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Governor Murphy Highlights the Revitalization of the Forum Theatre in Metuchen

Governor Phil Murphy, alongside Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Metuchen Mayor Jonathan Busch, toured the historic Forum Theatre in Metuchen, underscoring the commitment to revitalizing New Jersey's downtowns and promoting the arts.

New Jersey’s cultural hubs – from our theaters to our music venues — bring people together in support of artistic expression and creativity,” said Governor Murphy.

The visit, which took place around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, spotlighted the transformation of the Forum Theatre into a key component of the Metuchen Arts District, thanks to a $3.5 million grant from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund acquired in 2019.

During the 20-minute tour of the 96-year-old theatre, Mayor Busch shared its history and cultural significance, emphasizing its various roles from showcasing movies and vaudeville acts to hosting civil and social gatherings. The mayor's vision for the future includes creating a vibrant community hub that fosters social unity, potentially featuring performances and dining experiences within a flexible black box theater setting.

Our cultural hubs are critical to our state’s job market and overall economy," said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.

Governor Murphy, reflecting on the theatre's potential, likened it to the versatile venue at Oceans Casino in Atlantic City and humorously engaged with Assembly Speaker Coughlin regarding preserving elements of the theater's historic interior. 

Murphy, drawing on his personal connection to performing arts, shared an anecdote about his involvement in a production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."

The tour highlighted not only the theater's storied past but also its future role as a linchpin in the Metuchen Arts District's development. 

Governor Murphy signed P.L.2023, c.197 in December of 2023, establishing the Cultural Arts Incentive Program, which aims to invigorate New Jersey’s downtowns by providing tax credits for the rehabilitation of cultural venues like the Forum Theatre. 

This initiative is designed to support projects that contribute to the cultural, educational, or artistic enrichment of New Jersey, bolstering local economies and community engagement.

Communities across New Jersey now have resources to revitalize their art and cultural institutions and reap the economic and cultural benefits. I was proud to sponsor legislation to expand these opportunities,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. Metuchen’s Forum Theatre is a prime example of a renewed local institution that will benefit an entire region."

The Cultural Arts Incentive Program represents a significant investment in New Jersey's community vitality, promising to make the state an even more desirable place for residents and families by enhancing access to the arts and supporting small and family-owned businesses. 

As the Forum Theatre prepares to embark on its next chapter, it stands as a testament to the power of public investment in the arts and community development, promising to be a "game changer" for the region according to Governor Murphy.

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