New Jersey to restore Metuchen's Forum Theater as part of new state program

Toni Yates Image
Tuesday, April 2, 2024
NJ to restore Forum Theater in arts and cultural district
Toni Yates has more on the reimagining of the old Forum Theater in Metuchen, New Jersey.

METUCHEN, New Jersey (WABC) -- There's a new show of support for culture in downtown areas throughout New Jersey.

On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy touted a program during his visit to Metuchen's Forum Theater, that allowed the town to purchase the theater in 2019 thanks to a multi-million-dollar grant. Now he wants more towns to take advantage of the incentives.

Reimagining the old Forum Theater means repurposing it to revitalize it as the focal point for Metuchen's Arts and Cultural District. It's been around since 1928.

"You can imagine folks walking in here 75 years ago getting a ticket and then doing something special," said New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.

The town of Metuchen once hosted world premieres and American premieres. The town wants it to breathe again.

"The Forum Theater stands poised to retake its rightful place among a network of medium to small-sized theaters," said Dean Jason Geary of Rutgers University's School of the Arts.

Middlesex County gave the town $3.5 million from an arts trust to help fund the project. The state is proposing an arts funding program that would help rescue historic places like the Forum, across New Jersey.

"This is a gem, it's 96 years young, it's absolutely ripe for a new vision for the 21st century," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.

"In 2026, we're hoping to open the new version of the Forum Theater," said Metuchen Mayor Jonathan Busch. "We're going to have all kinds of stuff... comedy, film."

Resident Paul Lech has memories at the Forum Theater, and would love to have a reason to return.

"I'll tell you, it's been a long time since I've been in this theater... and it would be nice to be able to have some place to go," Lech said.


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