Dept. of Bright Ideas: Jersey Arts Center Turns to Real Estate to Buoy Its Books

What is a major cultural institution to do when funding for the arts dries up? How about invest in real estate. In Downtown Newark.

It sounds more like a bad joke than an investment strategy, but that is exactly what the two-decades-old New Jersey Performing Arts Center is looking to do, according to the Times. Lawrence Goldman, who left Carnegie Hall in the late ’80s to help found the center, insists its finances are stable, and said he sees the new move as a two-fold opportunity. It will help grow the center’s capital at a time others across the country are struggling to find funding. And, more significantly, the investments will be focused on developing properties near the center in Newark, creating a more vibrant and inviting community for people coming for performances and events. Maybe, the theory goes, they’ll stick around a bit instead of just hopping in their cars and heading home right away.

It’s actually not that far-fetched an idea. Sure, the city is still plagued by violence and a certain degree of decrepitude. But so were Brooklyn, Jersey City and parts of Manhattan not that long ago. As prices continue to rise in those neighborhoods, why shouldn’t Newark be next? After all, it’s only a short 30-minute PATH ride from Lower Manhattan, with ample art deco architecture at rock-bottom prices. Heck, it’s even got Patti Smith’s endorsement. What more could a young artist ask for?

mchaban [at] | @mc_nyo