The Bergen Performing Arts Center launched a $15 million capital campaign last March to update and restore the historic Englewood venue. To celebrate the completion of the project this past weekend, comedian and former television personality Jay Leno was on hand to welcome a sold-out crowd to the new BergenPAC.
The festivities began April 8 with a private reception at Benzel-Busch Mercedes-Benz Automotive Dealership in Englewood, where auto enthusiast Leno took photos with the Mercedez-Benz 1955 Gullwing and the new Benzel-Busch AMG EQS Sedan before taking a drive through town to cut the ribbon at BergenPAC for a sold-out audience of more than 1,300 people.
Leno then delivered a performance.
Opened in 1926 as the Englewood Plaza movie theater, according to its website, the building was purchased by United Artists in 1967 and operated until 1973. With the efforts of concert impresairo John Harms, local citizens launched the John Harms Center in 1976, which operated until 2003. The following year, a new public-private venture led by Frank Huttle III was formed and the venue reopened its doors as BergenPAC. The theater also houses The Performing Arts School at BergenPAC, a program that reaches more than 30,000 students and community youth annually, according to the venue.
While $10 million in capital funding has been raised, $5 million is still needed to complete the façade of the venue, according to BergenPAC, with a new digital marquee.