Support SOPAC
Sounds of SOPACDonateDonate Now

News & Press May ’15

The 2015-2018 Strategic Plan for SOPAC

CLICK HERE to read the newly published 2015-2018 Strategic Plan for SOPAC. 

In 2015, there is great excitement about the future of the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC). Freed from debt and in turnaround mode under new management, SOPAC was recently named New Jersey’s “Favorite Small Performing Arts Center” by There is a palpable sense of forward momentum, and SOPAC feels an urgency to create and implement an ambitious and aspirational strategic plan. 

As the first goal of the Plan, the staff and board are dedicated to continuing the recent advances in excellent programming and to expanding the diversity of offerings. Yet they recognize that presenting alone will not ensure the financial stability of SOPAC, nor does it fully realize SOPAC’s purpose and value to its community. 

Thus the Plan also embraces a second goal of building, developing, and communicating SOPAC’s value to South Orange and surrounding towns through new and renewed community partnerships dedicated to enhancing lives through the arts and arts education. 

Finally, the Plan addresses in goals three and four the necessary foundations for pursuing this vision of SOPAC’s future and the Plan supports each of these goals and specific objectives with a calendar for implementation over the next three years.

The Spring 2015 SOPACnow newsletter has arrived!

Pick up a copy from the lobby, flip through the e-newsletter below or CLICK HERE to view the publication on your full-screen.

SOPAC Voted 2015 People’s Choice Award Favorite “Small Performing Arts Center”

People's choice awards winner

South Orange, NJ (March 2, 2015) – The ballots were cast and the votes tallied. Now, the South Orange Performing Arts Center is thrilled to announce that they have been named “Favorite Small Performing Arts Center” in the 2015 Annual People’s Choice Awards. For the second year in a row, the Awards saw a record number of nominees. Additionally, nearly 15,000 votes were cast for N.J. arts organizations across 16 categories.

“The South Orange Performing Arts Center is thrilled to be named as the first-ever “Favorite Small Performing Arts Center” in the Discover Jersey Arts award program,” said Mark Packer, Executive Director. “This new category reflects the diversity of places throughout New Jersey where people can enjoy the arts. Small or large, gallery, festival or arts classes- New Jersey arts enrich and inspire us all! We thank all those who love and support SOPAC - a SMALL, and beautiful, theatre in downtown South Orange.” 

South Orange Performing Arts Center was one of more than 100 arts organizations and downtown arts districts nominated for this year’s Awards—the largest number of nominees the Awards has received since its creation in 2008. Nominees for the People’s Choice Awards were chosen by their peers through the Jersey Arts Marketers network, which is made up of hundreds of nonprofit arts groups across the state.

“The People’s Choice Awards allows us to honor our state’s incomparable cultural community and highlight the passion of its supporters,” said Adam Perle, President & CEO of ArtPride New Jersey Foundation, the statewide arts service organization that coordinates the annual awards. “The amazing amount of nominees and votes attests to the incredible impact the arts have on the daily lives of New Jerseyans.”

Public voting in the 2015 Annual People’s Choice Awards began January 8, 2015 and ran through February 19, 2015. Winners will be honored at the New Jersey Conference on Tourism, held each year at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City.

For a full list of nominees and categories, please visit

South Orange Performing Arts Center Hosts Region 5 Poetry Out Loud Competition for Second Year

Poetry Recitation and Public Speaking Encourage Learning for High School Students

For the second year in a row, South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) has been selected by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to host the New Jersey Region 5 preliminary rounds of competition of the Poetry Out Loud program on Wednesday, February 11 at 10am. Now in its tenth year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud, presented in partnership with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.  Contestants recite works they selected from an anthology of more than 800 classic and contemporary poems. The program gives students an opportunity to master public speaking skills, build self‐confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

This year in Region 5 (Essex and Union counties) alone, 130 teachers and more than 4500 students from 30 high schools participated in the Poetry Out Loud school program. Two winners from the regional competitions will advance to the NJ State finals on Friday, March 13, 2015 at 10am at Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University as part of the Princeton Poetry Festival. Each winner at the state level will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to compete in the National Finals, and the state winner's school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The New Jersey State Champion will advance to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals on April 28‐29, 2015 in Washington, DC, at the Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University in Washington, DC where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.

New Jersey Region 5 School Champions include:

Michael Zambrano, The Barack Obama Green Charter High School
Joseph Murante
, Belleville High School
Donovon France
, Bloomfield High School
Aliyah Salomon
, Columbia High School
Dayamaris Urena
, Essex County Vocational, North 13th Street
Lauryn Harris-Campbell
, Hillside High School
Beatrice Dimaculangan
, Jonathan Dayton High School
Christina Qiu
, Livingston High School
Okasha Yousuf
, Madrasatu Ahlus Sunnah
Karrem Merrill
, Marion Bolden Student Center / Westside
Jessica Roy
, Montclair High School
Asia Acevedo
, Mother Seton Regional High School
Betsy Zaubler
, Newark Academy
Sarahnia Casseus,
Orange High School
Arianna Diaz
, Plainfield Academy of Arts and Advanced Studies
Wayne Wong
, Summit High School
Georglana Balisage
, Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy
Amber McCleese
, West Orange High School

Make SOPAC your Favorite Small Performing Arts Center! Don't delay, voting ends February 19!

2015 people's choice awards
It takes a village, vote today and support SOPAC! Voting has begun for the 7th Annual People’s Choice Awards and SOPAC has been nominated to the newly-created category for small performing arts centers. After a strong showing in last year's "Favorite Performing Arts Center" category, we know we can win this, but we need your help!

Please take a few minutes to show that SOPAC is your favorite and be sure to enlist in your friends, family, and neighbors to vote too! We appreciate your support.

Click here to visit and vote now!

The 2014-15 Winter-Spring Brochure has arrived!

Our latest brochure featuring artists such as Madeleine Peyroux, Keb’ Mo’, Jorma Kaukonen, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Bruce Cockburn and many more brilliant artists has been published!

Flip through the e-brochure below or CLICK HERE to flip through the brochure on a full-screen.

Playin' Around South Orange


Playin’ Around South Orange is a fun way for both residents and visitors to enjoy visual art and live music al fresco!

Everyone has artistic ability. You may not know how to play the piano, but most people can hum or sing or just clap along. And everyone can listen and appreciate someone playing or performing. We hope you will also appreciate the beauty of the exquisite painted pianos, transformed into works of art themselves by five extraordinary painters as well as students and staff at Seton Hall University for painting the piano located on campus.

The pianos located throughout South Orange during August and September of 2014 are here for your enjoyment. We hope that the keys to these pianos are “tickled” every day and that they cause you to smile, have a moment’s respite from your daily routine, give you an uplifting feeling, and ultimately move you in some positive way.

Click here for a MAP of the PIANO LOCATIONS.

Tell us what you think about the 2014 Playin' Around South Orange

Take our survey to provide us with important feedback about this project.

The 2014 Piano Auction is open for bidding!
Support SOPAC Education Programs and own an original art work that has been part of this year's beloved public art project. Bidding closes October 7. 
Visit www.BiddingForGood to place your bid!

Bill Billec
painted the piano located at the Sloan Street Gazebo.
Lawrence Ciarallo painted the piano located at The Gateway.
Maeva Fouche painted the piano located at Irvington & Fairview Avenues.
“Mac” McPeters painted the piano located at Spiotta Park.
Sarah Walters painted the piano located at Meadowland Park (Cameron Park).
Seton Hall University Students and Staff painted the piano located at the Bishop Dougherty University Center on campus.

Questions about Playin' Around South Orange Presented by PNC Bank can be directed to Linda Beard at or (973) 382-1035.

The 2014 Playin' Around South Orange presented by PNC Bank is brought to you by the South Orange Performing Arts Center, the Village of South Orange, the South Orange Village Center Alliance, The Baird, and Seton Hall University.

Thank you to our valued contributors Colors to Go in Freehold, The Home Depot in Vauxhall, Ito Designs in Somerville, Move it Piano Services in Montclair, The Right Fix Handyman Kevin Macvaugh,  Lap of Luxury Land Cruises in Montclair, Towne Realty Group in Short Hills, U-Haul Moving & Storage of Orange.

Special thanks to all participating visual and performing artists, Barry Lewis, Adam Loehner, Cassandra McKoy, Marguerite Nixon, Peter M. Reader, South Orange Division of Public Works, Michael S. Zavada, Ph.D.

PNC bank

"Sumptuous" Sound Design at SOPAC

Rolling stone music
When country music star Hunter Hayes rocked out at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Rolling Stone Magazine had something to say about the incredible acoustics in our intimate music hall:

"... the South Orange Performing Arts Center's spectacular sound design rendered the material nearly sumptuous."

Click here to read the full Rolling Stone article.