BOSTON — On Thursday, the Massachusetts Legislature approved legislation filed by Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) to permit the City of New Bedford to enter into a long-term lease with the Zeiterion Theatre for the operation of the performing arts center.

Montigny has been a long-time supporter of the theatre, serving as one of the original trustees when the Z was restored and by providing significant state funding as a State Senator. During his tenure in the legislature, Montigny has secured over $6.5 million in state funding authorizations for the Zeiterion, including $500,000 in 2004 that kept the then-struggling theatre's doors open.

An Act authorizing the city of New Bedford to enter into a long-term lease for the operation of a performing arts center will authorize the city to lease the building currently occupied by the Zeiterion in order to attract private investment through critical tax credits. Montigny's state bond authorizations will also provide a critical component of the Zeiterion's overall development plan.

Earlier this year, the City of New Bedford approved the home rule petition to transform the theatre for future generations. Montigny has spearheaded the legislation in the state legislature and partnered with State Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral to ensure final passage.

“Our downtown has undergone a complete arts and cultural renaissance, first triggered by the restoration of the Star Store,” said Senator Montigny, whose legislation created the downtown college arts campus at the former department store building. “The Zeiterion is a central pillar to this success, and it took years of significant state funding we secured in the legislature to help attract world class performances and provide access to arts and culture for our young people. The Z's performances and programming clearly help sustain a robust downtown economy ripe with coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and galleries. This legislation will open up new funding opportunities and ensure the institution's success continues for future generations.”

“There is no doubt that the Zeiterion Theater is a New Bedford cultural landmark,” explained Rep. Cabral, Chairman of the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets (D-New Bedford). “This 99-year lease between the City and the Zeiterion Theater Inc. provides the organization with access to tax credits and bond funds necessary to complete vital structural improvements. With the opportunity for more investment, the Theater can be enjoyed by future generations.”

“This legislation is great news for everyone in New Bedford and beyond because this historic building will be upgraded and renovated, securing its place as a cultural destination for the 21st century,” said Rosemary Gill, Zeiterion Executive Director, Programming and Development. “Thank you to Senator Montigny and the Massachusetts Legislature along with Mayor Jon Mitchell and the New Bedford City Council for championing this critical step for the future of the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center.”

— Sen. Montigny's Office