New Jersey Performing Arts Center

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), in downtown Newark, New Jersey, United States, is one of the largest performing arts centers in the United States. Home to the Grammy Award-winning New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO), more than 7 million visitors (including more than one million children) have visited the center since it opened in October 1997 on the site of the former Military Park Hotel.

NJPAC has been an important component in revitalization of New Jersey's largest city. Located just west of the Passaic River waterfront, the Center lies in the heart of the city's cultural district around Military Park and Washington Park that also includes the Newark Museum, New Jersey Historical Society, and the Newark Public Library. The Prudential Center is just to the south.

NJPAC has one of the largest arts education programs offered by a performing arts center in the nation. The program includes arts training classes, scholarships, in-school residencies, professional development, and family and children's programming, allowing students, teachers and families to interact with professional artists and explore the various genres of music, theater, dance, poetry and more.

Performance halls and other facilities

New Jersey Performing Arts Center
  • Prudential Hall, a 2,800-seat hall arranged in four horseshoe-shaped tiers, with boxes and the orchestra seating.
  • Victoria Theatre, a 514-seat smaller theater.
  • The Chase Room, is home to center's cabaret performance series, bi-annual hip hop festival, and spoken word series.
  • Horizon Theater, an 88-seat black box theater


The State of New Jersey decided to build a world class performing arts center in 1986, when then Governor of New Jersey Thomas Kean appointed a committee to decide the location and the needs of New Jersey's performing arts organization. They chose Newark over other cities because of the density of the surrounding areas, proximity to New York City, highway and rail access to the site, and a location inside a city in need of revitalization. The last reason was considered especially important. A major goal of NJPAC was to help revitalize the city, bringing people back into blighted areas and provide jobs.

The planning commission decided that the new center would be directly integrated into the city, encouraged walking, and provided a plaza for the city. Previous redevelopment schemes in Newark, such as the Gateway Center had all involved skyways that connected all the main office buildings to Newark Penn Station above street level, further segregating the city. The master plan, executed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill consisted of plazas and pedestrian boulevards, joining major thoroughfares.

After a selection process, the board chose Barton Myers as the lead architect, based on his experience with theaters and his contextual buildings. They instructed him to build a complex that was the opposite of the Kennedy Center or Lincoln Center, and more like the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Instead of a monument to the arts, Myers saw it as another part of the city tying it to residents and inviting them into it. He related the physical structure to the context by using brick, exposed steel, and glass as the materials, to reflect the industrial roots of Newark.

Groundbreaking ceremonies took place in October 1993 with speeches by dignitaries and performances by Kathleen Battle and the Newark Boys Chorus, among others. During the bidding process, NJPAC President & CEO Lawrence Goldman mandated that most of the construction jobs had to go to local minorities. The board of the organization successfully implemented this program, suspending a contractor in 1995 for failing to do so.

Construction began in 1995 and was completed in 1997, receiving rave reviews by The New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp upon its opening. The New Yorker has said that it houses one of the best modern concert halls on the Eastern Seaboard - handsome in appearance, warm in sound.


Since opening, artists that have appeared on NJPAC's stages include the Boston Symphony Orchestra; Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Diana Krall, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Twyla Tharp Dance, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Israel Philharmonic, Nancy Wilson and Ramsey Lewis, Royal Danish Ballet, Hilary Hahn, Bill T. Jones, Itzhak Perlman, Sting, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Elvis Costello, the National Song & Dance Company of Mozambique, the Afro-Cuban All-Stars, Audra McDonald, the Buena Vista Social Club, The Chieftains, Dulce Pontes, Alice Coltrane, Salt-N-Pepa, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart, Christine Ebersole, Jennifer Hudson, Herbie Hancock, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Garrison Keillor, Maurizio Pollini, Gewandhaus Orchestra, Balé Folclorico da Bahia, Peter, Paul & Mary, Savion Glover, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Art Garfunkel, Kodo Drummers, Kirov Orchestra, Martha Graham Dance, Johnny Mathis, New Edition, Angelique Kidjo, Renee Fleming, and Evgeny Kissin.

A regular season is presented by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

NJPAC has attracted over 9 million patrons (including 1 million children) since its October 18, 1997 Opening Night.

In 2001 NJPAC was awarded the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence silver medal.

In 2011, John Schreiber replaced Lawrence P. Goldman as President/CEO of the center, .

Festivals and special events

The 2010, Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival took place in Newark for the first time, with NJPAC hosting the festivals and many of its events. The festival returned in 2012. The Newark Peace Education Summit, attended by the 14th Dalai Lama (aka Tenzin Gyatso) and other dignitaries, guest took place in May 2011. NJPAC hosted the seventh season of the reality show competition America's Got Talent. In October 2012, the Arts Center inaugurated the TD James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival, Newark's first major jazz festival in 15 years, in tribute to Newark native James Moody (saxophonist). Each summer for the past 16 years, the Arts Center has also hosted a free, outdoor music festival. Entitled Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City, the free concerts take place in NJPAC's Theater Square each Thursday night in July and August.

NJPAC's Center for Arts Education

NJPAC's Center for Arts Education, where many of the classrooms and offices for the Center's arts education department reside, is situated adjacent to the center. After undergoing "adaptive reuse" renovations in Spring 2001, the building houses classes and staff year round. The facility includes a theater, two dance studios, seven classrooms, nine practice rooms, and office space.

One Theater Square

New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Dranoff Properties, Inc. of Philadelphia have signed a Letter of Intent for the development a mixed-use residential and retail project. One Theater Square is inspired by its location on a 1.2 acre site across the street from NJPAC and if built would be the tallest building in Newark.

The project is conceived as part of a continued effort to increase the resident population in the heart of downtown Newark. It is nearby the restored Eleven 80 and Union Building and the planned residential renovations of the Griffith Building and former Hahne and Company flagship store. The estimated $190 million cost will be offset New Jersey Economic Development Authority $38 million Urban Transit tax credits and federal tax credits for inclusion of affordable housing for artists.

One Theater Square is envisioned to include a residential community of at least 250 units, 30,000 square feet of street-level retail and cultural uses, and structured parking for over 750 cars to serve the shared needs of the residential community as well as those of NJPAC’s audiences and daytime commercial demand.


Newark Light Rail service opened as July 17, 2006, at the NJPAC/Center Street station, connecting the site with Broad Street Station and Penn Station Newark.

See also

  • Robert Treat Center
  • Newark Symphony Hall
  • Fireman's Insurance Company Home Office Building
  • Critical Regionalism, the style of architecture.
  • List of concert halls


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  4. ^ Jacobs, Andrew (November 24, 2000). "A Newly Cool Newark Says, 'C'mon Over!'". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Nieves, Evelyn (October 29, 1993), "Newark's $150 million answer to Lincoln Center is underway", The New York Times, retrieved 2011-12-31 
  6. ^ Muschamp, Herbert (October 17, 1997). "ARCHITECTURE REVIEW; An Ambitious Symbol Of Newark's Pride". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ The New Yorker, January 24, 2011
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  16. ^ Lustig, Jay (October 19, 2012). "What you need to know about the James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival". The Star-Ledger. 
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  22. ^ Welcome to the Union Building. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
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  29. ^ Dranoff Properties and NJPAC Unveil Plans for One Theater Square - NEWARK, N.J., May 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  30. ^ N.J. Performing Arts Center gets $38M tax credit for high-rise in Newark. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
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  32. ^ Angel, Karen (4 March 2010). "It's a wonderful loft: Downtown Newark making space for lots of conversions". Daily News (New York). 
  33. ^
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External links

  • New Jersey Performing Arts Center Official Website
  • Barton Myers Associates
  • Charity Navigator
  • Bruner Award 2001

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