$500 Million Perelman Performing Arts Center Gets Its Ribbon Connected at the WTC

The gleaming 129,000 sq. ft monolith, named after the billionaire mega-donor Ronald Perelman, will feature three separate theaters (which can be melded into one giant venue or operate separately). At a September 12 ribbon-cutting for the structure–which in situated adjacent to the WTC–NYS Governor Kathy Hochul announced an additional $37 million in New York State Council on the Arts’ Capital Projects Fund grants.

| 16 Sep 2023 | 12:08

The Perelman Arts Center, the long-delayed cultural complex designed to grace the World Trade Center, will finally be able to beckon the public into its expensive cubical embrace. At a September 12 ribbon-cutting attended by political dignitaries and man-of-the-hour financier Ronald Perelman himself (he got the naming rights after making a $75 million donation in 2017, although the center is now tellingly branding itself as PAC NYC), enthusiasm for a city arts revival was the prevailing mood.

Mike Bloomberg, while no longer mayor of the city, also utilized the ceremony to mark his continued influence over civic institutions. Indeed, he topped out Perelman’s contributions to the fresh cube, with Times reporting from June proclaiming that he had “finally got the project over the finish line” via a $130 million donation.

“Today we inaugurate the last piece of rebuilding of the World Trade Center site, one that will help us to open a new chapter in the history of Lower Manhattan,” Bloomberg said.

While the governor’s office described the opening event as a ribbon-cutting, some media outlets portrayed it as the “connecting” of a ribbon, which served as the capstone to a fittingly quirky performance by Tony Award-winning actor Gavin Creel and members of the Joffrey Ballet.

Boasting a footprint of 129,000 sq. ft., the eight-floor arts center sits beside the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

The lobby contains the restaurant Metropolis by Marcus Samuelsson, along with a bar and outdoor terrace. David Rockwell’s architecture and design firm Rockwell Group designed the interior of the lobby and restaurant, which most prominently features a glowing ceiling that can be seen a good distance from the entrance.

The three principal venues–the John E. Zuccotti Theater (seating up to 450 people), the Mike Nichols Theater (seating up to 250), and the Doris Duke Theater (seating up to 99)–can either function independently or be cleverly linked into one theater for large events.

Public programming is underway, with “Refuge: A Concert Series to Welcome the World” being performed from Sept. 19-23, not to mention two community open houses being held on Sept. 27 & 30. Other attractions include “An Evening with Ben Platt” (of “Dear Evan Hanson” fame), a conversation with actress Kerry Washington (star of the ABC drama “Scandal”) programmed in collaboration with Vanity Fair. Admission is pay-what-you-wish, with memberships for the inaugural season starting at $10.

The ribbon-connection was also a springboard for another announcement by Governor Hochul and her allies: a hefty sum of $37 million in capital funding will now be available via the New York State Council on the Arts’ Capital Projects Fund (NSYCA), adding to $132 million already shelled out this year. .

“New York’s arts and culture sector is a key ingredient in placemaking, tourism, and our regional economies. Through this transformative funding, our arts and culture organizations are building a stronger, enriching future by creating jobs and serving New Yorkers and visitors who come to enjoy all we have to offer,” Hochul pronounced.

NSYCA Chair Katherine Nicholls applauded the funding boost, noting: “On behalf of NYSCA’s staff, Council, and our arts and culture community, we recognize Governor Hochul and our State Legislators for their continued historic support of New York arts and culture sector. Capital funding projects have broad impact through job creation, and, by solidifying the foundations, expand the reach of organizations which are anchors in our communities.”

PAC NYC held its opening night event on September 14. More than 600 guests attended, with some notable ones including: Lorraine Bracco, Robert De Niro, Oskar Eustis, Jenn Freeman, Tom Freston, Desiree Gruber, Patti Harris, Judd Hirsch, Julianne Hough, Richie Jackson, Bill T. Jones, Cherry Jones, Jane Krakowski, Carey Lowell, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Taylor Neisen, Lynn Nottage, Folake Olowofoyeku, Blessing Omakwu, Annie-B Parson, Diane Paulus, Joshua Ramus, Charles Randoph Wright, David Rockwell, Jordan Roth, Liev Schreiber, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Susan Stroman, Sonya Tayeh, Julie Taymor, and Yelena Yemchuk.