BURLINGTON, NJ – The South Orange Performing Arts Center and Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn are among the 21 winners of the 2020 JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Awards. The annual contest of ArtPride New Jersey Foundation, in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, now in its 12th year, celebrates the extraordinary work of New Jersey’s vital and thriving arts community. Nearly 11,000 arts lovers from throughout the region cast their ballots this year. 

SOPAC Executive Director Craig Sumberg met the news that they had won Favorite Small Performing Arts Center with enthusiasm. “We’re super excited. It’s our sixth year in a row” to receive the honor, he said. “It’s very heartening to get the community recognition for all the hard work that the staff and board put into making this a great community performing arts center.”

Paper Mill Playhouse was named Favorite Large Theatre to See a Musical, and its Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Show Choir was named Favorite Choral Group. “This is the cherry on top of the cherry on top of the sundae when you’re recognized this way," said Producing Artistic Director Mark Hoebee. “We all work so hard at what we do, not for awards like this, but for our patrons and to provide great arts experiences.” And that it is the public who votes for the award makes it even more dear, Hoebee said. New Jerseyans, he said, have other options and opportunities for live theater and by voting in the online poll "they’re highlighting the work we do in a very prominent way." 

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“The arts in New Jersey are vibrant, diverse and innovative,” said Adam Perle, President & CEO of ArtPride New Jersey, during the March 11 awards ceremony at Lyceum Hall Center for the Arts in Burlington, NJ. “We are extremely proud to host the annual JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Awards, and to honor the outstanding cultural industry that makes our state such an incredible place to live, work and play.”

The 2020 JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Awards honorees are:

  • Favorite Large Performing Arts Center: New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark
  • Favorite Small Performing Arts Center: South Orange Performing Arts Center, South Orange
  • Favorite Large Theatre to See a Musical: Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn
  • Favorite Large Theatre to See a Play: McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton
  • Favorite Small Theatre: Luna Stage Company, West Orange 
  • Favorite Art Museum: Grounds For Sculpture, Hamilton
  • Favorite Art Gallery: Paul Robeson Galleries, Newark
  • Favorite Symphony/Orchestra: New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Newark
  • Favorite Choral Group: Paper Mill Playhouse Broadway Show Choir, Millburn
  • Favorite Ballet Company: New Jersey Ballet, Florham Park
  • Favorite Modern/Cultural Dance Company: New Jersey Tap Ensemble, Bloomfield 
  • Favorite Opera Company: Princeton Festival Opera, Princeton 
  • Favorite Music Festival: Montclair Jazz Festival, Montclair
  • Favorite Film Festival: Montclair Film Festival, Montclair
  • Favorite Visual Arts Festival: Newark Arts Festival, Newark
  • Favorite Adult Art Class: Newark School of the Arts, Newark
  • Favorite Visual Arts Camp: Montclair Art Museum's SummerART Camp, Montclair
  • Favorite Performing Arts Camp: NJPAC Summer Program, Newark
  • Favorite Downtown Arts District: Montclair


Honorable Mentions:

  • Favorite South Jersey Art Gallery: WheatonArts Gallery of Fine Craft, Millville
  • Favorite Central Jersey Visual Arts Festival: Art All Night, Trenton
  • Favorite Jersey Shore Film Festival: Garden State Film Festival, Asbury Park
  • Favorite Jersey Shore Music Festival: Cape May Music Festival, Cape May


“The thousands of fans who come out and vote every year for their favorites are further proof that the arts matter in New Jersey,” said Allison Tratner, Executive Director of the State Arts Council. “As drivers of tourism and the economy, these distinctive arts destinations anchor communities in every corner of the state, and help connect us with the creativity so vital to our quality of life.”

The JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Awards are coordinated through the Discover Jersey Arts program, a cosponsored project of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation aimed at increasing the awareness of and participation in the arts.