The South Orange Performing Arts Center Staff, Board, and community mourn the loss of two devoted supporters Peter Shapiro and Samuel Convissor.  Everyone in SOPAC’s community is deeply grateful for their decades of leadership, philanthropy, and tireless support of the arts in our community.

Both men have supported SOPAC since its inception in 2006.  Their decades of commitment helped build SOPAC into the vibrant arts destination it is today.  We will strive to continue building on their legacies ensuring SOPAC remains a home for world-class performances, beloved arts education programs, and community.


Peter Shapiro

Peter Shapiro. Photo courtesy of Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVicenzo Jr. via Facebook

“Peter, along with his wife Bryna Linett, has been a passionate supporter of SOPAC from its founding,” says SOPAC Board Chair Douglas Newman.  “His fondness for SOPAC and attending performances truly will be missed.”

Shapiro’s generous financial support helped maintain SOPAC’s facilities and turn the organization into a beacon of arts and culture within the South Orange-Maplewood (SOMA) community.

Shapiro, a groundbreaking  New Jersey politician and South Orange resident, devoted his life to serving our community.  Born and raised in Orange and South Orange, and a graduate of Columbia High School, Shapiro made history as the youngest person ever elected to the New Jersey State Assembly, as well as the first Essex County Executive. During his years in office, The Washington Post called him “The Wunderkind of Essex County, N.J.”  After leaving politics, Shapiro worked for Citibank and founded Swap Financial Group, a Manhattan-based independent investment advising group.

Everyone at SOPAC mourns his loss for our community, state, and beyond.


Samuel Convissor

Samuel Convissor at SOPAC’s Gala in 2018.

“Sam has been an ardent supporter of SOPAC from its opening,” remembers SOPAC Board Chair Douglas Newman. “His enthusiastic support of our Julliard @ SOPAC student music series reflected his passion for both organizations. We fondly will remember his excitement and energy for new ideas.”

Convissor’s support contributed to underwriting the Juilliard @ SOPAC Series.  Each year, SOPAC would partner with the famed Juilliard School to bring some of the finest young musicians in the world to South Orange, including The Ansonia Quartet, and pianists Mackenzie Melemed and Tristan Teo.

Convissor led a life of community service dedicated to improving the lives of those around him.  He served as part of a group of community experts created by the Community Relations Service of the U.S. Department of Justic and Commerce to assist communities responding to disturbances in Rochester, NY; Cleveland, OH; Boston, MA; and Newark, NJ.  He transitioned to RCA Corporation; at retirement in 1992, he was the Vice President of Corporate Affairs. He then moved to Mutual Life Benefit in Newark as the Vice President of Government Relations.  He ended his professional career as the Vice President of the National Executive Service Corps, a group of retired executives providing consulting services to non-profit organizations.

Everyone at SOPAC and beyond will miss him dearly.