From local theater, to museums to top-notch cultural arts programming, Middlesex County has something for everyone.
The Middlesex County Office of Culture and Heritage offers folklife programming, multicultural events, special projects, podcasts and publications. Programs are held at the County's East Jersey Old Town Village and at the Cornelius Low House, the County museum, both in Piscataway. The Office also helps produce programming for local arts and culture groups. These events happen throughout the County.
The Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders has committed to increasing the presence of the arts throughout our municipalities. To that end, the Board established the Middlesex County Arts and Cultural Trust Fund.
Progress has begun on the first three projects to be funded. Each will result in vibrant new spaces designed for performance, rehearsal, exhibits, training and education, serving both our artists and those wanting to learn and enjoy these pursuits.
The first of these projects is taking place in Borough of Carteret. The Borough, in collaboration with the non-profit Central Jersey Arts Council, is using its trust funds to fully restore the historic Ritz Theater. A former vaudeville and movie theater, this location will soon become a regional hub for quality live entertainment, as well as a cultural education and gallery space for local artists.
The Township of Woodbridge will use its allocation toward the development of the Avenel Arts Center at Station Village in Woodbridge Township. The Arts Center will be a unique 10,000-square-foot, community-operated facility. The Center's focus will be on visual and performing arts, music and art education, recording and rehearsal space, and cultural history.
The Trust Fund's third project holds exciting changes for the City of New Brunswick and a unified future for its diverse arts scene. Funds will be used to create entirely new performance spaces, rehearsal spaces and classrooms for the New Brunswick Cultural Arts Center. The new spaces will be used for programming and outreach by George Street Playhouse, Crossroads Theater, the American Repertory Ballet, and the Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts.
One of the County's standout theatrical productions is its annual Plays-in-the-Park series, which attracts more than 50,000 fans each summer to the amphitheater in Roosevelt Park in Edison. Plays-in-the-Park is dedicated to producing musicals that recreate or resemble, as closely as possible, the intent, stature and scope of the original Broadway productions. The series represents a unique collaborative partnership between community theater and local government since 1963. The program is sponsored by the Middlesex County Freeholders and the County Office of Parks and Recreation.
Located in the center of New Jersey and home to a population that is among the most diverse in the United States, Middlesex County attracts visitors looking for all types of artistic and cultural pursuits. Of special interest is the Tony Award-winning Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, which produces plays relating to the Black experience in America by African- American playwrights. The State Theatre, also in New Brunswick, presents world-class symphonies, concerts of pop, ethnic, classical and contemporary music, and touring company productions of dance, drama, musical theater and opera. The State Theatre's neighbor, George Street Playhouse develops and presents full-scale plays and musicals and award-winning productions of outstanding playwrights.
Art lovers can visit Rutgers University's galleries inside the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Walters Hall Gallery, (student and faculty art), and the Mason Gross School of the Arts (changing exhibits). Middlesex County College also displays works by student and local artists.