Topsham stage repair drive halfway to fundraising goal

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TOPSHAM — A fundraising campaign for a new stage surface at the Orion Performing Arts Center is about halfway to its goal.

When Mt. Ararat Middle School – the center’s 66 Republic Drive home – was built in 2001, the stage was designed to be more shallow than what became the finished product, Orion Coordinator Judy Lloyd explained last week.

“It was too small,” she said. “They had a certain budget, and so in order to extend the stage to this size, they had to economize somewhere, and they economized on the stage surface.”

The plywood surface, with gouges, pits, peeling paint, and the danger of getting splinters, demonstrates you get what you pay for.

“It’s really underlayment plywood,” Lloyd said. “It’s not really made to be a surface.”

Aesthetics are important as well, she noted, “because it is a performing center, and part of performance is how it looks.”

Hence the $20,000 campaign, which so far has raised more than $10,000. The largest donation, $8,000, came from the Alfred M. Senter Fund. The center is also seeking other grants.

The center’s advisory committee has raised more than $2,000, thanks in part to food concession and raffle ticket sales, and a dinner at the Ninety-Nine restaurant.

There is also the center’s “Have a Seat” campaign, through which people can purchase brass plaques – in honor of a loved one, friend or student – which are attached to the backs of the Orion’s seats. A “Have a Seat” brochure is available at the center and at

The new floor will be made of tempered hardboard, which should last longer and holds paint better, Lloyd said.

Lloyd said it was hoped that the funds would be available to replace the stage this summer, but the project might have to be delayed until sometime next year.

The Orion hosts events like plays, school band and chorus concerts, arts performances, and community groups and meetings. It serves as home to the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra, and hosts the Coastal Youth Orchestra, Downeast Country Dance Festival, Midcoast Youth Theater, The Ballet School, Maine Coast Heritage Trust Land Conference, Oratorio Chorale, and New England Youth Theater.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A $20,000 fundraising campaign for a new stage floor at the Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham is about halfway to its goal. The current surface suffers from gouges, pits, peeling paint, and the danger of getting splinters, as pointed out by Orion Coordinator Judy Lloyd.

The Orion Performing Arts Center was built as part of Mt. Ararat Middle School in 2001.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.