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Nonprofit intends to revitalize CPAC

CARIBOU, Maine — A local nonprofit organization, The Center for Advancement of Rural Living is working to revitalize the Caribou Performing Art Center in its 30th anniversary year.

CPAC is the largest facility of its kind north of Bangor, and has often been compared to the Collins Center at the University of Maine in Orono. CARL has raised more than $10,000 to date and seeks the support of local businesses to sponsor events.

Darci Faye of Caribou, who manages a children’s theater group, is coordinating the effort and also wants to recruit community participation.

“We have been very pleased with our initial support from local businesses,” she said. “We are now in the process of booking some familiar acts as well as some exciting new performers.”

“This will be a wonderful initiative for this region,” said Tim Goff, branch manager of Machias Savings Bank in Presque Isle.  “We were pleased to be the first business to step up and provide sponsorship support. We hope this will encourage others to join in this worthwhile effort.”

Over the years CPAC has hosted numerous events.  In recent times activity has been infrequent and Lisa Prescott, president of the board of directors for CARL, said that CPAC represents a great opportunity to develop an ongoing entertainment center in The County.

“CPAC is a beautiful facility,” said Prescott.  “Many of the acts that have performed there praise the intimacy of the center and the quality of the acoustics.  It is a ‘first class’ performing arts center and we hope to make it a destination point for year-round, quality, family entertainment.”

Organizers hope to generate enough support to bring larger acts to the County.  The Bangor Symphony Orchestra, Three Dog Night, America, and other higher-priced performers have been contacted.  

“People pay hundreds of dollars to travel downstate to see this level of entertainment,” said Faye.  “CPAC seats over 800 people, and if people are willing to pay the same prices as they do going downstate we can bring acts like this to The County.”

CARL also hopes to offer theater productions, classical music, local talent reviews, children’s programs and more.  Faye said that the cooperation of the Caribou School Department and Superintendent Tim Doak have been key.

“We met with the superintendent before we began this project,” she said.  “He enthusiastically supported the effort. He was very interested in creating more opportunity for young people to participate in the arts and we intend to make this a key part of our mission.  Certainly due to the fact that CPAC is part of the Caribou High School campus, it is very important that we work closely with the school department.”

Prescott said CARL wants to re-establish Friends of the Arts, an advisory group that will help to develop a long-range plan and build community support for the performing arts center.

“This is really a major undertaking,” said Prescott. “We are going to need the support of individuals who believe that the arts are a vital part of creating a high quality of life, especially in rural communities like Aroostook County. We hope that people who have such an interest will respond and help us to form a strong advisory board.”

Friends of the Arts will meet the last Tuesday of every month from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Caribou Public Library.  Anyone interested in joining or becoming a sponsor should contact Faye by email at darci.faye@maine.edu.

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