June 06, 2020
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Dover-Foxcroft theater renting out its marquee to keep community connected

Ernie Clark | BDN
Ernie Clark | BDN
A message on the marquee at the Center Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft on Monday encouraged social distancing.

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DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Like many other venues of its kind, the Center Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft is closed these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But some theater officials are still at work. Instead of showing movies and hosting live events, they hope to collaborate with the local performing arts community in a unique effort to boost residents’ spirits while still generating income to help support the nonprofit enterprise.

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The theater has launched a campaign, “Keeping in Touch,” in which it will organize videos to be sent out online as well as rent its marquee to community members to deliver more public messages to family and friends.

“It’s kind of a broad umbrella,” Center Theatre executive director Patrick Myers said. “We’re planning to do a lot of different things to keep our communities connected while we’re all kind of locked down and isolated.”

Myers said the idea stemmed from conversations at the theater, including among its board of directors.

“It’s just from realizing that even though we are all having to keep our distance, it’s more important than ever to keep in touch with each other and maintain that social and emotional health while we’re also maintaining our physical health,” he said.

“We’re hoping this in some small way will help people do that.”

The theater for the past week has been seeking volunteers with talents ranging from singing and dramatic interpretation to hula-hooping and dancing to contribute those skills to the effort.

“If they’d be willing to record short videos then we’ll coordinate those performers with people in the community who might want to give a fun video as a surprise gift to someone,” Myers said. “Even if they’re looking for a little extra joy in their own lives, they can get in touch with us, let us know what they’re looking for and we’ll connect them with the performers and the performers will record a video and we’ll send it on to them and hopefully brighten their day a little.”

Community members may make a $10 donation for an online message or a $25 donation for the marquee space, with proceeds supporting the theater.

“From working in the theater I know a lot of performers from the local community and farther afield who are honestly going a little stir crazy,” Myers said. “A large part of their lives is performing for others and they’re unable to do that right now. Hopefully this will give the performers an outlet as well.”

For information on volunteering for the project or anyone with an interest in sending out a message either online or on the theater’s marquee, access centertheatre.org, connect to the Center Theatre Facebook page or call 564-8943.

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