newport opera house

The Newport Opera House Theater and Performing Arts Center has received its first check for $1,016,800 in cultural bond grants passed by Rhode Island voters in 2014.  This first payment is part of the $4.2 million dedicated to the Opera House Theater from the Rhode Island Creative and Cultural Economy Bond measure approved by the statewide ballot measure in 2014.  This monetary support marks a milestone in the restoration of Newport’s Opera House Theater, and comes on the heels of the recent groundbreaking ceremonies with Governor Gina Raimondo, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, and other state and local officials, community leaders, and supporters of the Opera House restoration.

“I’m proud to present the Newport Opera House Theater and Performing Arts Center with its first check as part of the cultural bond approved by Rhode Island voters,“ said Randy Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts (RISCA).  “The restoration of the Opera House Theater is one of nine important projects which will benefit from the 2014 Creative and Cultural Economy Bond grant. Not only will the restoration of this wonderful historic theater have a positive impact on Newport and contribute to the vitality the community and the region, it will also create a significant number of jobs and year-round economic activity.”

Rosenbaum was joined by State Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed in presenting the check to the Opera House Theater.  Alison Vareika, Chairwoman of the Board of the Newport Opera House Theater and Performing Arts Center, and Brenda Nienhouse, Executive Director, accepted the check on behalf of the board and supporters of the restoration project to restore the Opera House Theater and create a Newport Performing Arts Center.

“We are so excited to receive this first check from the State of Rhode Island, “said Alison Vareika, Chairwoman of the Board of the Newport Opera House and Performing Arts Center.  “As we begin construction on the restoration of this theater, the support of the state is critical to our efforts to bring a year-round programming and performing arts to downtown Newport – dance, music, theater, comedy, speakers, education, educations and children’s programs and much more.  It is an exciting time for the Opera House Theater, and we appreciate all the support given by the Newport and Aquidneck Island community and the entire state for this important project.”

The Newport Opera House Theater and Performing Arts center was one of the beneficiaries of the 2014 Rhode Island Creative and Cultural Economy Bond measure passed by the voters of Rhode Island.  The Opera House Theater will receive a $4.2 million grant, one of the largest state investments ever made in Aquidneck Island.  Construction will begin this spring and the theater will reopen for its 150th Anniversary in December of 2017.

The restoration of the Newport Opera House Theater and Performing Arts Center will have an important economic impact upon Newport and the surrounding area—both during construction and after it’s opening as a year round Performing Arts Center.

According to The Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, the revitalization of the Opera House Theater will have a significant impact on our local economy:

During renovation the economic impact is calculated to be over $15 million, supporting 181 jobs in Newport County.
Once the theater is open and presenting, estimates are that the Opera House Theater and its audiences will generate $1.6 million per year in new direct and indirect economic activity, including supporting 54 jobs in Newport County with an annual payroll of approximately $367,359
The Opera House and its peer performing arts organizations contribute $150 million in economic activity and more than 1,250 jobs annually in Rhode Island.

To learn more about the Opera House Theater Restoration, visit our website:

Ryan Belmore

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  He has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the boards of Fort Adams Trust, Lucy's Hearth, and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

In 2020, he was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.

He is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, he spent 39 years living in Rhode Island before recently moving to Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife and two rescue dogs. He still considers Rhode Island home, and visits at least once a month.