Arielle Ebacher performs tight-wire as theater meets circus in Celebration Barn’s drive-thru production "Just Outside the Window.” Courtesy of Michael Menes/Celebration Barn.

PORTLAND & ELLSWORTH — An anonymous Maine Community Foundation donor has provided $200,000 in general support grants to 20 community theaters across Maine to help sustain them during the pandemic shutdown.

“In addition to its emergency response to COVID-19, the Maine Community Foundation and its donors are working to build resiliency in Maine communities,” said MaineCF President and CEO Steve Rowe. “In this case, an anonymous donor has chosen to shine a spotlight on smaller community theaters and how they are a critical part of a community’s identity and creative spirit. We are grateful for the donor’s generosity and vision.”

Among the grant recipients, Bagaduce Theater in Brooksville canceled its summer season of four plays and let go its administrative staff and company of actors who were to begin rehearsals in May. The theater’s property with large fields provided space to build an outdoor stage to accommodate social distancing of actors and audiences alike. This summer they held a series of staged readings that followed safety protocols.

Likewise, Celebration Barn in South Paris canceled its existing summer programming due to COVID-19. The theater was able to maintain two part-time staff members and design new summer programming, including outdoor on-site performances, online performance training, and circus arts theater classes for children. The theater will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022.  

Wintergreen Arts Center in Presque Isle discontinued its creative preschool and afterschool arts programming and replaced it with free online arts education programming as a resource for families. This fall they will be offering some performing arts classes. The center has seven paid positions and is moving to a new space at the Aroostook Centre Mall, which will include a theater area.

Maine theaters awarded grants:

Bagaduce Theatre, Brooksville

Belfast Maskers

Celebration Barn Theater, South Paris

Center Theatre, Inc., Dover-Foxcroft

City Theatre, Biddeford

Deertrees Theatre Limited, Harrison

Denmark Arts Center

Eastport Arts Center

The Grand Auditorium, Ellsworth

LA Public Theatre, Lewiston

Lakewood Theatre, Madison

Lincoln Theater, Damariscotta

New Surry Repertory Theatre and Acting School, Blue Hill

Opera House Arts, Stonington

Rangeley Friends of the Performing Arts

Saco River Theater, Bar Mills

Schoodic Arts for All, Winter Harbor

The Theater at Monmouth

Waterville Creates!

Wintergreen Arts Center, Presque Isle

Headquartered in Ellsworth, with additional personnel in Portland, Dover-Foxcroft and Mars Hill, the Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to provide strong investments, personalized service, local expertise, and strategic giving to improve the quality of life for all Maine people. To learn more about the foundation, visit www.mainecf.org.