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Effort to Reopen Historic 'Odeum' Theater in Rhode Island


Historic theater Plans Spring Opening

Frank Prosnitz, President of the non-profit Odeum Theater Corporation, Steve Lombardi, Executive Director of the East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce, and Theater Corporation Board Members Kevin Muoio and Bruce Rollins joined Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin at the venue today, to discuss the timetable for a reopening and the community activism that has enabled renovations to take place.

Langevin commended the hard work by East Greenwich residents to return the performing arts to the historic Odeum, closed since 2007 after the theater faced challenges in complying with new fire code regulations.

  • "One of Rhode Island's strengths has always been a strong arts community, and the Odeum is undoubtedly one of our most storied treasures,"
  • said Langevin.

  • "The types of entertainment certainly changed over the years since the Vaudeville acts of the 1920s, but the Odeum remained a special place to see a show. Due to the extraordinary efforts by Frank and the many people who supported him like Kevin and Bruce, we are now hopeful it will continue to serve as a source of community pride and economic activity for generations to come."
  • With the crucial assistance of a $141,900 grant from the Champlin Foundation, the Odeum Theater Corporation raised the funding needed to bring the venue into compliance with new fire safety laws and make additional improvements to enhance the experience of performers and spectators. Opening night is projected for May 26, 2012.

    Langevin visited the theater as part of a tour of East Greenwich's Main Street during which he also met with small business owners and employees about economic issues, and greeted residents at Main Street Coffee. Among his small business stops were: Smyle, a vintage and artisan gift gallery; Symposium Books; Back to Basics Natural Food Grocery; and Colonial Shoe Repair.

    Just a few weeks ago, Langevin launched his 'RISE Tour' to Build Skilled Economy. Over the coming months, he is asking companies, job training facilities and other organizations that want to be involved, to contact his office with ideas for building the partnerships Rhode Island needs.

    Rhode Island has persistently high unemployment. Langevin says there is a skills gap in Rhode Island, that is a significant drag on the economy, because it results in high unemployment.

    Rhode Island business leaders are now talking about the need for better collaboration with the education community to improve local skills and help businesses fill jobs.

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