Newport Opera House Theater Matches $4.2 Million Rhode Island Creative and Cultural Economy Bond

(Newport Buzz, By Christian Winthrop)

The Newport Opera House Theater & Performing Arts Center announced it has successfully completed raising the $4.2 million that was required to match the Creative and Cultural Economy Bond grant issued by the State of Rhode Island.

The $4.2 million received by Newport’s historic Opera House Theater from the State and Cultural Facilities Grant was instrumental in launching the restoration of Rhode Island’s oldest theater. The funding represents not only an investment in the future of the arts in Rhode Island, but an investment in local Rhode Island businesses, with local building talent and tradespeople employed in construction and, in compliance with the terms of the bond, funds allocated for the employment of firms with apprenticeship programs and women- and minority-owned enterprises.

Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, which administers the State Cultural Facilities Grant Program, congratulated this important milestone for the Newport Opera House Theater.

Said Rosenbaum, “Speaking on behalf of the State Arts Council, and in all humbleness for the people of Rhode Island, congratulations to all of our friends at the Newport Opera House Theater & Performing Arts Center on the great work. You are making a significant contribution to the cultural life of Newport and the entire state. Keep up the extraordinary work!”

For 150 years, the Newport Opera House Theater has played an important presence in the cultural and civic fabric of the community. The restored and renovated theater will reopen as a year-round performing arts center showcasing world-class caliber music, theater, dance, educational programming, events and more as Newport’s premier performing arts venue with a core mission of serving as a cultural asset, an educational catalyst, and an economic driver for the community and the state.

During construction alone, the Opera House Theater will generate $15 million in combined direct and indirect total economic impact. Upon opening, the first year of operations is projected to generate an estimated $1.6 million in local output with $15,000 spent per performance by patrons at local businesses.

Alison Vareika, Board Chair of the Newport Opera House Theater, was among the leadership who organized the bond referendum. “New England is so rich in history and cultural institutions – and the Newport Opera House Theater is among its brightest gems. This is a visionary investment in the future of the arts and we thank Rhode Island voters! This has been a team effort which will benefit the whole community here in Newport and Southern New England!” said Vareika.

Tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders supported the bond issuance measure on the 2014 election ballot and the continued support from thousands across the state has propelled the Newport Opera House Theater to achieve this fundraising goal.

About the Newport Opera House & Performing Arts Center 
The Newport Opera House Theater & Performing Arts Center is actively engaged in restoring and renovating the historic 1867 Opera House Theater in downtown Newport into a 700 seat venue for year-round programming of live performances that will serve as a cultural asset, economic driver, and educational catalyst locally and in the region. The theater is among the ten oldest surviving Opera Houses in America and the oldest surviving theater building in Rhode Island.

About the State Cultural Facilities Grant Program 
The State Cultural Facilities Grant Program (SCFG) was created because state lawmakers and voters recognized that many significant cultural properties in our state need extensive repairs or restoration, and that these organization contribute significantly to the state and local economy.  These facilities and the organizations that enliven them contribute to the quality of life in Rhode Island and insure that our arts and cultural activities continue to inspire new generations.  Moreover, the arts and cultural sector creates jobs, stimulates tourism, and builds and revitalizes our downtowns, neighborhoods and communities throughout the state.

The State Cultural Facilities Grant Program is a matching grant program.  It promotes careful planning for capital improvement, preservation and renovation projects for public and nonprofit artistic, performance centers, historic sites, museums and cultural art centers located around the state. Through its matching requirements, the program stimulates broader support and participation in cultural facility projects statewide.

In 2014, Rhode Island voters overwhelmingly approved the Creative and Cultural Economy Bonds, which appeared as Question 5 on the November 4th election ballot, by a 60.6 percent majority authorizing the issuance of up to $35 million in bonds to fund capital improvement, preservation and renovation projects for public and nonprofit centers of culture and the arts, museums and historic sites.

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