BUCKSPORT — A local committee is proposing the construction of a $1.6 million auditorium to stimulate the arts in the community, and provide a major performance space.
If approved, the 500-seat facility could be funded through some combination of grants or other funds.
The Cultural Arts Auditorium Study Committee on Wednesday put finishing touches on a 20-minute presentation it will make at the next Town Council meeting, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, at the Bucksport Town Office.
Committee members say the auditorium is needed because Bucksport has no facility designed specifically for large cultural events. “There are people out there who have functions who can’t put them on in this town,” said panelist Gail Hallowell, who mentioned art exhibits and community theater among the events the multipurpose facility could accommodate.
The seven-member panel of community members has spent six months researching feasibility, assisted by Bangor architect David Merritt, who donated graphic rendering services.
As envisioned, the three-level facility of up to 12,000 square feet would be built into a sloped lot the town owns to the left of Bucksport High School on Broadway, a site the panel favored over others for its visibility and access.
The building would include a stage, fixed and portable seating, display space, music rooms and workshop space. It could house school plays and band concerts as well as other community events.
Resident and school board member George Hanson said he became the committee’s chairman out of enthusiasm for the project. “I’ve gone to countless band concerts and plays and come away grumbling because I couldn’t hear,” said the parent of three. “We don’t have comfort for the performer or the audience, whereas this building is designed to do that.”
To research the project, committee members visited auditoriums in schools and towns of similar size, including Hermon and Ellsworth. One reason they set their sights on 500 seats was to accommodate the entire Bucksport High School student body, said panelist Mark Neslusan.
In addition to enhancing quality of life, the auditorium could also bring in revenue by attracting visitors to town, said committee member Marc Curtis, Bucksport’s school superintendent.
Local voters indicated some enthusiasm for the project on a survey distributed last Election Day. Of those who completed the survey, 334 supported the auditorium idea, while 109 were undecided and 100 opposed it.