NEWARK, NJ — Joined on the stage by Gov. Phil Murphy, arts supporters and Newark city officials, New Jersey Performing Arts Center President John Schreiber revealed Tuesday that the theater broke the $100 million mark in its current fundraising campaign. 

The  “All Together Now” initiative, now in its second year of a five-year effort, aims to reach its $175 million goal, at which point the nonprofit arts center plans to break ground on several redevelopment projects, including more than seven acres of residential housing, restaurants, and retail and arts space in downtown Newark along Mulberry Street. 

“It’s not art for art’s sake, its for Newark and New Jersey’s sake. It’s for the sake of fostering cultural citizenship,” Schreiber said. “We're excited to expand our infrastructure to achieve that purpose.”

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NJPAC also plans to help underwrite the creation of the Cooperman Family Education and Community Center, which will devote 45,000 square feet of rehearsal space, a black box theater and expanded arts training programming to the Newark community. The community center is made possible by a $20 million contribution from Toby and Leon Cooperman, according to NJPAC. 

Beyond arts education, the community center will include programs dedicated to improving the overall health and wellbeing of Newark residents through art therapy, nutrition and mindfulness education. NJPAC is working with RWJBarnabas Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to deliver the health and wellness training. 

Murphy, a champion of the arts and former thespian, lauded NJPAC’s efforts as a pillar of the Newark community and congratulated the art’s center on its fundraising milestone. 

“New Jersey has become the first state in the history of the United States to have universal access to arts education in our public schools,” he said. “We take the arts extremely seriously, and we care deeply about NJPAC.”

Money raised through “All Together Now” will allow NJPAC to extend its reach and enhance access to the arts on a statewide and national level, Schreiber added. The arts center hopes to attract partnerships with content providers like Netflix and BET and bring its programming to community hubs across New Jersey. 

Driven by a mission to provide quality arts education and transform Newark through the arts, civic engagement and economic transformation, NJPAC’s development endeavors are focused on making downtown Newark more than a business district. 

“The mission of NJPAC is integral to humanizing the city through the arts,” said Marcia Wilson Brown, president of the Women’s Association of NJPAC. “We need a burning bush in these times, one that is enlightening the world to how we can live with one another. NJPAC is doing just that.”

Mayor Ras Baraka echoed the sentiments of his fellow presenters, highlighting the arts center’s accomplishments as an open community resource for all Newarkers.

“There is no one in Newark who doesn’t believe that NJPAC isn’t accessible to them. Collaboration and this building — that’s the secret sauce,” he said.