BURLINGTON, NJArtPride New Jersey Foundation announced the winners of the 2016 JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Awards, on March 4, with West Orange’s Luna Stage as a fourth place winner in the “Favorite Theater to See a Play” category. Princeton’s McCarter Theater won the category.

In addition, while Princeton’s American Repertory Ballet company took first place in the Favorite Dance Company category, Livingston’s New Jersey School of Ballet company came in second place.

The Awards, which take place annually to honor the work of New Jersey’s “vital, vibrant and diverse arts community,” according to a press release, saw more than 21,000 ballots cast statewide—the greatest number of votes since the inception of the contest in 2008. 

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

“The People’s Choice Awards allow us to honor our state’s incomparable cultural community, as well as highlight the passion of its supporters,” said Adam Perle president and CEO of the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation, during the Awards presentation at the New Jersey Conference on Tourism at the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City on March 4. “It’s clear from the sheer number of votes that come in, as well as how these awards grow by leaps and bounds each year, that the arts matter to New Jerseyans.”

This year, 10 arts districts and 100 organizations were nominated for the Awards. The nominees were selected by peer organizations in the Jersey Arts Marketers network, which comprises hundreds of nonprofit arts groups across the state. 

From the nominees, the public chose winners in 16 categories, with the ArtPride staff recognizing three additional organizations with Honorable Mentions.

“All of the nominees in the 2016 People’s Choice Awards should be very proud of the work they’re doing to bolster arts and culture in our state,” said Perle. “To be nominated by one’s peers is to wear a badge of honor that signifies ‘great art happens here.’ With more than 100 truly outstanding nominees, it’s easy to see how much exceptional art takes place right here in New Jersey.” 

The 2016 JerseyArts.com People’s Choice Awards winners are:

  • Favorite Large Performing Arts Center: New Jersey Performing Arts Center–NJPAC (Newark)
  • Favorite Small Performing Arts Center: South Orange Performing Arts Center–SOPAC (South Orange)
  • Favorite Theater to See a Musical: Paper Mill Playhouse (Millburn)
  • Favorite Theater to See a Play: McCarter Theatre (Princeton)
  • Favorite Art Museum: Grounds For Sculpture (Hamilton)
  • Favorite Art Gallery:  Arts Council of Princeton (Princeton)
  • Favorite Symphony/Orchestra: New Jersey Symphony Orchestra–NJSO (Newark)
  • Favorite Choral Group: Newark Boys Chorus (Newark)
  • Favorite Dance Company: American Repertory Ballet (Princeton).
  • Favorite Opera Company: Opera at The Princeton Festival (Princeton)
  • Favorite Music Festival: Cape May Music Festival (Cape May)
  • Favorite Film Festival: Montclair Film Festival (Montclair)
  • Favorite Adult Art Class: Montclair Art Museum's Yard School of Art (Montclair)
  • Favorite Art Camp: Montclair Art Museum's SummerART Camp (Montclair)
  • Favorite Theater Camp: Paper Mill Players (Millburn)
  • Favorite Downtown Arts District: Red Bank

Honorable Mentions:

  • Favorite South Jersey Arts Camp: Appel Farm Arts Camp (Elmer)
  • Favorite Central Jersey Performing Arts Center: State Theatre (New Brunswick)
  • Favorite South Jersey Theater: The Eagle Theatre (Hammonton)

Click HERE to see photos of the winners.

Luna Stage was founded in 1992 by Jane Mandel and became a professional theatre in 1995. For its first 18 years, the company was located in Montclair. In the fall of 2010, Luna Stage relocated to West Orange to “become an anchor organization in the dynamic movement of revitalization and community engagement aimed at establishing the Valley Arts District of Orange and West Orange as a hub for entertainment and culture in the region,” according to the website.

New Jersey School of Ballet has been providing “top-quality instruction for thousands of students ages four to adult, from beginners to professionals, for 60 years, according to the website. The school’s program is “designed for those who aspire to a career in dance as well as for those desiring an excellent form of exercise.” All teachers have performed with internationally-known ballet companies.