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*Ground was broken on April 5th  for the new Theatre & Community Arts Center

Running any business or non-profit organization in today's world isn't easy. Rebuilding and reopening a full service theatre and community arts center in a rural region like Downeast Maine is particularly daunting. But an impassioned effort to reopen the iconic Milbridge Theatre is gaining steam and stirring the passions and support of our community.


Our nearly 80-year-old theatre closed following the 2014 death of its longtime owner, Dave Parsons. The lack of entertainment and cultural offerings was keenly felt in our village of 1,300 and across a wide area of Downeast. However, a group of determined residents is working together, as Gateway Milbridge, to bring back the theatre as a new and expanded facility. We're making great progress and encountering support from many people who recognize this as a project undertaken by and for the community, aimed at improving the quality of life for us all.


The new Milbridge Theatre will not only show films, but will host live performances, local talent, historic and art film, educational programs, and other community events. Importantly, it will provide a venue for the region's youth to develop their artistic and creative interests.


Above all, bringing back the Milbridge Theatre as a full service community arts center will contribute greatly to our economy. It will create jobs and skill-building volunteer opportunities. Theatre-goers will go out to dinner, buy gas, poke around in the gallery and gift shops, and maybe even spend the night in town and visit nearby communities. With a central gathering place re-established and community activity increased, youth will have greater reason to stick around, and young adults from away may be more attracted to move here. Over time, such activity could inspire entrepreneurs to open new businesses, contributing to the growth and vitality of the region.


Investing in the vitality of Milbridge-with projects like bringing back the Milbridge Theatre-will ultimately attract visitors to the farther reaches of Washington County, bringing greater recognition to our local attractions, deeper exploration of our unique assets, and stronger investment in our economy by visitors and residents.


Gateway Milbridge, has a board comprised of community leaders and are residents who donate countless hours of their personal time. We've held several public awareness-building events and activities and have an extensive network of volunteers. Our Facebook page has over 2,000 members, and we've already raised over $400,000 from individual donors and organizations to propel the project forward.


As interim steps in the overall project of building the new Theatre and Community Arts Center, we purchased the existing theatre building and land, removed the structurally unsound portions of the building, refurbished/reopened the Marquee Shoppe section as a mini-museum, cleared/prepped the remainder of the lot, and built a seasonal, outdoor stage.  


Starting in August 2017, we began hosting FREE, live music performances and films using the new outdoor stage. Since then, a regular series of Friday night events has been planned each summer with music, movies, and other performances- right in the middle of town.  The goal is to have "something for everyone" from across the area.  


Now, we are continuing to move forward with our campaign effort which seeks funding from a variety of sources, including local individuals, local businesses, foundation grants, public grants for community development, and significant volunteer efforts. No funding is being sought or provided from the town government or local tax dollars.


We have a business plan in place to take us through the next three to four years.  The business plan draws from extensive interviews with other theatres in the region and from major donors and gifting groups/foundations across Maine.   


In addition, we are working with architects to help us complete design concepts for the new building.  Our goal is to have a modern and flexible-use building with a street-front appearance replicating the original theatre as much as possible while blending well with surrounding buildings.


Please help us keep the momentum and progress going.   Your support is critical to this project.  Gateway Milbridge is a 501c3 designated nonprofit organization.  Donations are tax-deductible. You can make a tax-deductible donation on our website by credit card, or you may donate by check.  Check donations may be made payable and sent to:     Gateway Milbridge, PO Box 62, Milbridge, ME  04658


On behalf of all of us at Gateway Milbridge, thank you for helping us bring back the Milbridge Theatre while reinvigorating Milbridge's downtown and sense of community spirit!

Letter from the Chair