The old adage goes that behind every great man, there’s a woman. But behind every great building, there’s women AND men. Take, for example, the Newberry Opera House, which has been a fixture in Newberry, rising and falling and rising again with the decades, since 1881. Its most recent resurgence began 30 years ago with a massive reconstruction project. Keeping the Opera House doors open requires more than just attracting world class entertainment. Enter the Opera House Guild.
Now in its 14th year, the Guild is an organization made of up women and men dedicated to raising money to support the Opera House. Its stated mission is to build a thriving performing arts center through fundraising and education, and its 100 plus members work tirelessly to do just that.
The Guild organizes three to four fundraising events each year, including its traditional and highly anticipated Oyster Roast, a Luau, attic sales, vendor fairs and more. Guild members are called upon to do everything from sell tickets to events to decorating event venues, cooking and playing host and hostess to members of the community who attend. Its members have gained a well-deserved reputation for knowing how to put on a heck of a party. While working side by side on these many projects, members form lasting friendships.
The Guild, which is open to anyone with a desire to support the Opera House, meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at the Opera House. The meetings afford an opportunity for members to socialize, but also to plan and undertake fundraisers and other projects. In 2016, members committed time and effort to the renovation of the Opera House Green Room, a hospitality suite that has been welcoming entertainers for more than two decades. The Green Room was dedicated to Cile Barber, a charter Guild member and her late husband, Bobby Barber, in honor of their tireless work and generosity on behalf of the Opera House.
Each year, the Guild’s efforts are rewarded with the presentation of a check to the Opera House. Over the years, the guild has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars. That money is used for special projects as well as to pay for operational expenses.
In return, Guild members receive a discount to most Opera House performances. But more than this, Guild members know that in supporting the Opera House, they are helping to maintain a historic landmark and central fixture of the community.
We invite all to come and join us in our efforts. Annual membership fees are $40 and $20 for those under 30. For more information, go to NewberryOperaHouse.com, click on the Support Us tab, and then on Opera House Guild, or call 803-276-6264.
Laurel Gustafson is the co-president of the Newberry Opera House Guild, along with Anne Burris.