State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick has announced extensive renovation focused on accessibility and safety; audience and artist experience; and operational efficiency.
“State Theatre is committed to improving our accessibility and operations to ensure the finest experience for live performance and arts education programs in our beautiful historic venue,” said Scott Fergang, State Theatre New Jersey Board Chair. “Since State Theatre’s last major renovation in 1988, we have welcomed over 5.9 million people through our doors. These upgrades will allow us to continue to serve our community and build audiences for the next 100 years and beyond.”
Upgrades include adding an elevator and accessible seating and restroom facilities in order to become ADA compliant. The the stage rigging system, dressing rooms, and lobby spaces will all be updated.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated cancellation of live theater performances means that construction will progress at a faster pace. “We are using this time to accelerate the construction timeline and immediately address projects that focus on safety and security for all,” said Sarah K. Chaplin, president and CEO. “State Theatre will 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.”
The improvements made critical by the COVID-19 crisis include the replacement of the HVAC system to improve air flow control and filtration, installation of magnetometers with thermal scanning at all entrances, the installation of protective barriers at service areas, the installation of new modular seating to facilitate social distancing if required in the future, and the addition of touchless technology in all restroom facilities.
The renovations are being funded by the theater’s Next Stage capital campaign with a fundraising goal of $26.5 million. At the end of August the theater had raised 86 percent of that goal.
Major support has come from Middlesex County and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Other major donors include the late philanthropist Betty Wold Johnson; Johnson & Johnson; Joan and Robert Campbell; the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation; Andrew J. Markey; the Presser Foundation; the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust; the John and Susan Heldrich Family Fund; the Hyde and Watson Foundation; and Investors Bank.
State Theatre New Jersey, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick 08901. 732-246-7469. Sarah K. Chaplin, president and CEO. www.statetheatrenj.org.