Tim Peacock, the executive director of Stuart’s Opera House, at the grand opening of the organization’s new education and community center and spacious new lobby. (WOUB/Emily Votaw)

Stuart’s Honors Donors with Special Grand Opening Dec. 6

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Stuart’s Opera House has changed many hands throughout it’s lengthy life — and it seems that after decades of reconstruction, unexpected and destructive fires, various personnel changes, and vigorous fundraising, the facility has finally come to fulfill it’s mission in ways that were formally unthinkable. Wednesday, December 6 marked the organization’s recognition of their many donors, especially those who have helped with the most recent five-year, four and a half million dollar Next Stage capital campaign. The night was marked with hors d’oeuvres, libations, and a deep sense of community spirit.

Executive director Tim Peacock took to the podium around 6 p.m. and launched into a series of program speeches that included the likes of Bob Garbo, Rick Oremus, and Cheryl Sylvester, who served as leadership in the Next Stage Capital Campaign, State Representative Jay Edwards, and Rick Vincent, the President and CEO of the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville.

The new spaces at Stuart’s include the addition of a community and education center next to the Opera House on the Nelsonville square, a spacious new lobby and bar, a completely redone first and second floors of the Opera House, new dressing rooms, showers and bathrooms for performers, the completion of the preservation of the historic green room, and new offices.

“After many meetings, feasibility studies, board resolution, gasps of disbelief, a lot of ‘you wanna raise how much money?,’ a devastating fire in April of 2015, thousands of volunteers hours including those by our board of directors, we have finally successfully raised over four million dollars in Athens County — and I’m not even quite sure I knew it was possible,” said Peacock. “But we raised just over $4 million for this beautiful historic building, and we’re here to celebrate just that feat.”

State Representative Jay Edwards at the unveiling of Stuart’s Opera House’s new facilities on December 6, 2017. (WOUB/Emily Votaw)

After Peacock’s initial words, State Representative Jay Edwards, of Nelsonville, spoke.

“I think sometimes when you grow up in places, you take things about them for granted, I think that anyone here who grew up in Nelsonville would say it’s easy to take things like (Stuart’s) for granted,” Edwards said. “I travel to Marietta, to Columbus, to Pomeroy, all over the state, and when you bring up Nelsonville now, everyone brings up Stuart’s Opera House. I was recently here for an event, and had the opportunity to speak to 10 or 12 young kids who were here taking part in an educational program. The educational piece of what Stuart’s does is huge — the kids who are into this world. They may be kids who aren’t into basketball or football, or more traditional things. A place like Stuart’s opens up a lot of opportunities for kids like that to follow their dreams.”

Rick Oremus, a longtime affiliate of the Opera House and a member of the leadership team for the Next Stage Capital Campaign, spoke next.

“The Stuart’s Opera House family, and everyone involved with the campaign, wants to extend their thanks to all the volunteers and committee chairs and our incredible staff, and to our fundraising consultants, and to everyone who believed in us and in our vision,” said Oremus. “Through your generosity, gifts, and pledges, you have allowed us to realize our dreams and to make Stuart’s Opera House a premiere cultural and arts center in Southeast Ohio.”

Rick Oremus at Stuart’s Opera House’s grand opening and donor thank you event on Wednesday, December 6, 2017. (WOUB/Emily Votaw)

Following remarks were made by Cherl Sylvester, Rick Vincent, and Bob Garbo. The night came to a conclusion after a toast was made (led by Peacock,) and a ribbon was ceremoniously cut, leaving those who attended the event to explore the newly renovated spaces.