Nonprofit Bergen County performance center struggling post-pandemic
A New Jersey theater company is struggling to make ends meet.
“It’s like crazily ironic,” says Matt Okin, artistic director of Black Box Performing Arts Center in Englewood. “It's like here we are, getting the chance to work with artists that we never thought we'd get the chance to work with and we are still fighting for survival mode."
Black Box PAC is a 75-seat nonprofit venue known for edgy and experimental theater work. Several noted playwrights, including Eric Bogosian and Neil LaBute, workshopped plays with its repertory company of actors last year. It was a boost in credibility for Black Box.
But the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused the theater to have financial issues.
“We need to serve these communities both as actors serving an audience, but also teaching artists serving students,” says Michael Gardner, managing director and actor.
Black Box is organizing meetings with other artists in Bergen County urging more county government assistance from undistributed COVID relief funds.
Electronic music artist and photographer Daniel Hamilton, of Englewood, says he believes support for the arts generates community income and employment.
“Hire people back that I work with. That’s one of my biggest really, it’s hiring people back that I work with,” Hamilton says.
Black Box PAC is hoping new artistic achievements help propel its recovery.
A spokesperson for Bergen County says a plan to distribute additional COVID related relief money coming out the end of July will include arts and entertainment organizations.