SOPAC Cancels all Programming Through Mid-April in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic: ‘We Have No Choice’

by Donny Levit
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The South Orange Performing Arts Center will halt all programming through mid-April. The decision took place during a board meeting on Thursday, March 12.

SOPAC programming will be postponed, cancelled, or rescheduled, according to Dee Billia, Director of External Relations. The cultural destination, which opened in 2006, has joined a myriad of arts organizations in the decision to close its doors due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We believe this step is necessary to ensure public health and safety. We take this very seriously,” Billia says. “This is difficult to do for any performing arts center. We’re going to take large financials losses on this, but we have no choice.”

SOPAC temporarily closed its doors after a performance on March 12 by The Stylistics, a Philadelphia-based soul group that began their successful career with their self-titled album in 1971. Programming over the last week featured Al Franken as well as the Smithereens with special guest vocalist Marshall Crenshaw.

“We have a good board, a thoughtful board, and they are working on financials issues that will come,” says Billia. “This is a very fiscally responsible organization. We have strategies, but right now we’re dealing with the immediate future.”

While performances will not take place, SOPAC will continue to work on putting together a calendar for the future. Billia says that they will still plan to book programming for May, June, and for the fall of 2020.

“We’re not alone here. This situation is going to be devastating for a lot of businesses,” she adds. “We’re coming from a pretty healthy financial standpoint. But we’re still worried that as months progress, it will continue to be very hard on the economy and many other organizations.”

For future updates and information, visit the SOPAC website.

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