After lengthy presentations by Newport’s Oregon Coast Aquarium, The Pacific Heritage and Maritime Museum and the Newport Performing Arts Center, the Newport City Council awarded tourism promotion dollars to help all three upgrade and expand their offerings.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium was awarded $250,000 toward giving visitors a more intimate and interactive experience with the Aquarium’s seals and sea lions by building better viewing areas of their habitat and daily routines. The quarter million dollars will be matched with grants and other funds the Aquarium will secure from other sources in the future, according to Aquarium officials.
The Pacific Heritage and Maritime Museum was awarded $200,000 to help them leverage other funds to move toward the grand opening of their renovated facility overlooking the Bayfront so that locals and visitors alike can appreciate the exhibits that celebrate the area’s natural history and long human dependency on the sea for sustenance and livelihood.
And finally, the council awarded $250,000 to the Newport Performing Arts Center to improve the sound system in the main theater as well as the acoustics. In addition, what is now a rehearsal space on the east side of the building will be transformed into a 150 seat black box theater for smaller scale performances. OCCA Executive Director Katherine Rickbone told the city council that they will use the quarter million to leverage other matching grants to fully complete the project.
Frank Geltner, Chair of the Lincoln County Fair Board, asked the council if it would consider other applications for tourism facility money at a later date. The council replied in the affirmative, even making a borderline commitment to add to the $300,000 that remains in the fund after Tuesday night’s awards. An advisory committee that made Tuesday night’s recommendations to the council found the Fair Board/Lincoln County application substandard in light of a lack of a firm business plan for the facility; a multipurpose event center for the Lincoln County Fairgrounds. The council Tuesday night said that they would invite the Lincoln County Fair Board to reapply for consideration of a grant award after July 1st.