Plans for Arts Center’s phased reopening, once city and state approvals are granted, include updated HVAC system, sanitizer stations, temperature checks and more
NEWARK, N.J. (July 23, 2020) – The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) announced today that it will extend the suspension of its traditional presenting activities through January 1, 2021.
“We hate to see our theaters remain dark, but the safety of our patrons and our staff is always our first concern. We’ve come to the difficult decision to keep the Arts Center’s campus closed for the remainder of the year in order to ensure the health of everyone who visits NJPAC or works on our campus,” said John Schreiber, the Arts Center’s President and CEO.
NJPAC initially closed its theaters on March 13, in compliance with pandemic directives from city and state officials.
Patrons who purchased tickets for shows that were scheduled for the Fall season will be contacted by either an NJPAC or Ticketmaster representative and offered a refund or, if a performance is rescheduled, the option to retain their tickets for the new performance date.
During the shutdown, NJPAC has undertaken a wide-ranging review of recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Jersey Department of Health, to create formal reopening guidelines and a plan to welcome audiences back to its campus as safely as possible in 2021.
“We are learning, and in some cases developing, what our industry now considers best practices,” said David Rodriguez, the Arts Center’s Executive Producer.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve consistently chosen to delay reopening as necessary, to ensure that there’s a safe environment for our audiences, our artists and our staff when the time is right for us to open our doors. And as best practices and prevailing medical advice evolves, we will continue to review all the guidance available and revise our plans as needed,” he said.
To reopen its campus safely, NJPAC has created comprehensive guidelines that will mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission in all areas of the campus. The Arts Center’s reopening plans are being compiled with the assistance of consultants in the fields of medicine, law and theatre operation, and through conversations with leadership at other major performing arts nonprofit organizations across the country and internationally. Through these continual discussions, a consensus is emerging around best practices for safe and socially distanced live performances, and NJPAC has incorporated the best of these into its reopening plan.
All operational aspects of the Arts Center’s physical plant were reexamined to ensure they meet the highest industry standards and will contribute to the safety of theater patrons. These include NJPAC’s HVAC systems, which were renovated within the past year and now have filtration systems that meet or exceed the recommended levels for effective virus filtration.
In addition, the Arts Center’s housekeeping staff now has a stockpile of medical-grade cleaning products recommended by the CDC, and are following a new protocol for cleaning and sanitizing all areas of the campus regularly.
Hand sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the campus.
Socially-distanced and, in many instances, hands-free procedures have been designed for patrons to enter and exit the theaters and access the restrooms, concession stands and merchandise stalls.
With necessary approvals from the city of Newark and the state of New Jersey, when the Arts Center reopens, it will offer socially-distanced performances, with reduced seating capacities in all theaters.
Audience mandates for these performances will include undergoing a temperature check before entering NJPAC buildings and wearing face coverings while inside the facilities.
While the Arts Center’s physical campus remains closed, its virtual offerings will continue to expand this Fall, as they have throughout the pandemic. Over the summer, the Horizon Foundation Sounds of the City free summer concert series has been transformed into a series of live DJ dance parties which are regularly drawing tens of thousands of participants every Thursday night on NJPAC’s Facebook page and other virtual platforms. Innovative virtual ticketed performances, including Remote Control: A Mind Reading Experiment with mentalist Max Major, have drawn new audiences to explore the possibilities of interactive online entertainment.
NJPAC’s Community Engagement programming and arts education offerings have continued unabated throughout the shutdown. Free live dance workshops, yoga classes, community conversations and performer interviews are offered daily through the Arts Center’s online performance portal, NJPAC In Your Living Room.
Summer arts training opportunities, like NJPAC’s acclaimed Geri Allen Jazz Camp, which connects young female jazz players from around the world with veteran performers including the program’s artistic director, renowned jazz violin player and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Regina Carter, transitioned smoothly this month into an online offering that reached dozens of young women with masterclasses, individual instruction and opportunities for ensemble performance.
Most recently, NJPAC’s Standing in Solidarity initiative has offered our community several opportunities to take a deep dive into conversations about race, equity and social justice with scholars, activists, politicians and historians. Recent events in this series included a virtual screening of Ava DuVernay’s masterful documentary,13th, about the abolition of slavery and the subsequent rise in the unjust incarceration of African American men, the first offering in this season’s PSEG True Diversity Film Series, a long-running Arts Center program that will be dedicated to films concerning racial justice throughout the year.
More virtual social justice programs scheduled at NJPAC through October include a conversation with two New Jersey legends in the field of public service and activism, former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean (one of the Arts Center’s Founders) and Reverend Bill Howard, on August 10; a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of women’s suffrage August 17 with New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way, Governor Christine Todd Whitman, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, looking at the intersection of race and gender in that historic struggle; a discussion on how to be a white ally to communities of color in September; and a virtual get-out-the-vote rally in October.
Future programs, and recordings of live virtual events that have already occurred, can be found on NJPAC’s dedicated social justice webpage, njpac.org/solidarity.
NJPAC may host select live performances or recordings -- some with socially distanced audiences in Prudential Hall or the Victoria Theater -- before the Arts Center fully reopens. These events are subject to approval by state and local governments, as well as the Arts Center’s ability to host these performances while adhering to CDC and New Jersey State Department of Health guidelines.
For more information about these and other online events slated during the Arts Center’s closure, and for information about socially distanced ticketed performances being scheduled for the Spring season, please visit NJPAC’s website at NJPAC.org.
One Center Street
Newark, New Jersey 07102
njpac.org or 888.GO.NJPAC (888.466.5722)
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, N.J., is America’s most diverse performing arts center, and the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey – where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted 10 million visitors (including more than 1.8 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.
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