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