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NJPAC receives unprecedented grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

$150,000 award facilitates the expansion of New Jersey’s first social prescribing program, ArtsRx, to hundreds of Newark residents


May 16, 2024 — Newark, NJ — New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) has received a $150,000 Our Town award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support ArtsRx, the social prescribing program of the Arts Center’s Arts & Well-Being initiative.

The Our Town grant will underwrite the expansion of ArtsRx to include hundreds of Newark residents, vastly expanding access to the arts in the city. It also marks the largest award received by the Arts Center from the NEA.

“Ensuring that the arts are accessible to everyone in our community is a key aspect of our mission,” says John Schreiber, President and CEO of NJPAC. “ArtsRx connects Newark’s cultural offerings with the people who need that access most. I’m so pleased that the NEA recognizes the value of this unique program and chose to help us expand it.”

ArtsRx, a partnership between NJPAC and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, is the state’s first arts-on-prescription program. It is also the first social prescribing program in the country to have an insurance carrier as a key partner.

ArtsRx is a part of NJPAC’s Arts & Well-Being programming vertical which launched in 2023 and is supported by RWJBarnabas Health.

Created in response to research demonstrating that engagement with the arts increases positive health outcomes, ArtsRx offers free referrals to arts programs for those coping with anxiety, depression, loneliness and caregiving stress. Another benefit of ArtsRx is the support it offers to Newark’s creative economy; organizations including Newark Symphony Hall, GlassRoots, Newark Public Library and The Newark Museum of Art all take part in the program.

ArtsRx aligns with our efforts to address health equity because it connects individuals to local programming and resources to improve their health,” says Jonathan R. Pearson, Executive Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Horizon. “Horizon members who participated in the ArtsRx pilot have a positive experience with accessing the arts. With the National Endowment for the Arts as a new partner, we have the ability to expand the program and serve more Newark residents.”

Eligible ArtsRx participants have included behavioral health members of Horizon and students at Rutgers University–Newark (RU–N). Thanks to the NEA’s Our Town grant, eligibility is  expanding to include clients of Newark’s Department of Health & Community Wellness and the Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

“Whether it’s creating art through artistic expression or appreciating it by visiting a museum or attending a show, engagement with arts and culture has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression,” says Ketlen Alsbrook, Director of Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness and CEO of Mary Eliza Mahoney Health Center. “Under Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the arts and culture district of Newark has grown and evolved in a number of ways. It’s only fitting that the Newark Department of Health partner with NJPAC to bring this therapeutic model of mental health care to the residents of our great city, particularly those who may not always have the financial means to benefit from it.”

“We look forward to expanding the reach of ArtsRx,” says Theresa Tantay-Wilson, Director, Health Promotion Division at Rutgers University–Newark. “The ArtsRx program is truly a community well-being approach. At RU-N, we are witnessing a ripple effect due to the synergistic impact of this program. Some of our students have children and serve as primary caregivers for additional family members. Allowing participants to bring family or a friend removes barriers and increases access to the arts for everyone involved; they never have to engage alone. Shared impact is contagious and naturally builds social wellness.”

NJPAC was one of 68 grantees nationwide that the NEA has approved in the Our Town category. These creative placemaking grants, totaling $5 million, support projects that integrate arts, culture and design activities into local efforts to strengthen and authentically engage communities, center equity, advance artful lives and lay the groundwork for long-term systems change.

More information on NJPAC’s Arts & Well-Being programming is available at



New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States.  It is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey — where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day.  As New Jersey’s anchor cultural institution, NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city.  Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts.  NJPAC has attracted more than 11 million visitors (including more than two million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.  Visit for more information.