Happy New Year to one and all.

I know you all join me in the hope that 2022 is the year when we really begin to see the COVID-19 pandemic in the rearview mirror. To that end, I thought I’d share with you my thoughts on where I hope to take the Union County Performing Arts Center in the months and years to come.

If I had to boil my vision down to one simple concept, it would be that I hope to take this beautiful historic venue “from good to great.” Those of you who are a bit more business-oriented will no doubt recognize this phrase as the name of a classic business “self-help” book by the academic and author Jim Collins (I’m a HUGE fan of Collins; all of his books are full of amazing insights).

When I say that I want to take the theater “from good to great,” I am in no way criticizing those who have come before me. I am deeply indebted to Brian Remo and all of the previous executive directors–not to mention previous and current staff, board and volunteers–who have worked so hard to build the strong brand that UCPAC already has.

On the contrary, I feel as though my job is simply to build on the solid foundation that others have laid for me. As Collins says later in the book: “No matter how much you have achieved, you will always be merely good compared to what you can become. Greatness is an inherently dynamic process, not an end point. The moment you think of yourself as great, your slide toward mediocrity will have already begun.”

I’m reminded of the line in the American Airlines pre-flight video, “as always, we’re here to make your flight great. Because great is what we’re going for.” If you ask any staffmember, or volunteer, at the next show you attend, they’ll (hopefully) tell you that our goal is to provide “five star service” every time we’ve got patrons in the building.

What does “great” look like for me? One goal for sure is bringing in, on a regular basis, iconic entertainers like these who have graced our stage in the past: Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Joan Rivers, the Charlie Daniels Band, Pat Benatar, Kenny Rogers, Sinbad, Vanessa Williams, LeeAnn Rimes, Joan Jett, Martina McBride, and so many more. At the same time, I want us to be a place where local community non-profit groups and performing arts-oriented businesses can present performances for a reasonable price (and we can help them promote their shows because of our growing eblast list and social media presence). And that just scratches the surface, but I think you get the idea.

Let me know how you think we’re doing, and/or if you have thoughts about what UCPAC could do better (craig@ucpac.org or 732-499-0441 x1509). The UCPAC has meant so much to so many for so many years, and I am humbled to have been asked to lead the organization at this point in its history. Onward and upward.

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