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.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. Although not the founder or original owner, Belmore has been with What'sUpNewp since its early beginnings in 2012.

Belmore was born in Providence, Rhode Island; grew up and graduated high school in Coventry, Rhode Island; and lived in Newport, Rhode Island for more than ten years. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He and his wife, Jen, as well as their two dogs (Aero and June), recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Belmore travels back and forth to Newport every couple of weeks to cover events, work on story ideas, to meet with What'sUpNewp's on-the-ground contributors, to visit friends, and to eat as much seafood as possible.

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