In response to Governor Mills’ Moving Maine Forward plan, Waterville Creates is thrilled to announce its plans to resume in-person programming at the Waterville Opera House, Railroad Square Cinema, and various outdoor venues. Waterville Creates’ reopening plan is gradual in its approach and will be guided by strict safety and public health practices and protocols, including social distancing, masking of all staff and patrons, and enhanced cleaning and air filtration systems.
“We are excited to return to our core mission of providing live, in-person arts experiences,” says Waterville Creates President + CEO Shannon Haines. “We also take our responsibility to protect our community very seriously, and we have developed safety standards and expectations for each of our venues that we will explicitly communicate and enforce in order to meet that responsibility.”
Based on the state’s guidelines, Waterville Creates plans to reopen the Waterville Opera House for rentals beginning June 1 to accommodate spring dance recitals. The maximum capacity of the Opera House with social distancing is less than 250, which is about 30% percent of the venue’s full capacity of 810 seats. “We are incredibly excited to open the Opera House doors and welcome performers back to the stage,” says Waterville Opera House Executive Director Tamsen Brooke Warner. “The health and safety of our patrons, staff, and performers is our top priority, so we will be asking everyone to work together to ensure a safe environment as we resume in-person programming.”
Railroad Square Cinema will open in July with the 24th annual Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) and will remain open with regular first run arthouse film programming after the festival concludes. MIFF, which will be held July 9-18, will also include screenings at the Waterville Opera House and the Skowhegan Drive-In. “While we were thrilled to be able to offer an in-person experience last year at the Drive-In, it was the first time in 23 years that we didn’t host the festival at Railroad Square Cinema,” says Maine Film Center Executive Director Mike Perreault, adding, “We cannot wait to welcome people back to the cinema, and MIFF24 is really the perfect way to do it.”
Plans for reopening Ticonic Gallery + Studios are still in development, in part due to very limited capacity with social distancing, but Waterville Creates anticipates reopening the gallery at the Hathaway Creative Center in the fall.
Waterville Creates will resume outdoor programming with Art in the Park, at the Downtown Waterville Farmers’ Market, from June through September. Art in the Park is a free artmaking programming designed to engage residents of all ages in fun, creative activities in a welcoming environment. Due to popular demand, Waterville Creates, in coordination with its community partners, plans to continue its Art Kits for All distribution program throughout the year. Preliminary plans are also underway to host the popular Waterville Rocks outdoor concert series, but this programming is dependent on the loosening of State restrictions.
Due to the pandemic, the Waterville Opera House rescheduled several concerts over the past year for dates in late summer and early fall 2021, including the Femmes of Rock on August 27, LeAnn Rimes on September 17, and the High Kings on September 30. Plans for these shows are dependent on further relaxation of social distancing requirements and other protocols. The Waterville Opera House will communicate any further event changes to patrons by website, email newsletter, and social media.
All venues will adhere to strict capacity limits based on state guidelines for percentage caps and social distancing requirements. Patrons will be required to wear masks at the venues while not eating or drinking and to participate in outdoor in-person programs. Waterville Creates staff will continue to follow the guidance of government and public health officials and adjust its reopening plans accordingly.