People On The Move - Jess Levy

Jess Levy has spent a lifetime serving as a leader in the not-for-profit community in Monmouth County. He began his long career in the early 1980’s at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) located in Deal, New Jersey. The Center has served the Jewish community and county for over 75 years. As part of a reimagining and new construction of the JCC in the 1990s, the grand plan was to include a state-of-the-art theater as an integral part of the design and construction plan. Jess Levy has a passion for performance and the arts, so when the Axelrod Performing Arts Center (APAC) needed a CEO to lead the creative way ahead from plan and construction through opening to the public, Jess Levy became a leading player in the cast.

The JCC has a long legacy, and Levy remembers that “the dream was always to have a performing arts venue” as part of the JCC complex. For over 50 years, a dedicated and creative group known as Center Drama created theatrical productions and performed in the building’s auditorium. The spirit of all those who had created art before and would create art in the future, would now have a spectacular five-hundred-seat theater to make their magic in, connected to the newly re-designed and built JCC.

The new theater was, and is, an homage to those early years. The theater was to be the last phase of the overall building process, and the necessary funds took over 10 years to raise. The long-awaited curtain went up in 2006 to great acclaim. Major capital donations were given by the Axelrods and Vogels of Monmouth County, finally making what was a dream a reality.

In 2010 the APAC, a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, became independent from the JCC and has continued to grow in scope and outreach in the community. Serving over 20,000 patrons a year, the performance schedule is diverse and ambitious. With Andrew DePrisco as creative director, an inspired board of trustees and a dedicated professional staff, the theater has become an award-winning destination for premier performing arts in Monmouth County. The JCC at the Jersey Shore (as it is known today) and the Axelrod Performing Arts Center are a powerful pair for doing good and giving the local community a place to gather and celebrate the creative spirit.

The APAC continues to grow under Levy’s inspired leadership, presenting professional theatrical programming, concerts and films throughout the year. A recent recipient of a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the APAC is looking forward to a magnificent season in 2017/2018. The Center, as Mr. Levy likes to say, “is not just a presenting organization, but we are a producing organization, creating arts and cultural programming unique to our region.” The act of creation is at the core of the creative and performing arts. The APAC, with future plans to premier original works, organize and develop a dance company and continue to expand on their “Rising Stars” youth program, can look forward to many standing ovations and a bright future ahead.

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is located at 100 Grant Avenue in Deal Park, NJ 07723.

Contact:(732) 531-9106 (box office) jlevy@axelrod




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11 Dec 2017

By Michael Berman