Officials at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center recently announced a new $24 million renovation to New Bedford's historic downtown theater, intended to greatly enhance the experience for theatergoers, visitors, and students.

The project was announced last month during a celebration of the Z's 40th anniversary.

Rosemary Gill, President and CEO of the Zeiterion, joined Townsquare Sunday this week to talk about the project and what it will mean for New Bedford.

"It's probably one of the most ambitious public-private projects in recent years in the city," Gill said. "The project will not only transform the Zeiterion, but also transform the community as well."

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Gill said the project has been in the planning stage for four to five years, and while the Z has identified 66 percent or so of the money needed, an estimated $8 million or so still needs to be raised.

Gill said that money will likely come from three sources: federal and state historic tax credits, philanthropic sources, and city and state governments. The City of New Bedford owns the Zeiterion building.

Zeiterion Theatre via Facebook
Zeiterion Theatre via Facebook

According to Gill, the project itself will include the complete restoration of the theater, creation of new education spaces, meeting spaces for outside groups and private events, and a "speakeasy" area in the basement that will serve as a new event space.

As part of the project, Gill said the Zeiterion will be closed for about a year, from late summer of 2023 to about the fall of 2024, during the construction phase of the renovation.

However, performances of two resident companies, the New Bedford Festival Theater and the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, and some other performances will continue at other venues throughout the area.

"We have been welcomed everywhere," Gill said.

You can learn more about the Zeiterion renovations by listening to the complete Rosemary Gill interview available here:

Townsquare Sunday is a weekly pubic affairs program heard every Sunday morning at 6 on 1420 AM and 99.5 FM.

The program highlights individuals and organizations seeking to make the SouthCoast a better place to live and work.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at

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