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Theatre Quick Update!


*Our 2019 summer schedule of FREE "Friday Night Live" events with outdoor films and concerts every Friday night will be announced by March 1.   

The Milbridge Theatre has been a community icon since 1937. Residents relied on the theatre for entertainment and gathering together. Generations of the region's youth have spent countless weekends of their lives at this theatre engaging in critical social and cultural experiences.  Many "firsts" occurred here: first movie, first kiss, first date. Adults and families have relied on the theatre for entertainment and gathering together in this small community where larger social opportunities are sometimes rare and often a distance away.

The nearly 80-year-old theatre has been closed since the 2014 death of its longtime owner, Dave Parsons. The lack of entertainment and cultural offerings has been keenly felt in our village of 1,300 and across a wide area of DownEast. The vacant and dilapidated building, no longer safe for public occupation, is quickly becoming a blight in the village center.

However, a group of determined residents is working to purchase the site and rebuild the structure to restore a much-needed community-gathering place and entertainment hub. We're making solid progress and encountering support from many people who recognize this as a project undertaken by and for the community, aimed at increasing quality of life for us all.

Reconstructing the Milbridge Theatre will serve Downeast communities in the vast area between Ellsworth and Eastport. With the recent closing of the Ellsworth movie theatre, residents must travel up to 90 miles to see a first-run film, and 30-to-70 miles to see a live theatre performance.

The new Milbridge Theatre will not only show movies, but will have a broader operational and business scope to include hosting live performances, local talent, historic and art film, educational programs, and other community events. Importantly, it will provide a venue for the region's youth to develop their artistic and creative interests, gain life and employment skills, and cultivate their sense of civic engagement. A main focus of theatre programming will be on youth involvement in theatre, music, and film; and on providing a real theatre space for use by local schools and youth programs.

Bringing back the Milbridge Theatre will also contribute greatly to our economy. It will create professional jobs and skill-building volunteer opportunities. Theatre-goers will go out to dinner, buy gas, poke around in the gallery and gift shops, and maybe even spend the night in town and visit nearby communities. With a central gathering place re-established and community activity increased, youth will have greater reason to stick around, and young adults from away may be more attracted to move here. Over time, such activity could inspire entrepreneurs to open new businesses, contributing to the growth and vitality of the region.  To learn more about the positive impacts the theatre can bring to our area business community and the economic benefits for all of us, please click here to read the Milbridge Theatre Business Community Benefits Flyer.

We are assessing the most appropriate model for operating the theatre going forward, whether non-profit organization or for-profit business. Either way, the Milbridge Theatre will contribute significantly to our economy and the village's tax revenues. Gateway Milbridge will replace the existing building with a newly constructed, safe and modern theatre that will require an initial investment of several hundred thousand dollars-a significant increase to the building's currently assessed value.

This is a large undertaking and trying to do it all at once would be very difficult. That’s why we are breaking it down into more easily achievable segments (phases) while still keeping the overall project in mind. Each phase is designed to provide a successful outcome – a positive step forward with a solid accomplishment we can be proud of - and will be fully funded and completed before we move deeply into the next phase. 

New technology requires movie theatres to update to digital projection, which can be extremely expensive.  However, leasing options are available and our current cost estimates are based on available leasing options.

We're well on the way to making the Milbridge Theatre a reality. To help us meet our fundraising goals, Gateway Milbridge is embarking on a capital campaign. Our website,, provides up-to-date information about our efforts and how you can help and also visit us on our facebook page.

Project Details