Johnson Hall Capital Campaign Director Carrie Arsenault, left, and Executive Artistic Director Michael Miclon unveil the Raise the Curtain campaign for the historic opera house with a matching challenge gift of $250,000 from Peter and Sandra Prescott and Team EJP on July 9 at Gardiner’s Johnson Hall. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal file

GARDINER — As officials at Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center plan for a fundraising concert in September to support its renovation project, a request for federal funds has passed a significant hurdle.

On Aug. 4, the Gardiner City Council approved a conditional permit to allow Johnson Hall to hold a fundraising concert Sept. 11 at Waterfront Park near the pump station at the north end of the park.

Michael Miclon, the executive artistic director at Johnson Hall, said two anonymous donors have pledged to produce a ticketed performance of The Maine Dead Project to help raise the final $850,000 needed to kick off the $5.5 million renovation of the historic opera house next year. The donors pledged to also match ticket sales for that event.

In July, Miclon announced that construction is expected to start in April 2022. At the same time, he announced a $250,000 matching gift challenge from Peter and Sandra Prescott and Team EJP.

“Anything we raise, they will match” Miclon said.

Johnson Hall plans to sell 200 tickets at $25 each. That could raise $5,000 directly, which would be matched by the anonymous gift and could then also be matched again with the Prescott/EJP gift, for a total of $20,000.


A rainy view of Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center on July 9 on Water Street in downtown Gardiner. The center is in the midst of a capital fundraising campaign as has announced recently anonymous and matching fund pledges. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

In an announcement issued Thursday, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, said the $411,710 requested on behalf of Johnson Hall had passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of its appropriations process.

The funding request was made through the Community Project Funding program, which allows federal elected representatives to seek earmarked funding for projects in their districts. Golden included Johnson Hall’s request on the list of projects he submitted for consideration.

Now that it has passed the House, the funding request will undergo review and votes in the U.S. Senate. Both Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King have included Johnson Hall’s request in their earmark requests.

The permit granted by the City Council is conditioned on approval by the appropriate city department heads.

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