Board readies special fundraising effort to support purchase and renovation
Bangor, ME – Penobscot Theatre Company announced its plans today to transform former Fire Station #6, a city-owned property at 4 Griffin Road, Bangor, into a theatrical production hub. The announcement follows last night’s vote of the Bangor City Council to approve the property sale. “The availability of this unique building presented an unexpected opportunity we couldn’t resist,” said Fritz Oldenburg, vice president of the theatre’s board of directors and head of its facilities committee, “the chance to meet three critical facility needs and position the theatre for sustainable growth.” Once renovated, the 4,800-square-foot building will house the company’s scene shop, serve as living quarters for production apprentices, and provide costume storage space.
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,” explained Producing Artistic Director Bari 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, valuable 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 Oldenburg, “but certainly we can and should make better use of the considerable space above the second-floor rehearsal room.”
“Purchasing the firehouse, a uniquely multifunctional property, opens a world of opportunity,” said Executive Director Mary Budd, “but with a purchase price of $225,000 and about $24,000 in needed renovations, we can’t do it alone. To date, the theatre has received grant funds totaling $15,000 for the purchase and renovation. To help cover the remaining costs, we’ll be appealing to the community that has supported our work enthusiastically and generously for 41 consecutive seasons.”
“We’re confident this project will resonate with area businesses, residents, and patrons of the arts who value our role as an economic driver and one of the region’s cultural pillars. 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. 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. We look forward to sharing the details of our fundraising plans after the holidays.”
“It’s been a pleasure to work with the city’s economic development staff,” added Oldenburg, “We’re grateful for the Council’s support and eager to bring new life to this long vacant property.”