SOPAC received a Major Grant in the amount of $10,000 from The Provident Bank Foundation to support Education programs, including dance residencies at the South Orange and Maplewood Middle Schools, music residencies at City of Orange School District, school performances for thousands of young students in the region, and INSPIRED MINDS, an annual juried art show for Essex County high school students.

SOPAC was selected to receive the grant based on its successful and ongoing programming that brings arts experiences to students. The grant helps the South Orange-Maplewood School District bring professional dance instruction to middle-schoolers and brings continuity and sequential instruction to the core curriculum. The 2019-20 residency will be conducted by AileyDance Kids, the educational wing of the world-renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Company of New York. The music residency in Orange supports a professional teaching artist in the classroom to assist the teacher with personal coaching and attention to individual students. With this additional instruction the students can make greater strides in their technical abilities on classical music instruments. The grant will also help support school field trips to performances at SOPAC that focus on literacy, science, inspirational biographies and more. INSPIRED MINDS provides high school artists the professional experience of a juried show, an exhibition in the Herb + Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC and a chance to sell their work.

“This grant from The Provident Bank Foundation will help us bring more arts programming to our young people,” said Dee Billia, Acting Executive Director of SOPAC. “The children are inspired by their arts experiences and studies show that interaction with the arts is key to an enhanced learning experience in all areas. We are extremely grateful to The Provident Bank Foundation for supporting this vital programming for the children.”

SOPAC received the check during a presentation on September 4 in the Center’s lobby. Presenting the check were Jane Kurek, Executive Director of The Provident Bank Foundation and Michael Petrucci, Vice President, Market Manager of Provident Bank. Accepting from South Orange Performing Arts Center were Dee Billia, Acting Executive Director; Ruth Zamoyta, Director of Development; Shana Baer, Associate Director of Development and Linda Beard, Director of Community Engagement.

“The Provident Bank Foundation is honored to help further initiatives that are making a difference in the lives of residents in our local area,” said Ms. Kurek. “We are pleased to support organizations that contribute to a sense of community and offer a diverse set of programs that make people healthier, happier and safer.”

The goal of the Major Grant is to support organizations that have identified an immediate need in the community and for the individuals they serve. The Provident Bank Foundation’s funding directly supports efforts to enhance the quality of life in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania communities served by Provident Bank through three Funding Priority Areas: Community Enrichment, Education, and Health, Youth & Families.

The Provident Bank Foundation was established in 2003 by Provident Bank to enhance the quality of life in the region through support of not-for-profit groups, institutions, schools and other 501(c)(3) organizations that provide services in communities served by the Bank. Since inception, the Foundation has granted more than $25 million to not-for-profit organizations and institutions working toward stronger communities. For more information, visit