Chocolate Church Arts Center, 804 Washington Street www.chocolatechurcharts.org
When and Why did you begin the enterprise?
The venerable old Gothic building that houses the Arts Center was saved from urban renewal destruction when artists and entrepreneurs lead by Jack Doepp, a New York theatre designer, acquired the old building. Built in 1847 and formerly known as Central Church, it soon became the Performing Arts Center of Bath (PACB) in 1977. No matter the diligence and early efforts, the name would not stick. Everyone referred to it as the Chocolate Church and it has been referred to as such ever since.
What do you offer?
CCAC is a growing and sustainable organization that builds community by cultivating the arts for everyone in the region from a landmark venue. Our performance season with music, theatre, comedy, dance, visual arts and family entertainment is September-June with an increasingly robust summer schedule.
Why do you love Bath?
We love attracting people into Bath creating a positive economic impact. Throughout the Sept-June season we entertain more than 6000 people and during the summer there is an additional 1000+ people who come into Bath for dinner, to window shop or visit stores when open, and some stay over night in local bed and breakfasts and hotels. We are grateful for the growing support of local businesses through advertising and show sponsorship that are essential for our operation. Access to cultural arts helps create the sense of place and quality of life that makes Bath so special.
What might surprise someone about you or your business?
People are surprised that so much is accomplished with only 3 staff people and legions of dedicated volunteers. Artistic expression transcends the box (or theatre or gallery) that it operates within. As formerly a church sanctuary, the acoustics of the main stage are unrivaled. That same stage has hosted Grammy award winning musicians as well as local and regional musicians. Community members of all ages have performed on that stage in theatre productions and dance performances. The historical significance is richly steeped in talent culminating through 40 years of showcasing a variety of cultural arts.
What are you excited about in the coming year?
Chocolate Church Arts Center announces summer schedule complete with international gypsy jazz concerts (The Django Festival Allstars, July 2 and The Sultans of String, August 4) and the theatrical production of the musical WORKING, based on Studs Terkel’s best-selling book of interviews with American workers (August 11) on the main stage. For the fourth consecutive year, the Chocolate Church will continue free admission concerts throughout downtown Bath, such as producing the Saturday, July 1 performance line up as part of Main Street Bath’s Heritage Days Festival in the gazebo within the Library Park on Washington Street. The following weekend, July 8 and subsequent Saturdays from 6:00-7:30pm thereafter will be the return of the free admission Summer Concert series in cooperation with the City of Bath in Bath Waterfront Park, located off Commercial Street downtown. This in addition to the 40th Anniversary 2017-18 performance season to be announced in July…
In conjunction with a new initiative, we’re also asking: What favorite local non-profits do you support?
Throughout the year we support Main Street Bath, Patten Free Library, RSU1, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Brunswick, MCAP Head Start, Brunswick Business Association, Bath Housing Authority and senior citizen centers.