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Panoramic view of New Jersey City skylines. (Photo: Clari Massimiliano/Shutterstock)

Scarinci: Can Jersey City Become the Country’s Newest Art Mecca?

By Donald Scarinci, May 22 2023 11:25 am

Jersey City’s abandoned factories are slowly being reborn as centers for art and culture. Facilities that have been eyesores for decades now house art academies, museums, dance studios, photography centers, and artist spaces. 

Jersey City’s vibrant art scene reflects Mayor Steve Fulop’s broader goals to revitalize the city. While supporting the arts benefits the community, it also boosts local economic assets, stimulates growth, attracts tourism, and creates jobs.

Rebirth of Jersey City

Jersey City has always benefited from its close proximity to New York City. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, the city was best known as a transportation and industrial center. However, when the industrial era ended, railroads tracks were abandoned, piers deteriorated, and hundreds of buildings fell into disrepair. 

Over the past several decades, Jersey City has slowly reemerged as a bustling center of activity. Waterfront property that was once vacant is now redeveloped into commercial, residential, and green space. Over the past ten years, property market values in the city have grown by more than $20 billion.

Fostering the Arts Boosts the Economy

Mayor Fulop has worked hard to ensure that art and culture play a role in the city’s revitalization. The centerpiece of Jersey City’s cultural revival is Pompidou x Jersey City, a satellite of Centre Pompidou, Paris’s famed museum of modern art. The museum, which will be located in Journal Square’s iconic Pathside Building, is the Centre Pompidou’s first North American outpost. The Jersey City museum will exhibit art from the Centre Pompidou’s extensive collection, which includes artists such as Frida Kahlo, Joan Miró, Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp. It will also host cultural events and educational programs. In addition to making a name for Jersey City in the global art world, Pompidou x Jersey City is expected to foster further economic growth and redevelopment. 

Jersey City has also entered into an agreement with Devils Arena Entertainment to restore the Loew’s Jersey Theater and operate the space as a major concert and event venue. Built in 1929, the historic Journal Square theater, once known as the “Most Lavish Temple of Entertainment in New Jersey,” featured Italian marble and French statutes before falling into disrepair. It is expected to reopen in 2025.

Jersey City is also taking steps to support local artists and arts programming. Jersey City was the first in the state to implement the Arts and Culture Trust Fund. The Trust generates approximately $1 million in annual revenue for arts and cultural programs, quadrupling the amount that all of Hudson County receives from the State each year. Last year, the city awarded grants totaling $900,000 to 89 artists and arts organizations. Applications for the second round of grants just recently closed. 

Under Mayor Fulop, Jersey City has regained its status as an attractive alternative to New York City for both business and residents. Within the next few years, its arts and culture scene will be able to compete as well. 

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