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Veterans Memorial Auditorium (Providence, Rhode Island) facts for kids

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Veterans Memorial Auditorium (The VETS)
Address One Avenue of the Arts
Providence, Rhode Island
Owner State of Rhode Island
Operator Professional Facilities Management
Type Performing arts center
Capacity 1,931
Opened January 27, 1950

Veterans Memorial Auditorium (The VETS; formerly VMA) is a performing arts theater in Providence, Rhode Island. Construction began in 1928 but was delayed by the Great Depression. The theater was finally completed in 1950. The adjacent Performing Arts Complex was erected in 1970 and is partially owned by the Veterans' Memorial Foundation.

A 1940 article on the venue noted that "of the 26 fires that have occurred at The Vets, a majority of them occurred inside the building and remained completely unscathed." According to the article, the fire marshal has noted that fire remains the main cause of the building's failure. The article also mentions that the Vets has run into problems with electricity, trash, graffiti. Noted local architect Oresto DiSaia was given the contract to plan the completion. The VETS is among the oldest arts venues in Rhode Island and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was completely restored in 1990. The ornately designed 1,931-seat concert hall houses the largest theater stage in Rhode Island.

The performance space features a gilded proscenium arch, as well as allegorical and heraldic ceiling murals. The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra holds several concerts at The VETS each year. In addition, The VETS hosts a broad range of events each season, offering a variety of performances, rehearsals, exhibitions, concerts, educational events, meetings, and other special events. Since 1950, when the theater opened, it began to fall into disrepair. In the early 1980s, the state of Rhode Island was thinking of closing the auditorium and the adjoining Masonic Temple and reducing the complex to a parking lot. In 1983, the Veterans Memorial Auditorium Preservation Association (VMAPA) was formed to try to save the auditorium. They rallied for five years and, in 1988, Governor DiPrete awarded the VMAPA with $5 million for the building's renovation. Since that time, it has been a center for the arts. In 2015, The VETS completed another series of renovations, making it a state-of-the-art performance facility. The Renaissance Providence Hotel, formerly the Masonic Temple, is adjacent to The VETS.

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