Stuart's Opera House

Stuart’s Opera House is among the Nelsonville nonprofits that would be affected by a possible expansion of the local admissions tax.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, the Ohio Arts Council announced 296 grant awards totaling $20 million in economic relief from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act for the arts and culture sector, including five Athens County organizations.

The county will see an influx of over $205,000 from the grant, according to data released by the OAC, including over $130,000 that has been awarded to Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville. The awards were determined through a tiered, need-based formula that considered each eligible organization’s budget and reported expenses qualifying under the CARES Act, according to the Council’s press release.

The five groups awarded CARES funding through the Ohio Arts Council in Athens County are:

  • Athens County Community Singers — $14,800
  • Athens Photographic Project — $23,800
  • Factory Street Studio and Moving Parts — $25,700
  • Ohio Valley Summer Theater — $11,300
  • Stuart’s Opera House — $130,200

The value of this grant is more significant than ever before because the performing arts were one of the first industries to shut down as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Through this global pandemic, Stuart’s Opera House has been able to make the most of the situation and still provide valuable resources and opportunities for joy to the community. Stuart’s has made all of its arts education programs virtual, including its Performing Arts Camp, its After-school Music Program and its Old Time Music Week. Additionally, with the collaborative help and support of Ohio University, Stuart’s Opera House created the Virtual Nelsonville Music Festival, hosted online free of charge.

These initiatives at Stuart’s support their mission to be a regional leader in the arts community, even in the face of challenges presented by current events.

Stuart’s Opera House has remained a community leader and an economic development partner for the region. In addition to new virtual programs, Stuart’s has hosted the American Red Cross for monthly blood drives, has served as a staging center for the Thursday Night Community Dinners, and has provided a safely distanced gathering place for small events.

Currently, the nonprofit arts organization is promoting “A Night with the Legends,” a virtual evening event scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m.

“Throughout the pandemic the board and staff of Stuart’s Opera House has made it a priority to continue to serve our mission to be regional leader in the arts community, a center for public expression, and an economic development partner for Southeastern Ohio with as little interruption as possible,” said Melissa Wales, Stuart’s executive director. “We have kept all staff and teaching artists on payroll and we’re all working, innovating, and presenting in the safest way possible. We’re grateful to be recognized and supported once again by the Ohio Arts Council.”

In Hocking County, the Hocking County Children’s Chorus received $16,700, the International Washboard Festival received $24,300, and Ravensun (a poetry organization) received $700.

In Washington County, Artsbridge received $33,100 and the HIppodrome Colony History Theatre Association received $48,200.

In Perry County, the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council/Sunday Creek Associates received $14,500 and the Somerset Artists Co-Op received $4,100.

There were no disbursements in Meigs, Vinton, Pike, Morgan or Perry counties.

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