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CFO Beth Fylstra of SOPAC and the Upcoming 2022-2023 Season


The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) has announced their 2022-2023 season and all of the exciting acts to come. After two and a half years of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida remediation, SOPAC has reopened their performance halls, which have been revamped with a new stage and orchestra pit and a freshly remodeled interior design. The Garden State Woman Education Foundation spoke with the CFO of SOPAC, Beth Fylstra, about her career experience and what we can expect for the upcoming season.

  • Can you share a little bit about your career experience as CFO of SOPAC?
"As CFO and now also interim COO of SOPAC (we anticipate our new Executive Director will be hired this fall!), I have been involved in some capacity with every department and staff member at SOPAC since 2015. I have a PhD in nonprofit leadership and management, which has provided me with a strong theoretical background, and I have more than 20 years of hands-on experience in nonprofit leadership, management, and finance. There are many parts of the SOPAC machine that have to work well: Finance, Administration, Marketing, Audience Services, Production, Rentals, Booking Talent, Education Programs, Community Engagement, Development, and Facilities. I make sure everything runs smoothly. However, I have an excellent, competent staff who loves SOPAC and enables SOPAC to not only get things done, but get things done well." 
  • What obstacles did you face during the years of closure due to the pandemic and how did you overcome them?

"The most difficult part was making tough staffing decisions. Every person on staff is important to SOPAC, so how do you say one person is more valued than another? We did not have much of a choice. Either we had to cut expenses and staff OR there would be nothing to come back to after the pandemic. Serious conversations were held between board and staff leadership with dozens of financial scenarios discussed before decisions were finally made to terminate or lay off more than 75% of our staff. SOPAC was fortunate to have PPP loans and also the SVOG (Shuttered Venues Operators Grant) available to them, because without these programs, we would be having an entirely different conversation today. We used our funds wisely and were very strategic in how we were going to re-open, what we would put on the stage, and how we would operate. Our strategies, due diligence and patience worked, and I'm pleased to say that now not only have we been able to re-open and announce our 2022-2023 season, but we have also been able to re-hire nearly all of our pre-COVID positions!"

  • What is one thing you are excited for your audiences to experience or takeaway from the SOPAC 2022-2023 season?

"We're just excited to have our audiences back! In addition to the pandemic, we were hit with Hurricane Ida, so our closures extended longer than other arts organizations. We went through months of remediation and renovations. To have energy and excitement in the lobbies and theatre again is what I'm most looking forward to."

  • Is there a particular act you are especially looking forward to?

"Wow. This is a hard question! It's almost as hard as asking someone which one of their kids they like the best. Every performer and act is so unique and special and speaks to me in a different way. Our lineup is so eclectic this year, from comedians like SNL's Kevin Nealon to R&B crooner Peabo Bryson and Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn (they're known as the king and queen of the banjo). Jim Messina, Valerie Simpson, and Judy Collins are all music icons. If I had to pick my personal favorite, I'd say more broadly, that I'm really looking forward to our Holiday line up in December. Why? Because when I think about the holidays, I think about family. SOPAC is a big family—we are all related through music. Between Sweet Honey in the Rock, Nefesh Mountain, and the Hot Sardines, you're in for such a diverse treat."

The SOPAC 2022-2023 season will be packed with an amazing variety of exciting performances! For upcoming SOPAC events, visit: https://www.sopacnow.org/events/

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Thursday, 18 April 2024

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