The people:

The Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College features on its stage premier acts from around the world, giving patrons a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is also the home to young performers from various educational performing arts organizations, is the location for the Ocean County and NJ State Teen Arts Festivals and the home of the Garden State Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Idea:

One of the largest economic drivers of a community is a thriving arts culture.  We spoke with members of the Toms River community who determined that it is the natural place to both bring an influx of world class performing and visual art and grow our own local talent is Ocean County College.

The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation gave a $5.75 million gift, the single largest endowment in the 50-year history of OCC’s Foundation, to establish an arts center endowment allowing OCC to develop quality programming housed in the Center.

The income generated from this endowment will be used for a number of initiatives that benefit OCC, Kean-Ocean, Performing Arts Academy, and local high school students, as well as county residents and visitors.

The Center will provide students and local talent with a venue to display and hone their skills while benefiting and enriching the cultural life of all our county’s residents.

The Impact:

The gift has allowed the Grunin Center to add programs such as an annual theatre and music production series and professional-level performing ensembles. The upstairs area is a professional visual arts gallery for student, local, and national art exhibits as well as classrooms for college and high school students, guest artist lectures and workshops.

The Grunin Center has been the home of the Ocean County and New Jersey State Teen Arts Festivals, as well as many other local award ceremonies and programs honoring our county residents.

Since the gift from the Grunin Foundation, there has been a 50% increase in ticket sales, 125% increase in gross sales and a 177% increase in patron donations.

The Check-In:

Mark Wilson, Director of Cultural Affairs at Ocean County College and Artist Director of the Grunin Center has been crucial in establishing and meeting goals and taking the Center to the next level.  We meet with Mark quarterly to review financial and marketing goals, most of which are surpassed.  We have no doubt that Mark will continue to grow the selection of performances, audience attendance and geographic reach of the Grunin Center.

The Promise: 

We promise to continue to work closely with OCC to expand the arts programming in our communities.

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