Dead River Company earns naming rights for theatrical production hub
Bangor, ME – Penobscot Theatre Company seeks community support for a capital project that will address three critical facility needs and position the theatre for sustainable growth. On March 31, the 41-year-old nonprofit plans to take ownership of former Bangor Fire Station #6 and by mid-summer create a vibrant theatrical production hub. Once renovated, the 4,800-square-foot building will house the company’s scene shop, serve as living quarters for production apprentices, and provide storage space for its large costume inventory.
With a total project cost estimated at $284,000, the theatre has been working quietly to raise the needed funds, securing to date approximately $184,000 in grant monies, donations, and pledges. “To close the gap, we’re turning to the community that has generously supported this organization since 1973,” said Producing Artistic Director Bari Newport. “Raising an additional $100,000 will enable the theatre to move forward without the burden of a large mortgage so we can focus our resources on our productions and educational programs.”
The Dead River Company, a longtime sponsor of the theatre, is playing a leadership role in backing the project through a $75,000 grant from the family foundation, earning naming rights for the new facility. “Our family feels honored to support the Penobscot Theatre,” said Julie Bracken, granddaughter of the late Curtis and Ruth Hutchins and president of the family foundation. “We are grateful to have the opportunity and good fortune to give back to the community of Bangor, which has given so much to us. It has always been important to us to support organizations such as Penobscot Theatre that make Bangor such a wonderful place to live and to work. We are especially proud to be a part of the growth of Penobscot Theatre under the leadership of Bari Newport. We are so impressed with where she has taken this great theatre and have great faith in where it is going! We would like to thank all of you who do business with Dead River Company. Each of you is a part of this donation. We hope others in the community will follow our lead and join us supporting Penobscot Theatre Company. May the show go on…”
The project has also attracted generous funding from the C. Walder Parke Family Foundation, the Maine Theatre Fund, and the Margaret Burnham Charitable Trust. In addition to the theatre’s board, several enthusiastic patrons have stepped forward to provide strong foundational support.
The theatre is sole owner and operator of the Bangor Opera House in the heart of the downtown business district, which offers an excellent performance venue but inadequate space for set construction. “Our handcrafted sets are a crucial element of our art,” explains Newport, “and our resident apprenticeship program is key to building operational capacity and developing young talent. Acquiring the former firehouse will allow us to avoid the vagaries and perpetual cost of rental space for these essential functions, and give us an alternative place for costume storage.”
Over its 40-year history, the theatre has built a sizeable costume inventory, currently stored in the upper levels of the Opera House. Offsite storage will permit the company to redefine that area. “Our plans for interior renovations of the Opera House are still developing,” said Board President Fritz Oldenburg, “but certainly we can and should make better use of the considerable space at our disposal in our historic home.”
“Today, our audience is larger and more diverse than ever, our educational programs are growing by leaps and bounds, and financially we’ve never been stronger,” said Executive Director Mary Budd. “Transforming the former fire station building to serve our core production needs is critical to sustain our momentum and secure the future of professional theatre in Bangor.”
To watch the video, learn more and to donate, visit www.penobscottheatrecompany.causevox.com/.