WATERVILLE — A $6 million challenge grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation is helping support the Paul J. Schupf Art Center planned for downtown Waterville.

The art center at 93 Main St. is expected to cost between $18 million and $20 million.

When developed, the contemporary art gallery and center for art and film will promote art and culture in a distinctive hub for visual arts, performing arts, arts education and film for children and adults, according to organizers.

Paul J. Schupf

Schupf, an art collector and a longtime Colby College benefactor from Hamilton, New York, died last December. He was 82.

Schupf’s gift to Colby in April 2019 helped spearhead the art center project, although the gift amount was not disclosed at the time.

“The Harold Alfond Foundation is proud to support Waterville Creates! and its partnership with Colby College to develop the Paul J. Schupf Art Center,” Greg Powell, chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation, said in a statement to the news media.

“The community has already stepped up in a major way to support the capital campaign, and we hope that this challenge grant will provide extra incentive for businesses and individuals alike to contribute to this incredible project, which we believe will be a cornerstone of Waterville’s downtown revitalization.”

For every dollar contributed — in the past and future — to the Waterville Creates! community capital campaign, the foundation will provide $3 in matching funds, according to Powell.

When the community capital campaign crosses the $1 million mark, the foundation will commit another $3 million toward the project.

To date, Waterville Creates! has raised $680,000 in gifts and pledges from businesses, foundations and individuals. To access the Alfond grant, the organization needs to raise the remaining $320,000.

Groundbreaking for the art center is planned for this spring, with construction estimated to take about 18 months, according to organizers. If all goes as planned, the facility is expected to open in late 2022.

The grant is part of the Harold Alfond Foundations $500 million investment to boost the state’s workforce and economy and support health care.

“There has never been a building like the Paul J. Schupf Art Center in Waterville,” said James LaLiberty, chairman of the Waterville Creates! board of directors. “This project will have a major economic impact on the entire region and will ensure that our community will have access to outstanding arts opportunities for generations to come.

“Thanks to the Harold Alfond Foundation’s commitment to excellence in the arts both on Main Street and at Colby College, Waterville is poised to become a premier arts destination.”

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