The two-hour community event includes student performances and tours of the many studios, theaters and design spaces in the university’s newest building

Rainbow-colored netting, a peice of artist Rana Begum's artwork,  hangs on the wall of the second floor commons
Artist Rana Begum's colorful artwork enlivens the second floor commons in the Paulson Center. (Photo by Joshua Sanchez)

Student actors, designers, and musicians step into the spotlight Saturday, April 1, when New York University throws open the doors of its newest building for “Celebrating the Performing Arts at the John A. Paulson Center.”

The two-hour event features site-specific performances and tours of the Paulson Center’s theaters, studios, design shops, and rehearsal rooms. Dedicated in December, the multipurpose building at 181 Mercer St. is named for 1978 graduate and former trustee John A. Paulson, who donated $100 million, one of the largest gifts in university history.

Members of the NYU community are invited to join students and faculty from the Tisch School of the Arts and the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development from 2 to 4 p.m.

"These world-class spaces will greatly enhance the experience of our student musicians, dancers, and actors, as well as our faculty and visiting performers. We are also very excited to be able to share our work with the broader NYC community," said Jack H. Knott, Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of NYU Steinhardt.

“This moment heralds a new era for the performing arts programs at New York University. The unveiling of the Paulson Center marks a monumental turning point as our students will now hone their skills in the world-class facilities they deserve,” said Dean Allyson Green of the Tisch School of the Arts. “I’m filled with joy to celebrate with performances from an array of talents from the Tisch School of the Arts and Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development that will call these spaces home, from dancers to designers to musicians and more. I couldn’t be more excited for our future, and so grateful to all who made this possible.”

A centerpiece of the celebration is James Tenney’s composition, In a Large Open Space, an immersive piece performed by dozens of musicians at 2 and 3 p.m. A Drums Ensemble will close out the event with a featured performance at 4 p.m.

In between, a host of smaller ensembles – including a jazz trio, a woodwinds trio, and a string quartet – will perform every 20 minutes in various spaces on the first three floors. In the second floor Commons, a stunning gathering spot for students, two improvisational programs involving dance and music will spotlight the work of experimental performance classes. 

Visitors are encouraged to venture to the fourth floor, where Theatre C will host a lighting display created by members of the 2025 Graduate Lighting Class. On the sixth floor, the Ensemble Rehearsal Room will feature a string quintet of students from Steinhardt’s instrumental performance program.

The Paulson Center’s two other theaters – the Iris Cantor Theatre and the African Grove Theatre – will be dedicated March 31. The Cantor is a proscenium theater with seating for 350. The African Grove Theatre is named for the legendary Black theater that performed at this site in the early 19th century. These venues, and the flexible Theatre C, will host student and professional programs starting in the fall.

The Paulson Center also has sixty classrooms, various spaces for community gatherings, sports facilities, and student and faculty housing.

Members of the NYU community are required to RSVP. NYU community members may bring guests, but they must be registered and enter with their sponsors.

All guests must use the main entrance at 181 Mercer (at Bleecker Street). Visitors should be prepared to present proof of compliance with the university’s covid-19 vaccination requirements and a government issued ID if asked.


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