Stuart’s Kicks Off Next Stage Capital Campaign< < Back to
Yesterday afternoon marked the official groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Next Stage Capital Campaign for Stuart’s Opera House.
In order to get to this point, the organization raised $4 million to complete the repairs and renovations that will allow them to kick off the next portion of their project, which will bring Stuart’s even closer to truly serving the area as not only a place to check out a wide range of musical performances, but also as a sort of community gathering place. The project was set back last spring when Stuart’s experienced a fire that gutted the entirety of 30 Public Square, the building adjoining Stuart’s.
“We’re not actually going to be digging up anything this afternoon,” joked Bob Garbo, a member of Stuart’s Board of Trustees, kicking off the series of addresses that made up the short (but sweet) ceremony. “As a retired person, I find myself with a bit of time to read. And I found a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that I thought really applies to what we’ve been doing here at Stuart’s. She said ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,’ and if you’re here this afternoon, you’ve certainly been part of a dream that we’ve had for a long time.”
After finding appropriate financial backing and a general contractor (Gutknecht Construction) for the project, Stuart’s is ready to launch into the Next Stage Capital Campaign, which will bring to life the Stuart’s Opera House Education and Production Center at 30 Public Square in Nelsonville and triple the size of the organization’s current lobby and reception area.
“To me, what is truly exciting about this project is the fact that we will be able to provide educational programming on the arts for future generations,” said Garbo. “It’s exciting to think about the drama, music and art that our students will create, and how that will improve our area in so many ways.” Garbo then called Cheryl Sylvester to speak at the podium.
“Over the past two years I have volunteered at Stuart’s Opera House, and there have been lots of ups, and some downs, too,” said Sylvester, who described Stuart’s as truly being a “gem” in Southeast Ohio. Sylvester then asked Stuart’s Board Member Emeritus Frederick L. Oremus to share a few words with the gathered group.
“To me, what is truly exciting about this project is the fact that we will be able to provide educational programming on the arts for future generations,” said Garbo. “It’s exciting to think about the drama, music and art that our students will create, and how that will improve our area in so many ways.”
“First of all, thank you all for your support, and the number of people in attendance today is indicative of the support that we received throughout the capital campaign,” said Oremus, who joked that Stuart’s had even adopted “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” (originally recorded by McFadden & Whitehead and released in 1979 on the R&B duo’s eponymous debut) as their theme song throughout the duration of the occasionally challenging campaign.
“But the real credit here should go to Tim (Peacock), Emily (Prince), Dan (Prince) and Ellie (Dudding), who did the lion’s share of the work for this project,” said Oremus. “They’re the ones who kept us going, even when we were discouraged.”
Oremus asked Stuart’s Executive Director, Tim Peacock, to take to the podium before the conclusion of the ceremony. Peacock touched on the many things that Stuart’s has accomplished as of late, including the ever-growing popularity of the Nelsonville Music Festival and the organization’s commitment to provide arts education to the community.
“I am often asked ‘how did you manage to do that in Nelsonville?’ and, really, I never understood why people felt that there was anything stopping us from doing what we do in Nelsonville,” said Peacock, who went on to address the art education opportunities that will be a part of the finished Stuart’s Opera House Education and Production Center. “More than just teaching our kids about art and drama and music, we’re also teaching them how to be decent human beings. And we hope to add some classes for adults and seniors, so maybe we can teach them how to be decent human beings too.”
Peacock also spoke on Stuart’s mission to economically stimulate the Nelsonville community.
“It’s been proven that when people come into the area, they spend money,” said Peacock. “They eat at restaurants – and we could use some restaurants, so if you’re a restaurateur, know that we could some more restaurants. When people come here, they stay in local hotels. And we’re (Stuart’s) able to provide more jobs for people in this community.”
The Next Stage Campaign has a fundraising goal of $6 million total, including an endowment of $2 million dollars. Construction for the Next Stage Campaign will begin next month, according to Brian Koscho, the marketing director at Stuart’s Opera House. For more information, visit stuartsoperahouse.org.