Page 57 - WCM Summer 2022
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Valerie and Millie take turns describing the varied hats they wear: producers, set-builders, grant-writers, stage managers, and educators to the young to ensure succession planning and sustainability. “We do
four productions a year,” Valerie continued. “Three in the summer, and one in winter. We’ve brought Bob Marley up here twice. We’ve produced original shows. A local woman, Janice Adler, wrote a script called Self-Storage, The Contents of Our Lives, that was extremely popular. I submitted a grant to the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation to put it up. It empowered us to realize we could do original work, so we did Serendipity – also a hit!”
Rangeley Friends of the Arts survived the pandemic. The blackout was used to refurbish the space, another grassroots venture. “As a 501(c)(3) [non-profit], it takes a group of people who love theater and are willing to donate their time,” Millie explains. “Yes,” Valerie says. “Our backbone is our volunteers and 16-person work- ing board. We have an art gallery, a summer concert series, a summer camp, and an after school program.” Millie chimes in, “Our live theater supports most of our programs. No one is turned away, and we even have a $1,000 scholarship for graduating seniors. We really do bring arts to life.” Valerie adds, “We turn
no one away. A willing heart and some time is all we
require. We’ll train anyone to do anything – tech, per- forming, or being part of the crew. “We had a student named Billy – she was shy. We were her safe place. When she got to college, the technical knowledge she received here landed her in the college’s theater. She’s now getting her master’s degree. She reached out to us and said, ‘(RFA) made my life blossom.’”
49 Franklin
Scot and Cindy Grassette were born, raised and educated in the River Valley region. They met in 1985, and married in 1990. Both shared an interest in having their own venue someday, largely the result of a thriving 13-year DJ business that required travel throughout northern New England, hauling thou- sands of pounds of equipment. This vocation allowed them to observe hundreds of destinations for events. “We traveled everywhere,” Cindy said. “I dealt with caterers and set-up, and Scot managed the business and tech end of things. We looked at these buildings critically, and fantasized about what we’d do.”
“We learned so much while DJing, but we weren’t
in the market to buy a place,” Scot added. In the late 90s, the Methodist church at 49 Franklin Street in Rumford went on the market. Neither was serious about putting in an offer, but the price dropped, and they jumped. “The church board had a few bids, and
RFA’s DIVA participants hamming it up for the fans at Lakeside Theater in Rangeley.
 Rangeley Friends of the Arts

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