Stuart’s Invites Community to Celebrate New Renovations Dec. 7

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After years of blue print planning and construction work, Stuart’s Opera House is ready to unleash their many updated renovations during their Next Stage Curtain Call: A Public Grand Opening on Dec. 7 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and will include self-guided tours of the new spaces, a live and silent auction (all proceeds go to Stuart’s), a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, and more.

Since its original inception in 1879, Stuart’s Opera House has boasted a rich cultural history as the cornerstone of the Nelsonville Historic Art District. After closing down and reopening twice throughout the 20th century, Stuart’s officially reclaimed its prominence in 1997 as a non-profit entity housing local, regional, national and international artists and performers.

Stuart’s has become a significant presence for art education and a number of community and social events including weddings, conferences, and organizational meetings. Due to its expansive outreach and increasingly large demand, Stuart’s set out to reinvent some of its most prominent spaces.

Around five years ago Stuart’s began the process of working on a $4 million dollar capital campaign to renovate its lobby, offices, and education building located next door.

After two years of construction, the renovations are finally complete.

Beginning with the lobby, Stuart’s set out to completely restructure and expand its size. Now 4,000 square feet, the new lobby is over three times the size of the original with the ability to seat 250 guests.

Everything from its interior design to exterior structure has been renovated to create a more spacious and aesthetically attractive space.

Additionally, the space now includes a new catering kitchen as an area to stage food from for large-scale events and weddings.

“With our expansions we’re able now to offer weddings and larger receptions, and rentals for area nonprofit groups and community events… it’s opened up a whole new area for us to work in which is really great” said Brian Koscho, Stuart’s marketing director.

Another big renovation includes opening up the education and community center, located next to the Opera House at 30 Public Square.

Before the building caught fire in 2015, only the first floor was used as a space to rent and house education and event opportunities. After the fire, Stuart’s decided to renovate all three floors of the building for its many logical and viable uses.

The first floor will be used a smaller and cheaper alternative to the lobby for renting out events, weddings, receptions, and other events. The second floor is accessible from the Opera House’s stage, and has been renovated as a space for performers to use with a private dressing room, new bathrooms and showers, and a new green room. Additionally, this floor will house production and workshop spaces for ABC Players, the community theatre company that performs at Stuart’s.

Lastly, the third floor will be used for education, with a built-in recording studio and two large classrooms. Each of these floors are available to rent.

With these new spaces, Stuart’s plans on expanding their art education programs to both young people and adults.

“We believe the arts and arts education are essential to healthy communities and quality places to live,” said Koscho. “Those are the kind of things you almost can’t even quantify how important they are to a community.”

Through each of these renovations, Stuart’s Opera House has shown its commitment to promote the ability to educate, entertain, and support the community of Nelsonville and Athens County as a whole.

With larger spaces, Stuart’s envisions greater opportunity for the community both artistically and economically.

“Part of our mission here at Stuart’s, besides presenting the arts and making the arts accessible to the community, is economic development. We see ourselves as a cornerstone both of the public square and of Nelsonville and the region as a whole,” said Koscho. “I think that more weddings, more conventions, more conferences, all these kinds of things are all just more people coming down here and having an experience at Nelsonville and at Stuart’s. Especially with weddings you’re seeing that this place becomes a part of people’s stories, it becomes a memory and a touchstone in their lives.”