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Opera North Awarded Grant for Arts Space
Published Friday, August 11, 2017

A poster of one of Opera North's productions.

Opera North in Lebanon received a $150,000 grant from the Northern Borders Regional Commission to initiate renovations of the Charles Beaman House at Blow-Me-Down Farm in Cornish. Opera North, the only full-time professional opera company serving NH, Vermont, and Maine, has been working in partnership with the National Park Service to establish a visual and performing arts space at the Blow-Me-Down Farm, with a goal of increasing tourism, improving employment opportunities, and raising the profile of the Upper Valley as a cultural destination. The grant will be used towards the stabilization and restoration of the Beaman house, located on the grounds of the historic property.
The house will be used by Opera North for offices, backstage area, artist green rooms and other production-related uses during the summer season. In addition, the space will be available to be rented by the  public for receptions and retreats.

Now in its 35th season, Opera North produces three mainstage productions of operas and classic musical theatre each summer that are performed at Lebanon Opera House, as well as a series of concerts and special events at various Upper Valley locations. To kick start public awareness and fundraising efforts, a free community concert was held at Blow-Me-Down Farm on July 15 that was attended by more than 400 people.

The National Park Service, who manages the property, had staff on hand to provide background on the site and its historic buildings. Blow-Me-Down Farm was owned by Charles Beaman, an attorney from New York City, who convinced Augustus Saint-Gaudens to summer in Cornish in 1885. Saint-Gaudens' arrival in Cornish sparked the beginning of the Cornish Art Colony. Blow-Me-Down Farm became the hub of the Cornish Colony’s social activities, from 1885 until the mid-1930s. Blow-Me-Down Farm is currently owned by the Saint-Gaudens Memorial.
In the fall, after the conclusion of its current season, Opera North will embark on planning its 2018 season, which it anticipates will include activities at Lebanon Opera House, Blow-Me-Down Farm as well as other locations around the region. In addition to working with the National Park Service on the restoration, Opera North is partnering with Andrew Garthwaite of Haynes & Garthwaite Architects, a former Opera North board member, to develop the restoration plan.

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