August 26, 2020

Modernization Project Underway For State Theatre New Jersey

BRINGING THE STATE UP TO DATE: A rendering of State Theatre New Jersey, which is the focus of a major fundraising project to renovate the historic performing arts center in New Brunswick.

Middlesex County, in partnership with the nonprofit State Theatre New Jersey, is investing towards the modernization of the New Brunswick historic landmark.

As part of a larger capital fundraising effort, the Next Stage Campaign, initiated by State Theatre New Jersey, has set a target goal to generate $26,500,000 for renovations that will dramatically improve accessibility, safety, and operation of the nearly 100-year-old facility, owned by Middlesex County and operated by State Theatre New Jersey under a long-term agreement.

“Middlesex County has a long history of investing in the arts – it is a cornerstone of this community. The arts bring us all together, transcends color and economic background, and is a key facet of our identity,” said Ronald Rios, freeholder director of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. “State Theatre New Jersey showcases world-class artists from around the world, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year – it is a significant economic driver for our county. This investment is part of a long-term strategic plan to improve the quality of life for our residents both now and into the future.”

With this announcement, the State Theatre’s Next Stage Campaign has reached 86 percent of its target goal of $26.5 million, thanks largely to the generosity of Middlesex County and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Other major donors include the late philanthropist Betty Wold Johnson; Johnson & Johnson; Joan and Robert Campbell; the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation; Andrew J. Markey; the Presser Foundation; the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust; the John and Susan Heldrich Family Fund; the Hyde and Watson Foundation; and Investors Bank.

The COVID-19 crisis has brought into sharp focus the immediate need for many of the upgrades planned. The campaign and accelerated construction timeline allow an immediate focus on the safety and security of patrons, staff, and artists. In addition to the structural improvements that will make the building more accessible, the project is aimed at providing a safe and clean environment to experience live performing arts and entertainment in a post-COVID-19 world.

State Theatre was built in 1921 as a silent film and vaudeville palace. Today, it is the largest performing arts center in central New Jersey and has welcomed over 5.9 million people through its doors since reopening as a nonprofit performing arts center in 1988. State Theatre New Jersey averages a total economic impact on New Brunswick and the surrounding area of more than $18 million dollars a year. Additionally, State Theatre provides free and heavily subsidized tickets to more than 40,000 people annually in the local community.

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