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Veterans Memorial Auditorium Endowment Fund
By Jean Cohoon / April 22, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...
Veterans Memorial Auditorium (The Vets), an ornately-designed 1,933-seat concert hall, provides premier performance space to such recognized local arts organizations as the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Festival Ballet Providence. At the same time, it strives to be the venue for lesser-known organizations and performers.

Paul Brooks, president of The Vets Foundation, recalls the 2014 Shakespeare in the City event at which scenes from Hamlet were performed by students from 23 schools, opening with students from Meeting Street School and closing with students from the Rhode Island School for the Deaf. “It was just electric, but they never could have afforded all the costs,” Brooks explains.

Enter The Vets Foundation which, since 2012, has provided $50,000 in financial support for programs that otherwise would not be able to access the Auditorium. “We’re into promoting performances in Providence. When people want to use the hall, we underwrite costs for the performances,” Brooks explains, noting that fixed costs include such things as stagehands, security, fire patrol, and custodial services.

Another goal of The Vets Foundation is to expand and diversify its audience base. Brooks indicates they focus on attracting a younger audience and that he is hoping to use The Vets to develop the Latino audience. He shares that in the past two years, The Vets Foundation has helped to introduce 22,000 people to an arts related event.

Looking at the bigger picture, Brooks states, “The Vets is a piece of a very complex puzzle. If we’re all working together, the arts can bring business to the state. It’s really exciting.”

He is equally excited about helping to ensure The Vets Foundation’s future. “This fund is the first step to building an endowment. I lobbied to put the endowment at the Foundation to help raise the visibility of The Vets, and I know we’re placing the money in a good place with a reliable reputation. It’s just smart to put money aside, to have a cushion for the organization. We’re planting a bunch of seeds where seeds had not been planted before,” Brooks concludes.
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