genet's play, "The Blacks: A Clown Show," sold out and extended its run.

"Sixty percent of the audience was not from the neighborhood," says Brett Singer, who publicized the production. "There was a Park Avenue couple in their 70s who attended the show. Not only had they never seen a show in Harlem, they'd never been to Harlem before."

For some businesses, however, the development and media attention seem overpowering and ill-founded.

Christian Haye, who has owned The Project art gallery in Harlem for five years, is moving his gallery downtown.

He says many new galleries are flocking to the neighborhood because it is considered hip, only to close soon thereafter.

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