Named after Michael Schimmel, the Center features a 743-seat theater, one of the largest theaters in Lower Manhattan, and an art gallery that hosts an ever-changing roster of artists and photographers; the theater has a wide catalog of drama, dance, comedy, jazz, opera and even cabaret (Larry Keigwin's Keigwin Kabaret). Since September 2005, the Center has been home to the television show Inside the Actors Studio hosted by James Lipton. From 2002 through 2004, the National Actors Theatre, a theatre company founded by the late actor Tony Randall - dedicated solely to presenting classic works of theater and theatrical education delivered at no cost to the students or their schools, was housed at the Center. NAT productions at Pace featured such stars as Al Pacino, Len Cariou, Billy Crudup, Charles Durning, Roberta Maxwell, Chazz Palminteri, John Goodman, and Jeff Goldblum; and the Center was the site of Tony Randall's final performance, as the raisonneur Laudisi in a production of the Luigi Pirandello play "Right You Are." The theatre is and has been a venue for every season of both the Tribeca Film Festival and the Tribeca Theatre Festival; The center is also part of the River-to-River Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the.
Pace University theatre students present 2 plays and musical productions a year in theatres including the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts.
Since 2002, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) holds regular public meetings at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts to discuss the future of Lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center. Most notably in January 13-14, 2003, the LMDC and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey held an unprecedented public meeting at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts unveiling the nine possible plans for the World Trade Center site and memorial. Televised on New York 1, the meeting was linked to Long Island and all five boroughs of the City of New York. New Yorkers had a chance to comment at any of six locations, broadcast simultaneously to each site; thousands more from around the globe participated online at the LMDC Website.
In September 2003, the Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate was held at Pace University's Schimmel Center. All ten declared Democratic candidates for the presidency, including the public introduction of Wesley Clark, debated at Pace University. Candidates were Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Bob Graham, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, Joseph Lieberman, Carol Moseley-Braun, and Al Sharpton.
In March 2005, the Democratic Policy Committee of the United States Senate held the kick-off event of the National Social Security Tour at Schimmel. The town meeting style event, which was covered by C-SPAN, included senators such as Hillary Clinton, Byron Dorgan, Richard Durbin, John Kerry, Frank Lautenberg, Harry Reid, and Charles Schumer.
In 2006, New York State Governor George E. Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the LMDC will award $27.4 million in cultural enhancement grants to 63 Lower Manhattan arts organizations and projects. Pace University’s Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts was one of those 63 Lower Manhattan and was awarded $500,000. The funding will assist Pace in renovating the Schimmel Center to improve public and access for preople with disabilities, enhance the art gallery, and improve theater space.
During the summer months of 2006, Pace University is hosting three New York state candidate debates and three town hall meetings to discuss campaign issues at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, one block from City Hall, at Pace University in Lower Manhattan. The debates are moderated by political reporter/anchor, all events are broadcast live by New York 1. The events are as follows: Democratic Debate for Governor of the State of New York, Republican debate for U.S. Senate, New York State Attorney General Town Hall Meeting, Democratic Debate for Attorney General of the State of New York, U.S. Senate Town Hall Meeting, New York State Governor Town Hall Meeting.