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Gus La Casse Concert

Acadian Fiddle Playing
at its best!
Friday, May 17th 7:00pm

$10 General Admission

Gateway Milbridge was formed to assist with a downtown economic and cultural revitalization effort to benefit and engage the residents of Milbridge and our surrounding area through a variety of small and large community focused projects. The projects we undertake benefit 18,000 residents of diverse demographics in our rural Downeast region from Ellsworth to Lubec.

As part of our overall mission, we:

However, our largest program has been rebuilding and reopening the Milbridge Theatre as a modern, full-service theater and community arts center.  The Milbridge Theatre and Community Arts Center (MTCAC) is designed to serve as a community anchor by providing a flexible venue and much-needed community gathering space for performances, cultural arts, educational programming, and film for all area residents on an equal access basis.  This project was started in 2016 and came to fruition with a grand opening in August 2023.

The Milbridge Theatre has been a community icon since it was built in 1937.  Area residents relied on the theatre for entertainment and gathering because such opportunities here are few and often a great distance away.  It was one of the few facilities we had for creating a strong sense of community and belonging for area residents of all ages. Generations of our region's youth spent countless weekends of their lives at the theatre engaging in much-needed social and cultural interaction.  Its closure, following the death of its owner in 2014, left a deep economic void in the center of town and a lack of artistic/cultural opportunities and programming for our community.

When we embarked on this project, we held community meetings and conducted a detailed community survey to gauge interest and objectives in rebuilding and reopening the Milbridge Theatre.  We received numerous responses reflecting overwhelming support to see the theatre reopened and expanded as a full-service Theatre and Community Arts Center offering a wide range of artistic, educational, and entertainment programming.

The new MTCAC is a 6,000 sq.ft. facility, with seating for more than 210, is the second largest handicap accessible, fully climate-controlled auditorium in Washington County.  The building was designed to be an efficient, easy to maintain, comfortable, year-round facility which can be enhanced over time.  The arts center features a spacious performance hall, full stage, theatre sound/lighting systems, classroom, art gallery, concessions area, and so much more.  It is designed to serve all residents of Milbridge and our surrounding communities and can host a variety of year-round programming including live music, historic/educational film, cultural shows, live theatre, classes, dance, school performances, art exhibits, and children/youth programming.

This process enabled us to have access to a year-round facility as quickly as possible. For the needs of the community, it was the fastest and most economical way to get a year-round, climate-controlled building built and operating.  Now, with a completed, comfortable structure in place, we can move into our next phase as fundraising enables us to enhance the facility with digital projection, full screen, and satellite programming systems.

Rural areas like ours face many difficult headwinds these days.  The economic and social redevelopment projects we are engaged in and our work in rebuilding and reopening the Milbridge Theatre as a full-service community arts center are critical to the region's economy and our residents' quality of life.  Our projects put emphasis not only on providing our region with a year-round venue for arts and educational programming, but also:

Phases 1 and 2 (Jan-December 2016) - Raise the initial funds necessary to purchase the existing theatre building/land and cover the cost of insurance, taxes, and legal work. Develop of a professional long term business plan, initiate building design options and continue fundraising.

Estimated Cost- $72,000 COMPLETED

Phase 3 (January-December 2017) - Remove the structurally unsound portions of the building, retain the Marquee Shoppe piece of the structure, store historic items for preservation, stabilize the site by creating a simple, park-like space, refurbish/reopen the Marquee Shoppe as a mini-museum of the theatre’s history, and build an outdoor stage to be used and enjoyed immediately by the community for outdoor programming/ film while raising money for the new building.

Estimated Cost- $29,000 COMPLETED

Phases 4-7 Capital Campaign and Construction (2018-2023) - Plan and construct a new facility that can be enhanced and expanded over time.  Includes rebuilding and equipping the structure in a basic manner for use as a year-round, fully climate-controlled, Theatre and Community Arts Center for a wide range of artistic, educational, and entertainment programming.

Estimated Cost- $690,000 COMPLETED

Phase 8 Facility Enhancement (2023-2024)-  Enhance the new building with advanced stage lighting, updated sound equipment, acoustic tiles, and updated digital projection systems.

Estimated Cost- $155,000 IN PROCESS

Project Details