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Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Jessie Mueller and More to Perform on NJPAC Virtual Gala

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The concert portion of the evening, American Songbook at NJPAC will be broadcast online and on NJTV.

Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Jessie Mueller and More to Perform on NJPAC Virtual Gala

Brian Stokes Mitchell, Broadway's favorite leading man, will headline an inspiring celebration of American song at NJPAC's annual Spotlight Gala @ Home on October 3. The concert portion of the evening, American Songbook at NJPAC will be broadcast on NJTV and at 7PM EST.

In addition to Mitchell, the televised concert will feature a slate of stellar performers including Billy Porter, Christine Ebersole, Jessie Mueller, Valerie Simpson, Jarrod Spector and Joshua Bell, all performing classics compiled from NJTV's American Songbook at NJPAC.

The celebration will be capped at 8PM by a live dance party on NJPAC's Instagram Live account (@njpac). All are invited to tune in to participate in this salute to the life-affirming power of the performing arts, and to help NJPAC continue its work in arts education and community engagement - programming that the Arts Center has provided online throughout the pandemic, even though its physical campus has been shuttered due to the public health crisis.

NJPAC's Founder, Governor Tom Kean, and New Jersey's current Governor and First Lady, Phil Murphy and Tammy Snyder Murphy, will be honored with the Arts Center's Founders Award during the event.

"Even before the Arts Center opened its doors, the Spotlight Gala has been a way for us to celebrate the arts, and gather together the community that has made NJPAC a vital and effective anchor cultural institution," says John Schreiber, President and CEO of NJPAC.

"This year, for the first time, we can't bring the family of Arts Center friends and supporters together on our campus. But we were determined that even the pandemic wouldn't stop us from hosting 'the party of the year' and toasting the friends, allies and supporters that have kept NJPAC a vibrant home for performances, community engagement and arts education in New Jersey."

This annual spectacular is organized by Women@NJPAC, the Arts Center's longtime advocacy organization. (Previously known as the Women's Association of NJPAC, the group changed its name at the end of last year.)

After the broadcast concert, Arts Center fans are invited to join an Instagram after-party hosted by DJ KISS and DJ M.O.S., deejays to the stars best known for spinning tunes for the Academy Awards' red carpet and Governor's Ball. Surprise special guest appearances will keep the party lively.

Since its establishment in June of 1994, Women@NJPAC has raised more than $54 million to support NJPAC and its programs. Originally known as "The Women's Board of NJPAC" and later "the Women's Association of NJPAC," the organization began with only nine members. These "founding mothers" not only helped raise the funding necessary to open the Arts Center in October of 1997, they also grew their small band into a powerhouse of fundraising and "friend-raising" that today numbers more than 2,000 members.

In addition, over the past 26 years, the Women@NJPAC has become an organization that not only supports the work of the Arts Center, but serves as a networking venue par excellence for New Jersey women, and a funder with a particular focus on issues impacting women and girls. Women@NJPAC annually hosts multiple events on and off the Arts Center campus, including A Gathering of Givers, an annual convening of women active in philanthropy, held on International Women's Day. Guests have included First Lady Murphy and Andrea Jung, President and CEO of Grameen America, which provides micro-loans and financial training to women entrepreneurs who live below the federal poverty line. This event each year welcomes hundreds of women to explore ways in which they can pool resources and create significant change through giving, organizing and activating personal and professional networks.

Other programs hosted or made possible by Women@NJPAC this year included:

  • A Leading Ladies in the Arts panel featuring Tanuja Dehne, President and CEO of the Dodge Foundation, and Taneshia Nash Laird, President and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall
  • A series of Healing Through the Arts online workshops, featuring virtual conversations, performances by inspirational spoken word artists, writing workshops, and visual arts demonstrations, in partnership with the Zonta Club of Essex County, which kept members connected and engaged during the first months of the pandemic.
  • An August commemoration of the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment - which gave women the right to vote - at a virtual town hall featuring women legislators include Governor Christine Todd Whitman, New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way, Congresswomen Bonnie Watson Coleman (12th congressional district) and Mikie Sherrill (11th congressional district).
  • In addition, hundreds of students in NJPAC's arts training programs received scholarships from Women@NJPAC to continue their studies.

This year's Spotlight Gala @ Home co-chairs include:

  • Aisha Glover, President and CEO of the Newark Alliance, who will shortly take up a new position at Newark's Audible as the Vice President of Urban Innovations, where she will help lead a newly-launched Global Center for Urban Development with a focus on advancing equitable development, beginning in the City of Newark;
  • Scott Kobler, Partner at McCarter & English and Chairman on NJTV;
  • Kevin P. Conlin, Executive Chairman of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and
  • Mitch Livingston, President and CEO of the NJM Insurance Group

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