NEWPORT, R.I. – The Newport Opera House Theater & Performing Arts Center announced Thursday it has raised the $4.2 million that was required to match the Creative and Cultural Economy Bond grant issued by the state of Rhode Island.
The State and Cultural Facilities Grant was instrumental in launching the restoration of the theater, the oldest in Rhode Island. Voters statewide in 2014 approved the $35 million bond issue that made the funding possible.
Planning for the revitalization of the Opera House and its transformation into a performing arts center began in 1999. The nonprofit Newport Performing Arts Center LLC bought the building in 2001. Overall, the project is expect to cost $18 million.
According to a statement from the Opera House organization, the funding will not only support the arts, but also help employ local people in construction trades, including women- and minority-owned enterprises.
The Newport Opera House Theater opened in 1867 and became a cinema in the 1920s. The restored and renovated 700-seat theater will reopen as a year-round performing arts center for music, theater, dance educational programs, events and more. The opening is expected in late 2018.
During construction, the project will generate $15 million in combined direct and indirect economic impact, the organization said. The first year of operations is projected to contribute an estimated $1.6 million to the local economy, with $15,000 spent per performance by patrons at local businesses.
Alison Vareika, board chairwoman of the Newport Opera House Theater, said, “New England is so rich in history and cultural institutions–and the Newport Opera House Theater is among its brightest gems,” Vareika said in a prepared statement.