March 28, 2020
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Community group organizing to save Pittsfield Community Theatre

Community Author: Center Theatre
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A group of concerned citizens in the PIttsfield area are coming together to try to save and revitalize the Pittsfield Community Theatre. Their vision goes beyond just restoring and refurbishing the Theatre, they hope to create a community center that will be a space for people of all ages to engage in various forms of art and culture.

 

The name for the non-profit they are organizing to do this work is the Bijou Theatre and Enrichment Center. The name harkens back to the Theatre’s name from 1918 to 1971. Many feel this was the Theatre’s golden age when it boasted of the state of Maine’s first cushioned swing back seats and was one of the most beautiful small-town theatres in New England. 

 

It is no secret that times have not been good for the Pittsfield Community Theatre. The Theatre is one of the few town-owned theaters in the country and, while supportive of the Theatre, the town has struggled to find the funds to continue to operate the Theatre and maintain the building. 

 

“Our goal in the short term is to raise money to help with the operation and upkeep of the Theatre,” said Ann Mathews the chair of the Bijou group. “As we look to the future, we hope to work with the town to start taking some of the burden off the town’s budget with the eventual goal of the non-profit taking ownership of the building and the theatre operations.”

 

The Bijou group knows it will be a challenge to raise the funds needed and keep the Theatre open, but they feel it’s important to keep the Theatre an active part of the community. 

 

While they work to create the 501(c)3 non-profit, they have enlisted the aid of another local theatre so that they can apply for grants and accept donations in the short-term. The Center Theatre, in Dover-Foxcroft, has agreed to act as a fiscal sponsor for the Bijou group. According to Patrick Myers, the Center Theatre’s executive director, donations can be made to the Center Theatre on behalf of the Bijou.

 

“We are happy to do what we can to help the Bijou,” Myers said. “We have set up a page on our website for the Bijou with information and a large ‘donate now’ button. Donations can also be made over the phone by calling the Center Theatre at 207-564-8943 or supporters can mail a check to the Center Theatre at 20 East Main St., Dover-Foxcroft, Maine 04426 — just make sure to write ‘Bijou Theatre’ in the memo line. Donations will be held by the Center Theatre for the benefit of the BIjou.”

 

By acting as a fiscal sponsor, the Bijou group can also apply for grants from foundations, corporations, or the government, but community support is essential for the Bijou Theatre and Enrichment Center to become a reality.

 

To become a part of the Bijou group or for more information, email  bijoutheatreandcenter@gmail.com. More information can also be found at the Center Theatre’s website, www.centertheatre.org, by clicking on the ‘Bijou Theatre’ link on their homepage. The Center Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission to make arts, education, and entertainment accessible to our rural communities to engage and inspire.