History of SOPAC
Nearly ten years in the making, the South Orange Performing Arts Center opened its doors on November 3, 2006, presenting dynamic theatre, dance, music, film and visual arts programs. SOPAC now serves as a cultural destination presenting world-class artists in an intimate and welcoming environment that sees thousands of people from Essex County, and beyond, enriched and entertained by the diversity of arts experiences available.
The Village Trustees, in partnership with Seton Hall University, envisioned SOPAC as the center of an ambitious economic redevelopment plan to combat the empty storefronts that were becoming the new “normal” for South Orange, and many other suburban centers throughout New Jersey. Through visionary leadership and an unwavering commitment to the project, the South Orange Performing Arts Center is now a cultural centerpiece for the region, an economic driver for the community and a catalyst for artistic opportunity.
The dramatic 39,000 sq. ft. building boasts a three-story glass enclosed atrium-style lobby shared by the 438-seat theatre, 5-theatre cinema, an art gallery and an urban-style loft that can be used for performances, education programs, meetings, parties and more. Steps away from the NJ Transit station in South Orange, it is easily accessible from major highways and other transportation in the New York-metro area.
SOPAC presents nationally and internationally renowned musicians, comedians, theatre artists and more. The Herb & Milly Iris Art Gallery presents accomplished visual artists. In partnership with Juilliard, SOPAC presents the brightest young musicians from the renowned conservatory in a Sunday afternoon concert series. Seton Hall University employs the theatre to present its Jazz ‘n the Hall series, a classical music series, and its own student theatre and music productions. Lydia Johnson Dance is SOPAC’s dance company-in-residence.
Community and Rental Events
SOPAC hosts Village of South Orange meetings, rents its Loft and theatre for parties, seminars, film screenings and more. Broadway productions and other theatrical companies have used the space for rehearsals and new play development.
The South Orange Performing Arts Center has fulfilled the original vision of its founders. A strong and active Board of Governors provides leadership that connects the past to the present and ensures that SOPAC continues to evolve as opportunities unfold.