SOPAC names theater in honor of long-time benefactors

Photo Courtesy of Dee Billia
Tony and Jennifer Leitner were honored June 18 for their longtime support of the South Orange Performing Arts Center. In recognition of their benefaction, the center’s main theater is now named for them.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Tony and Jennifer Leitner were honored at a dedication ceremony in the lobby of the South Orange Performing Arts Center on Monday, June 18. Former Maplewood residents, the Leitners were lauded for their long-time and unswerving dedication to advancing the mission of SOPAC to become a first-class presenting organization in the region. The main theater is now known as the Jennifer and Tony Leitner Performance Hall. A new sign above the doors of the theater honors their generosity.

The philanthropic couple were early supporters of the performing arts center, and have shown support through the past decade through direct contributions and by sponsoring performances. In addition to financial support, Tony Leitner was a member of the board of governors for many years, culminating in his being named chairman from 2009 to 2015. He continued to serve on the board until June 30, 2018. His expertise and strategic wisdom guided SOPAC through difficult times, including the economic downturn of 2008.

“The Leitners’ contribution cannot be overstated,” current SOPAC Chairman Paul Bartick said. “Their generous largess and astute guidance has led SOPAC from construction through our startup stage and into the mission-driven phase we are enjoying now. Without the Leitners’ contributions in all areas, SOPAC would likely not be on its current successful trajectory.”

The success of the regional performing arts center has been indelibly linked to the leadership of Tony Leitner as chairman, according to SOPAC. Through Tony Leitner’s unwavering commitment to bring financial and artistic stability to the 12-year-old organization, SOPAC has now completed the past five seasons with a budget surplus and been voted “Favorite Small Performing Arts Center” in a statewide campaign by Discover Jersey Arts for the fourth consecutive year.