Newport Performing Arts Center shared this "view from the top" photo on Facebook on October 13.

Faced with escalating costs, the non-profit Newport Performing Arts Center has abandoned plans to streamline its initial design, and instead is looking for ways to trim its budget, without sacrificing the audience’s experience.

John Cratin, the organization’s board chair, said the contractor is “very focused” on infrastructure and utilities, hopeful of finding savings to offset what Cratin said appears to be a 10 to 25 percent increase in the original $26 million budget.

Additionally, the board’s focus is fundraising. “This town said it needs this so desperately” now “people need to become financially supportive.”

Last December, Cratin had said the group would “reframe” the project, reducing the budget, potentially reducing seats. But yesterday, Cratin said, making “radical changes” to the redesign proved unrealistic. 

“We’re going to stick with the design we have,” with a 700-seat capacity. “We’re going to stick with the plan and stick with the people.” By people, he means the general contractor, Farrar Associates of Newport and Newport Architecture.

And while the goal remains a late 2023 re-opening, Cratin said the goal is “realistically the spring of 2024,”

Restoring the former Opera House has been going on for more than two decades. After years of trying to raise the $26 million needed to renovate the more than 150-year-old building, the non-profit has raised less than 40 percent of that goal.

Fundraising remains critical and Cratin said, “we’ve had good activity with possible funders.” The board is also seeking some $4 million in federal and state tax credits, is applying for grants, and hoping for greater community support.

More on the Newport Performing Arts Center

Dec. 23, 2021 – Newport Performing Arts Center board ‘reframing’ the project; hopeful of a late 2023 re-opening

Oct. 16, 2018 – Newport Performing Arts Center provides update on efforts to restore Opera House Theater

Mar. 14, 2018 – Andrea Rounds named Interim Executive Director of Newport Opera House Theater and Performing Arts Center

Dec. 27, 2017 – Newport Opera House Theater turns 150 on December 28th

Dec. 22, 2017 – Newport Opera House Theater matches $4.2 million Rhode Island Creative and Cultural Economy Bond

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.