WATERVILLE — The future $18- to $20-million Paul J. Schupf Art Center on Main Street downtown got a major boost Monday with the announcement of a $100,000 gift from Kennebec Savings Bank for the project.

Waterville Creates! announced the gift at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Railroad Square Cinema, one of the venues for the 22nd annual, 10-day Maine International Film Festival, which is now in full swing.

Waterville Creates!, a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes art and culture in Waterville, and Colby College, are working together on the art center project, seeking to create a distinctive hub for visual arts, performing arts, arts education, and film for children and adults, according to a Waterville Creates! press release.

The Kennebec Savings gift will support a $2 million community capital campaign Waterville Creates! is leading for the art center. In recognition of the gift, one of the cinemas in the new building will be named the “Kennebec Savings Bank Screening Room.”

In April, longtime Colby College benefactor and college Trustee Emeritus Paul J. Schupf, for whom the center is being named, donated what officials deemed a “remarkable gift,” while declining to give a specific dollar amount. Before that, Schupf  committed $2 million for the Colby College Museum of Art contemporary art gallery in the future center, also to bear his name.

Then in May, actor Ed Harris pledged $75,000 to the effort. Harris lived and worked in Waterville in 2003 while filming the HBO movie, “Empire Falls,” which was filmed partly in Waterville, and he was a recipient of the film festival’s Mid-Life Achievement Award in 2004. In recognition of his gift, the box office at the Schupf Center will be called the “Ed Harris Box Office.”

After Harris’ gift was announced, other local businesses and organizations followed suit, donating in some cases, $25,000 each.

Waterville’s Paul J. Schupf Art Center, seen here downtown on Monday, is receiving a $100,000 gift from Kennebec Savings Bank. Morning Sentinel photo by Scott Monroe

The Schupf Center will bring the Maine Film Center, Common Street Arts, and the new gallery of the Colby Museum of Art, the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, under one roof at 93 Main St. in a building now referred to as The Center.

The building, which will be redeveloped, is in the heart of downtown — next to City Hall, the Waterville Opera House and Castonguay Square, a park at the center of the city that also is scheduled for redevelopment.

“In addition to enhancing Waterville’s reputation as a destination for arts and culture, this new facility will add vitality to downtown Waterville during both the daytime and evening hours and serve as an economic driver for the region,” the Waterville Creates! release says.

“Our roots run deep in Waterville, and we recognize just how important this new arts center will be to the region,” Andrew Silsby, president and chief executive officer of Kennebec Savings Bank, said in the release. “We are proud to support and be a part of a collective vision to make Waterville a premier arts and culture destination.”

Kennebec Savings Bank was a lead capital campaign supporter of the Head of Falls RiverWalk project and continues to play a key role in the revitalization of downtown Waterville, the release says.

“Kennebec Savings Bank has consistently been a strong champion of the arts in our community through their sponsorship of the Waterville Opera House, the Maine International Film Festival, Waterville Rocks!, and more,” said Shannon Haines, president and chief executive officer of Waterville Creates!. “We are so thankful for their ongoing contribution to local arts programming and now for this incredible gift to our community capital campaign.”

Haines was the director of MIFF when Harris received the festival’s Mid-Life Achievement Award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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