SOPAC Celebrates Successful 2011-12 Season

SOPAC Celebrates Successful 2011-12 Season

The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) today announced key attendance statistics for its sixth season. SOPAC's 2011-2012 Season featured 65 performances which drew a cumulative total of 17,305 attendees (an increase of about 23.65 percent) including six total sellout shows.

“SOPAC is experiencing a renewed energy and excitement prevails,” shared Linda Onorevole, Interim Executive Director of SOPAC. “We’re coming off of a record-setting season of attendance and ticket sales. It’s a testament to the great work of the SOPAC staff and the exceptional artists who have graced the stage at SOPAC.”

As always, SOPAC is one of the most versatile centers in New Jersey offering up a variety of opportunities for all ages and palates. The 2011-2012 season featured: renowned jazz artists including Jane Monheit, John Pizzarelli, Freddy Cole, Kyle Eastwood Band, U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, annual Giants of Jazz concert, etc.; live concerts including Eric Roberson, Les Nubians, Suzanne Vega, etc.; theatre/Broadway acts including Ben Vereen, Tom Wopat, Adam Pascal & Anthony Rapp, and readings by SOPAC’s theater company in residence, Midtown Direct Rep, etc.; some country music performances by Chris Hillman with Herb Pedersen, and Pam Tillis; emerging musicians from The Juilliard School of Music through the Juilliard @ SOPAC series; as well as ongoing performances presented by the Seton Hall University Arts Council.

Top Six Shows - SOPAC 2011 / 2012 Season* (in no particular order):
1. John Pizzarelli Quartet
2. The Manhattans
3. Russell Thompkins Jr. and the New Stylistics
4. New York Theatre Ballet: The Nutcracker
5. Sylvester & The Magic Pebble
6. Giants of Jazz
*September 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012

A number of new program elements were given a test run last season, including: the launch of SOPAC’s “In The Loft” series featuring casual, intimate, lounge-type performances by jazz and blues artists in the upstairs SOPAC Loft; community concerts as part of a new affiliation with Celebrate South Orange; a sold-out karaoke party following SOPAC’s annual Spring benefit concert; and the launch of a new visual arts initiative with The Herb + Milly Iris Gallery at SOPAC.

In June 2012, SOPAC teamed up with the Village of South Orange and Main Street South Orange to present the Arts 4 All Festival. On June 8 and 16, SOPAC hosted several free performances in conjunction with Celebrate South Orange, ranging from Lydia Johnson Dance to the local First Baptist Church of South Orange. (Arts 4 All was made possible by a grant awarded by the NJ State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.) SOPAC also produced the 2012 Free Concerts in the Park series from July 11– August 15, 2012.

SOPAC’s commitment to providing arts education and enrichment opportunities for students, teachers, young audiences and adults continued in the 2011-2012 Season with a myriad of school and family programs. The result? SOPAC experienced the highest education attendance numbers (5,680 guests at 16 events) in the history of the organization. This marks a 57 percent increase of attendance over the previous 2010-2011 Season. SOPAC’s School Performances program serves as an educational resource for students and teachers of regional public and private schools, offering performances that complement the New Jersey State Core Curriculum. Shows ranged from the historical Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad to the Hudson Vagabond Puppets’ show of Mammoth Follies to the New York Theatre Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker.

SOPAC reprised the popular “SOPAC Business Leaders Breakfast” networking event, offered specially priced SOPAC-member ticket offers, upgraded the venue’s social media and online advertising campaigns, and secured a robust partnership with the Village of South Orange. In addition, SOPAC had the privilege of receiving two State grants last season - one from the NJ State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and another from the New Jersey Cultural Trust.

What’s next for SOPAC in 2012-2013? “SOPAC will continue to build on its recent success by expanding its arts education programs to include more interactive experiences and by providing professional development opportunities for educators,” stated Onorevole. “Throughout the upcoming season, we’ll continue to cultivate community partnerships as well as encourage SOPAC patrons to experience what this great town has to offer.”

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