One Room Many Needs
Houlton High School was built in 1950 to serve the needs of the 600 students enrolled at that time. 180 students, or 30%, participated in one of the four available music programs. Today, more than 60% of enrolled middle school students and 45% of high school students are active participants in one or more of the school’s 13 musical ensembles. In addition, nearly twenty community organizations regularly make use of the meeting and performance space in the Houlton High School arts wing. A steadily increasing demand for additional creative arts opportunities in the Greater Houlton community has left the stage, wing space, practice rooms and even offices of Houlton High School filled to the rafters with instruments, musical scores and costumes.
Overcrowding in the high school arts area has led to frequent conflicts for educational space and significant limitations on performance opportunities. It has been difficult to expand the schedule of activities for the community, including performances, fundraisers, meetings, rehearsals, festivals and other statewide programs. Renovations and new construction must take place soon in order for community and school groups to continue to survive current space limitations.
The Houlton Community Arts Center project has a history that dates back to the inception of the project started by the MSAD #29 Music Boosters around the spring of 2002. The goal back then was to look into the possibility of expanding the Houlton High School music facilities due to the lack of space and safety concerns for the present area. The feeling of the music boosters was that there was a fabulous amount of dedicated students involved in the program, it was time to match the facilities with the caliber of music.
As the project began to develop, partnerships were made with the Houlton High School Alumni Association and financial support began to come in to get the project up and running. The MSAD #29 school board supported the preliminary investigation into looking at a $2-5 million project. As the project developed into a community entity, the naming of the project became clear, and the “Houlton Community Arts Center” was born. The advancing project then began to take shape as the Houlton Community Arts Center Council (HCACC) which became an official board, and is now a 501C3 organization charged with raising private funds for the project. Things progressed quickly from there.
- The HCACC along with the MSAD #29 school board, contracted with Design Group Collaborative, from Ellsworth Maine, to develop the project.
- It was agreed at that time to support a $5 million expansion and renovation of the auditorium and music area of Houlton High School. The school would also have a 13,000 square foot addition that adds a band room, chorus room, theater/dance space, and an art room.
- $2.5 million was approved in a November 2007 Bond Referendum.
- A private fundraising firm was hired to work with the HCACC and its designated fundraising committee to raise $2.5 millio
- Fundraising continues and grant writing is also being completed through out the course of this project
- The MSAD #29 School Board approved to partner with HCACC and begin phase one of the project, which is to complete a list of needed renovations at HHS, improve the entry area, and renovate the auditorium
The goal of the project is to have a ground breaking take place in May of 2009. There is a lot of work to be done leading up to that phase, please keep checking out our web pages for future information.
As of January 2010 we have successfully completed the first phase of our $5 million project. The auditorium and main audience entry areas has been completed. There was a tight turn around from the destruction that took place in June to the final completion in November of the auditorium and surrounding public areas. Work will continue as we look forward to planning the next phase, expanding the facilities by 13,000 sq ft.
As of April 2011 major donor signage has been completed and seat recognition plaques are in the works. The goal of the HCACC is to continue to raise funds and kick off our new campaign this spring which is the raising of funds for the naming of the David McGillicuddy Band Room.