The Newport Performing Arts Center has completed Phase I of the ambitious restoration of the 1867 Opera House Theater in Washington Square. “Stabilizing this historic building was a massive and complex engineering feat,” said John Cratin, who succeeded Alison Vareika as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Newport Performing Arts Center (NPAC). “We owe Alison, who remains on the Board and the other Board members, an enormous debt of gratitude for saving the oldest surviving theatre in Rhode Island. ” Stimulated by a $4.2 bond from the State of Rhode Island, more than 900 donors raised almost $10 million in gifts and pledges to date.

The Newport Performing Arts Center (NPAC), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is overseeing the restoration of the building and will run the multi-performing arts venue. Andrea Rounds, the new Executive Director and specialist in institutional advancement, said, “Now we’re in a transition phase, preparing for Phase II. Over the last few months, we have been conducting a comprehensive review of the project and recruiting new leadership to the board.”

“Although you haven’t seen the hammers swinging outside the building, it’s been a very busy few months,” said Cratin and Rounds in their report to contributors:

  • “Achieving our ambitious goals will require a bold vision and the involvement of a broad spectrum of advisors and donors.” Three new members have joined the NPAC Board of Directors in the last month. “This new cohort will add finance and real estate expertise to the team.” Joining the board as Treasurer is John DiBari, CFO of Site Specific a design, build and construction company specializing in restoring and renovating New England’s historic architecture, as well as Nick Radesca, CPA, the former CFO of AR Global, asset manager for real estate investment trusts in New York, NY and Newport, RI, and Hayden Bates, Senior Vice President for Investments at Wells Fargo, founder of the “Live at the Edmond Town Hall” music series in CT and member of the Board of the Charles Ives Performing Arts Center.
  • In updating the business plan, the Board worked with an arts and entertainment consultant to develop a detailed programming analysis, which re-affirmed their assumptions about the types of performances that will be presented on the Opera House stage.
  • After conducting a comprehensive review with a leading construction finance company, the Board approved a revised budget of $25.6 million for the entire project. “Ideally, we want to raise the remaining funds of roughly $16 million without drawing on the anticipated $5 million in federal and state tax credits, so these funds can be earmarked for establishing a programming endowment and capital reserves.”
  • AMS Planning and Research, a nationally recognized firm with 30 years experience in performing arts venues, has been retained and is currently updating NPAC’s market study and re-aligning its business plan.

“The Newport Performing Arts Center is more than just the restoration of an historic building,” said Rounds. “We believe it will be the beating heart of Newport–all year round—uniting all neighborhoods in celebration of the performing arts. This is a once-in-a-generation community enterprise.”

About the Newport Performing Arts Center

Committed to the revitalization of the City by the Sea, the Newport Performing Arts Center, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is restoring and renovating the historic 1867 Opera House Theater, the oldest surviving theater in Rhode Island and tenth oldest in America. Hosting year- round programming of live performances and events, the 700-seat venue will be the flagship of the performing arts community in Newport. For more information, go to: https://operahousetheaternewportri.org.