May 23, 2018

USDA loan boosts Snow Pond Center development plans

Courtesy / Snow Pond Center for the Arts
Courtesy / Snow Pond Center for the Arts
Upgrades to the Bowl in the Pines amphitheater, and other projects at Snow Pond Center for the Arts in Sidney, are getting a boost with a $1.8 million USDA Community Facilities Loan.

SIDNEY — Snow Pond Center for the Arts will use a $1.8 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facilities Loan to upgrade the Bowl in the Pines amphitheater, as well as for several other projects that are part of the planned upgrade to the 88-year-old campus.

The loan was announced last week and Christa Johnson, director of development for the arts center, which includes Snow Pond Academy charter school and the New England Music Camp, said the money will go toward the 6,200-square-foot Learning Center, for additional classroom and rehearsal spaces, upgrades to campus roads and parking, and an additional 2,300 square feet for the performing and visual arts, as well as the consolidation of several small loans.

John Wiggin, executive director, said the campus-wide upgrade is part of an overall vision, which will will also benefit the Belgrade Lakes region.

The Bowl in the Pines is one of the nation's largest outdoor stages, according to Snow Pond officials. The amphitheater is part of the 40-acre campus on Messalonskee Lake.

With the planned improvements, Snow Pond plans to hold up to eight ticketed events on a larger scale and 12 free concerts a year.

"The renovations will help Snow Pond become one of the premier outdoor concert venues in New England, allowing all of central Maine to enjoy major national music performances in our own backyard," Wiggins said in a news release.

The upgrade will increase seating from 2,000 to 6,000, add electricity, lighting and other infrastructure and extend the stage, among other things.

The Bowl in the Pines has traditionally been the venue for free New England Music Camp concerts and still will be, said Johnson., But the expansion also allows an eclectic roster of national artists. The first will be The Fab Four, a British Beatles tribute band, which is scheduled to perform Sept. 5.

"It is likely to be largest act the venue has hosted based on audience scope and we couldn't be more excited," Johnson said.


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