Clarke Caton Hintz, of Trenton, New Jersey, is the architectural firm chosen for the $ 50 million revitalization of Newark Symphony Hall. (With kind approval)

The historic venue in New Jersey’s most populous city has hosted show business’s brightest stars

Newark Symphony Hall has unveiled a street scene design that will be part of an ongoing $ 50 million renovation of the historic New Jersey Theater, which opened in 1925 and has been directed by Black since the 1980s.

With the 2,800-seat Sarah Vaughan Concert Hall, 1,500-seat Terrace Ballroom, and 225-seat black box theater, the venue, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, began its five-year renovation project last year. It should be completed in time for the 100th anniversary of the hall.

The new exterior design will integrate the Newark Symphony Hall into Lincoln Park in Newark. (Courtesy Clarke Caton Hintz)

The exterior design, by Clarke Caton Hintz of Trenton, New Jersey, includes a new marquee and integration into the NSH location in Lincoln Park, Newark, with a plaza, new bike paths, curbs and a central island on Broad Street. Clarke Caton Hintz Associate Partner Stephen Doyle is the project architect.

According to NSH President and CEO Taneshia Nash Laird, who said the nonprofit that runs the theater, Newark Performing Arts Corp, includes some interior improvements and the recommissioning of a dormant floor of the building.

The project will create over 500 construction jobs and small business opportunities, said Nash Laird.

The venue, which over the years has hosted everyone from Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and Judy Garland to Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, was awarded a 750,000 scholarship from the New Jersey Historic Trust last year US dollar award is part of the state’s Department of Community Affairs.

Meanwhile, NSH has announced that the Newark-based Yendor Theater Company – developing and producing works by black, brown, and female writers as well as those from the LGBTQ + community – will be their first company-in-residence since the 1970s. Yendor will co-produce Richard Wesley’s “Black Terror” with the WACO (Where Art Can Occur) Theater Center in North Hollywood, California, originally produced in 1971 as part of the New York Shakespeare Festival (now Shakespeare in the Park) produced by Joseph Papp.

The production, directed by WACO’s Co-Artistic Director Richard Lawson, featured on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, will be streamed online this summer. Yendor, a 2021 Black Seed Scholarship winner, will also be the first resident of a career accelerator and performing arts incubator called The Lab at NSH.

Some of the actors on “Black Terror” will appear in NSH’s black box and others will be on the west coast, but the audience won’t be able to tell, Nash Laird said.

Launched with funding from Newark Arts, which supports over 60 arts organizations in the Garden State’s most populous city, Black Terror will initiate The Lab’s efforts to promote programs and performing artists, from musicians and singers to actors and dancers and spoken word artists, directors and theater technicians in the Greater Newark area.

Nash Laird originally met Yendor Theater Company’s co-founder and artistic director Andrew Binger in the Victoria Emerging Leaders Program at the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School, where she acted as Binger’s mentor.

“I always told him that in my capacity as a mentor I wanted to continue to support him in some way,” said Nash Laird. “One of the things he said was that the late founder Rodney Gilbert always wanted a relationship with Newark Symphony Hall, a formal relationship. I said we can do it. “

To “get the relationship going again”, Nash Laird turned to the WACO Theater Center, with whose managing director she was friends, pitched and the partnership ran within a few weeks.

Black Terror launches a new round of virtual NSH programming that includes an interview-style series called Homegrown starring prominent Newark born and raised entertainers such as actress and R&B artist Melba Moore.

Nash Laird, who joined NSH in November 2018, said the hall was in what is expected to be a busy 2020 as the pandemic brought everything to a standstill. The program scheduled for the first two quarters of the year and a concert scheduled for the second half of 2020 have been canceled, she said.

“We were approaching a new year of the program where we were very deliberate (over) and we booked what we thought was good and it all came to a standstill (in March),” said Nash Laird.

Nash Laird said NSH has a great relationship with the IATSE union and the two units are working to expand a program that trains high school students and local people out of school.

The hall, which recently joined the New Jersey Arts and Culture Administrators of Color Network, was shaken a bit after the opening of the 3,352-seat New Jersey Performing Arts Center in downtown Newark in 1997.

Nash Laird said what is happening now to NSH is an organic effort that draws the existing community into their vision.

“That’s why I use the term revitalization and not renewal,” she said. “I think ‘urban renewal’ brings back bad memories of big promises that have been broken, especially in colored communities.”

Nash Laird says she wants the $ 50 million investment in NSH “to be with the Newark Township, not the Newark Township.”

“One of the reasons gentrification and displacement are happening, in my opinion, is not because of new investments. People want new investments in their community, ”she said. “But often the way these investments are implemented doesn’t involve the people in the community.”

This is one of the reasons Nash Laird selected a minority-owned consulting firm to create the quote and then recommended choosing Clarke Caton Hintz, she said.