State Theatre New Jersey


State Theatre Launches Largest Capital Campaign in its History to Modernize and Upgrade Customer Experience

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We are proud to announce State Theatre New Jersey’s Next Stage Campaign to dramatically improve accessibility, safety, and operation of the nearly 100-year-old State Theatre building. “As we approach our 100th anniversary in 2021, it is more important than ever to ensure that State Theatre retains its rich history while continuing to serve the community as a state-of-the-art cultural space far into the future,” said Sarah K. Chaplin, President & CEO of State Theatre New Jersey.

The Next Stage Campaign has reached 86% of its target goal of $26,500,000 for renovations of the historic facility, which is owned by Middlesex County and operated by State Theatre New Jersey under a long-term agreement.

The project represents a deep commitment from Middlesex County, which recently made a challenge match grant of $12 million, as well as from many public and private donors, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that currently account for an additional $10.9 million raised. Long-time and recent State Theatre New Jersey members have stepped forward to provide exceptional gifts to the campaign, allowing State Theatre New Jersey to close in on the goal and make this vision a reality. Critical funding is coming from a strong public and private partnership of those who support and recognize the impact the theater has on the arts, the economy of the region, and the well-being of its citizens.

“Middlesex County has a long history of investing in the Arts—it is a cornerstone of this community. The Arts bring us all together, transcends color and economic background, and is a key facet of our identity,” said Ronald Rios, Freeholder Director of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. “State Theatre New Jersey showcases world-class artists from around the world, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year—it is a significant economic driver for our County. This investment is part of a long-term strategic plan to improve the quality of life for our residents both now and into the future.”

Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders attend Itzhak Perlman performance

(Clockwise from Left) Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald Rios, Freeholder Shanti Narra, State Theatre New Jersey President & CEO Sarah K. Chaplin, Freeholder Charles Kenny, Freeholder Deputy Director Kenneth Armwood, former Freeholder Blanquita Valenti and Itzhak Perlman in the green room following Mr. Perlman’s stunning 2019 performance. © Jeffrey Auger

The campaign focuses on three main areas: accessibility and safety, audience and artist experience, and operational efficiency. Planned improvements include an elevator to allow access to all levels, an improved HVAC system, new auditorium seating (with increased ADA seating), replacing our antiquated rope-and-sandbag rigging system (used to move scenery) with a motorized system, renovating our restrooms to include touchless technology, and more. Thanks to early Next Stage donors, we have already been able to renovate an unused space on our second floor into a multipurpose studio perfect for community events and intimate performances as well as upgrade our old incandescent lightbulb marquee to an energy- and cost-efficient LED one.

The COVID-19 crisis has brought into sharp focus the immediate need for many of the upgrades planned. “The campaign and accelerated construction timeline allow us to immediately address projects that focus on the safety and security of our patrons, staff, and artists,” shared Chaplin. “In addition to the structural improvements that will make the building more accessible, we can be at the forefront in providing a safe and clean environment for the community to experience live performing arts and entertainment in a post-COVID-19 world.”

Honorary Co-Chair of State Theatre’s Next Stage Campaign, multi-award winning musician and composer Neil Sedaka said, “It has always been a joy for me to perform at State Theatre New Jersey, and I am happy to help them realize their dream of making this historic theater fully accessible and updating its backstage and auditorium. The dedicated folks at State Theatre do so much to improve the quality of life for millions of people through the magic of the performing arts, and I applaud their excellent work!”

Please lend your support to this important Next Stage Campaign. Your gift represents a commitment to the future of State Theatre New Jersey and a belief in the vital role of the theater to our culture, well-being, and economy. 

Learn more about the Next Stage Campaign and to make a contribution today! »

Here’s looking forward to the next 100 years!

Read more about support of the Next Stage Campaign from Middlesex County »

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