NEWARK, NJ — The New Jersey Performing Arts Center announced July 23 that it will extend the suspension of its traditional presenting activities through Jan. 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,” NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber said.
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,” NJPAC Executive Producer David Rodriguez said. “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.”
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 theater 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.
While the arts center’s physical campus remains closed, its virtual offerings will continue to expand this fall, as they have throughout the pandemic. During 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, at www.njpac.org/inyourlivingroom.