Speaker Shekarchi, Senate President Ruggerio Lauded as Preservation Champions by The Preservation Society of Newport County

Newport Preservation Champions

Pictured: Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio accept their Preservation Champion awards from Preservation Society of Newport County Chairman William F. Lucey III, center.)


NEWPORT, R.I. – Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio were honored as “2023 Preservation Champions of the Year” by The Preservation Society of Newport County in a ceremony at Rosecliff mansion.

Speaker Shekarchi and Senate President Ruggerio were presented with the awards in recognition of their leadership in passing the Rhode Island film tax incentive. The film tax legislation, which offers production companies an incentive to make movies and TV shows in Rhode Island, was the catalyst for the filming of HBO’s "The Gilded Age" in Newport. As a result, the series has generated international attention for Newport’s famed mansions and the city as a whole.

“From the stunning mansions of Newport, showcased in ‘The Gilded Age,’ to the sprawling fields of Lincoln where a replica of 1600s Salem was built at Chase Farm for the filming of ‘Hocus Pocus 2,’ Rhode Island has it all, and what better way to showcase our incredible state than in film,” said Speaker Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick). “Since becoming Speaker three years ago, I have strongly supported the RI Film & Television Office, but it’s not just about showing off how great our state is – the film industry is a revenue generator. When a show or movie is filmed here, the cast and crew will stay in our hotels, shop in our stores, dine in our restaurants or have catering brought in from local vendors. I’m thrilled to accept this award, which I share with all of my colleagues in the House who are committed to preserving and showcasing our beautiful state.”

Distributed film tax incentives of $17 million generated approximately $93 million in economic activity across a wide range of industries, including real estate and equipment rental, transportation, food and hospitality, retail, and construction.

“The Preservation Society of Newport County does incredible work, and being recognized as a Preservation Champion is a great honor. Rhode Island’s past remains a real, visible part of our communities through our buildings and architecture, and from the State House to the Newport mansions, this living history brings visitors from all over the globe. I am a proud supporter of the Historic Tax Credit and Motion Picture Tax Credit programs, which are important investments for our state, and I am committed to preserving Rhode Island’s rich history and heritage,” said Senate President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence).

Cultural heritage tourism, or heritage tourism, is a branch of tourism oriented towards the cultural heritage of the location where tourism is occurring. In Rhode Island, historic preservation generates an estimated $1.4 billion for our state’s economy annually. Approximately 9.8 heritage visitors come to the Ocean State, and their spending creates 19,000 direct jobs and supports another 7,000 indirect jobs.

“Without the Motion Picture Production Tax Credit HBO’s ‘The Gilded Age’ would not have chosen Newport as a production location,” said Trudy Coxe, CEO of The Preservation Society of Newport County. “As a result of the filming at our properties we have seen an increase in the public’s interest in Newport and in ticket sales to the Newport Mansions, further enabling the Preservation Society to continue our important work of preserving an important part of America’s architectural heritage.”

Filming of the first season of ‘The Gilded Age’ created 1,200 local jobs and involved purchasing and renting goods and services from approximately 500 Rhode Island vendors.

More than one million visitors come to the Newport Mansions each year, 82% of whom are from outside of Rhode Island and 68% of whom stay overnight. The price of tickets and memberships purchased through Newport Preservation goes directly to the preservation and restoration of the mansions and gardens. Additionally, the Preservation Society prioritizes using local contractors for its restoration projects: the recent Rosecliff restoration project awarded $7.4 million in contracts to vendors throughout the state.

“It was a privilege to attend the presentation of the Champion Awards by Newport Preservation to the Speaker of the House and Senate President and to thank the entire legislature for their tremendous support of historic restoration and the motion picture tax incentive program, which positively impacts our economy, culture and tourism,” said Steven Feinberg, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Film and Television Office. “Every $1 of a tax credit returns $5.44 in economic activity to the State of RI. And, that’s just the actual production directly. That doesn’t include the additional tourism after the movie or series is released. Thank you and congratulations!”

In Rhode Island, the motion picture and television industry is directly responsible for more than 1,580 jobs, including more than $99 million in wages. Last year, MovieMaker Magazine named Providence one of the best places to live and work as a filmmaker in North America.