AUGUSTA — The Colonial Theater’s first executive director left the job earlier this year after he and theater leaders agreed the theater project in its current state, in need of significant fundraising, was not a good fit for him.

By mutual agreement, Peter Bezemes left the post overseeing the theater restoration project about a month ago, according to Richard Parkhurst, chairman of the theater’s board of directors.

“We weren’t ready for him,” Parkhurst said. “His expertise is in construction and programming, and this wasn’t a good use of his skills. Fundraising, we weren’t able to get off the ground.”

Parkhurst said while Bezemes has strong fundraising skills, he was not able to provide the boost in fundraising the project needed.

“Part of it may have been he’s not local,” Parkhurst said. “We had a lot of work to do, to get him out in front of people who’d give the funds. That may have been a poor choice for us. He’s skillful in fundraising, but we kind of had him out of his element.”

Bezemes came to Augusta from Branson, Missouri, but is a native of Massachusetts with more than 30 years in the entertainment business — much of that time overseeing theaters.

Parkhurst said Bezemes’ departure was amicable and the Colonial Theater will likely use him as a consultant on the project in the future. He said those involved came to the conclusion the job and Benzemes were not a good fit.

“He’s going to work with us as a consultant,” Parkhurst said. “We weren’t geared up enough to keep him busy in this capacity (as a full-time executive director). We were exploring our next options and it became apparent we were kind of not ready for his capabilities.”

Bezemes could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Parkhurst said the theater group will likely hold off from hiring another executive director, especially given donations to a theater project has taken a back seat as donors focus on their own needs and on helping programs that help people deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, work on the facade of the historic-but-dilapidated theater has been paused so painting can take place when temperatures warm. Scaffolding remains setup, allowing work to resume with the arrival of warmer days.

“We chose not to heat the space, and it made sense to everybody we’d get a better job if we waited until we can guarantee 40 degrees all day to do the painting,” Parkhurst said. “We’re ready to paint. We’re working right now on the templates, for five different colors of paint.”

He said the project will move forward despite the setbacks of losing its executive director and fundraising being hindered by the spread of COVID-19.

“I think people should know that in spite of the fact we’re paused a bit, we’re very excited about it and we are moving forward with planning,” Parkhurst said.

“The funding will come and we’ll have a great theater there. Downtown has been doing great. The theater will be the icing on the cake. We’re not discouraged at all. We’re facing realities, and we’ll be as strong as we were before.”

 


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