By Pinky Shannon
Envisioned in 1986, with then-Governor Thomas H. Kean as a grand champion, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center opened its doors at 1 Center Street in Newark on October 18, 1997. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Savion Glover, among many others, participated in the celebration, which later aired on PBS’s Great Performances.
“The New Jersey Performing Arts Center is a theater that comes with an attitude, a personality that resonates as if it’s been here forever,” says the legendary Judith Jamison, artistic director emerita, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, via email. “The diversity of its audience and variety of events are assets that make the place so accessible.”
In 2011, executive producer David Rodriguez, who has helmed the Apollo Theater and Aaron Davis Hall in comparable capacities, was happy to return to Newark, where he was born, and build on the institution’s growing legacy. And, as Jamison notes, diversity is the key to NJPAC, as it is more affectionately known.