The South Orange Performing Arts Center recently received a $5,000 grant from the Investors Foundation. The grant will help further SOPAC’s Arts Education Programs, which invest in students and future artists by providing arts instruction in alignment with NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards for the Performing Arts, enhancing the arts curriculum in local school districts.

“SOPAC is thankful for the Investors Foundation’s support since 2012, which has funded access for thousands of children in the greater New Jersey area,” says Executive Director Dee Billia.

The three main components of SOPAC’s Arts Education Programs are:

Dance Residency – SOPAC partners with Alvin Ailey’s Arts in Education & Community Programs through AileyDance Kids to provide South Orange-Maplewood School District students with dance instruction in the elementary, middle and high schools. More than 100 students participated this year and celebrated the end of the course with a performance at SOPAC on Tuesday, April 5.

Music Residency – Since 2015, SOPAC has assisted with music instruction for students in the community. This year, SOPAC expanded the initiative in Orange Township Public School District by providing two teaching-artists-in-residence to support nearly 100 students enrolled in the strings class. Aurora Mendez, fellow at the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, returned as the teaching-artist-in-residence for her fourth consecutive year with the residency. Zach Brown, a cello and chamber music faculty member at the Usdan Performing Arts Camp, The Larchmont Music Academy, and Riverfolk Music and Arts, was brought on to provide comprehensive cello instruction.

School Performances Series – SOPAC shifted to virtual school performances in 2020-21 and continued to provide these opportunities this year. Approximately 10,000 students attended virtual school performances, which included productions of LUX Orchestra, How to Survive Middle School, Doktor Kaboom and The Wheel of Science!, From the Mix-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Jacqueline and the Beanstalk, and Miss Nelson Has a Field Day.

Here’s what two teachers had to say:

“My students loved it and understood the message. Many had never seen a theatrical performance before.”

“Thank you for a fun virtual field trip! The second graders of Room 214 really enjoyed Miss Nelson Has a Field Day! Can’t wait for the next trip!”


About the Investors Foundation:

Investors Bank created the Investors Foundation in 2005 to support the communities Investors Bank serves. Investors Foundation supports initiatives in the arts, youth development, health and human services, education and affordable housing.  The Investors Foundation works to improve the lives of its neighbors and communities across the bank’s footprint. For more information, please visit