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Press Release


OCTOBER 4, 2010

Dufford Center for Cultural Diversity to be established at the Newberry Opera House with $500,000 gift.  

NEWBERRY , SC  James E. Wiseman Jr. DMD, chairman of the Board of the Newberry Opera House and Dr. William E. Dufford, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Dufford Cultural Diversity Center announced today the gift of $500,000 to the Newberry Opera House for the establishment of the Dufford Center for Cultural Diversity at the Newberry Opera House.  These funds will underwrite the Dufford Cultural Diversity Series.

In partnership with the Dufford Center for Cultural Diversity, The Newberry Opera House will work through artistic programming,  to further mutual goals:

To become aware, in a positive manner, of the diversity among us

To acquire a positive understanding of culture, ethnicity and/or social status different from our own

To develop attitudes of appreciation for those of different origins and backgrounds.

In light of our school, community and national unequivocal move toward a more

    diverse population, refine and embrace a system of value which will influence the standards of society to honor diversity.

 The Newberry Opera House through interaction with the schools, and the creation of the Dufford Cultural Series and the Dufford Lecture Series will work toward realization of these goals and help bring the children of Newberry County into the forefront of those who recognize that peace, understanding, appreciation, and acceptance are the way to a successful life.

 To further this work the Newberry Opera House will present:

3 Dufford Lectures and 4 main stage events (these numbers may vary slightly year to year) and work in partnership with the School District and specifically with the downtown elementary schools.

 To underwrite this work, the Dufford family will establish a separate $500,000 fund in an Opera House account for this purpose.

 Dr. Dufford and the Advisory Board of the Dufford Cultural Diversity Center have guided the direction of the concept of the Cultural Diversity Center since 1998.

 The Newberry Opera House Board of Directors hopes and plans to continue this relationship seeking their input and guidance as the Dufford Cultural Diversity Center develops and grows.



Prestigious National Award to Opera House


League of Historic American Theatres  2008 Outstanding Theater Award

Goes to the Newberry Opera House in Newberry South Carolina


July 21, 2008


BALTIMORE, MD –Celebrating excellence in the performing arts field, The League of Historic American Theaters recognized the Newberry Opera House in Newberry, South Carolina as Outstanding Theater of 2008 at the national conference in Atlanta, Georgia,  July 20, 2008.


Chairman James Boese of the Nederlander Organization, (NY) and Thomas Johnson principal architect of Martinez and Johnson, Washington DC announced the award. Boese recognized the Newberry Opera House “for its significant accomplishments, inspiring excellence in the preservation, restoration and sustainable operations of historic theaters throughout North America.”


Boese acknowledged the award-winning Newberry Opera House as a prime example of best practices in our industry, and cited the Opera House as the major factor in the economic blossoming of their region of South Carolina.


Johnson praised the theater’s adventurous programming, exemplary community involvement, and exuberant, forceful leadership. He noted the astoundingly successfully renaissance of Newberry, transforming it into a tourist destination and an international economic hub.


Dr. James E. Wiseman, Jr.  accepted the award for the theater, thanking the League for their exceptional service to the field of historic theaters. He attributed the Opera House success to the work of more than 300 Newberry volunteers who put in over 18,000 hours of work annually.


The impact of the Newberry Opera House is truly phenomenal with more than 250 million dollars of economic growth attributed to the project.


 “Perhaps no other town in the Carolinas has gotten as much attention as Newberry. But the publicity is justified. As Newberry transformed itself from sleepy southern burg to international arts and business center, a state watched in stupefaction and then cheered it on. Now it's the toast of South Carolina and draws attention from the national press, which has covered it for its audacity to revive itself through the arts,” wrote a regional journal.


The Newberry Opera House, which presents more than 200 events annually, is an 1881 French Gothic structure, renovated and reopened in 1998. It draws approximately 100,000 people a year to Newberry, which is located in the rural, central Midlands of South Carolina. Performers range from Kris Kristofferson to Zo Caldwell, the Temptations, Joan Baez,  Eli Wallach, Broadway, and Momix, to the Oak Ridge Boys to the NY Gilbert and Sullivan Society.



The Newberry Opera House was selected for this award by a peer panel including Performing Arts facility directors, architects and consultants from all over North America.  Past recipients include the Flynn Theater in Burlington, Vermont, the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, and the Cutler Majestic in Boston, Mass. The unanimous decision of the jury to honor the Opera House recognized the “exceptionally strong vision for the theater and its incredibly powerful catalytic effect on the economy of the region.”

For high resolution pictures for publication e-mail



For Further Information Contact:

Newberry Opera House Foundation
1201 McKibben Street  Newberry SC,  29108-0211
Tel: 803-276-6264
FAX: 803-276-9993

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