About Us

Waterville Creates enriches lives and grows the creative economy by supporting and promoting high-quality, accessible arts and cultural programs and institutions.

The Waterville Opera House enhances quality of life and builds community through the performing arts.

The Maine Film Center educates, entertains, and builds community through film.

Ticonic Gallery + Studios enhance the creative and artistic vitality of our community through outstanding arts education and exhibitions.

History

Waterville Creates was established in 2014 by a core group of local organizations with a shared goal to strengthen the arts in Waterville through thoughtful collaboration. These founding partners were the Colby College Museum of Art, Common Street Arts, the Maine Film Center, Waterville Main Street, the Waterville Opera House, and the Waterville Public Library. With the support of these and other diverse community partners, WC built an active and engaged board, talented staff, and a program of work that established it as the coordinating entity for arts and culture in Waterville.

After careful analysis and planning, WC merged with Common Street Arts in 2016 and with the Waterville Opera House and Maine Film Center in November 2018 in order to create efficiencies in marketing, development, accounting, and other administrative services while strengthening and expanding arts and cultural programming. Under this consolidated organizational structure, WC offers a diverse array of year-round arts programming, including community theatre productions, live music concerts, dance performances, and live broadcast presentations at the Waterville Opera House, daily film screenings at Railroad Square Cinema, the annual, 10-day Maine International Film Festival, regular art exhibitions and arts education opportunities at Ticonic Gallery + Studios (formerly Common Street Arts), and numerous free, collaborative community arts events and programs.

A unique model of collaboration, WC has demonstrated that together we are stronger. With a diverse and talented staff dedicated to advancing the arts in Waterville, we are able to develop innovative, multidisciplinary programming that builds on the decades-long legacies of our beloved arts institutions.

Since its construction in 1902 to celebrate the City of Waterville’s centennial, the Waterville Opera House has hosted countless events including plays, musicians, vaudeville acts, dancers, poets, circuses, and more. It functioned as a theatre and meeting place for the first forty years of its existence. Starting in 1913, silent films played at the Opera House and it served primarily as a movie theatre after WWII. Around 1960, the theatre transitioned back to its original function of hosting live performances. In 1973, the Waterville Opera House Improvement Association was founded with the mission of maintaining and preserving the space. The association raised millions of dollars for the theatre and eventually oversaw a massive renovation in 2012.

Today, the Waterville Opera House has a thriving community theatre program, hosts concerts, and still takes advantage of its movie screen by co-hosting the Maine International Film Festival and showing high definition broadcasts of performances from across the globe. It also offers many programs for local children including travelling educational plays and four weeks of theatre camp. Often referred to as a “hidden gem” by those who see it for the first time, its architecture never fails to impress. Most importantly, it has continued to follow the vision laid out by community leader, Frank Redington, during his address at the June 23, 1902 building dedication: “Here we may laugh, and here we may cry. Here we may listen to the voice of the oratory and the charms of the oratorio. Here thousands may be swayed by the power of eloquence, and questions of great movement considered, debated and determined.” (Centennial History of Waterville).

In 1978 Railroad Square Cinema became Maine’s first independent art house cinema. Having grown from a single screen served by army surplus 16mm projection to three fully equipped digital projection theaters, Railroad Square Cinema has shown the best of American independent, international, and repertory film for over four decades and has served as an important and beloved cultural anchor of the community. A devastating fire destroyed the building in 1994, and with the support of local businesses, patrons, and organizations, the cinema was rebuilt at its current site.

In 1998 the annual Maine International Film Festival, a 10-day celebration of film, was launched at Railroad Square Cinema and the Waterville Opera House. In 2005, the Sundance Institute selected Railroad Square Cinema as one of only 12 theatres nationwide to be included in their Art House Project, a program designed to celebrate the importance of art house cinemas. In 2009, the Maine Film Center was formed to unite Railroad Square Cinema and the Maine International Film Festival under one 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Recognizing the value of collaboration and shared resources, the Maine Film Center merged with Waterville Creates in 2018, allowing it to continue expanding its programmatic reach in fulfillment of its mission to educate, entertain, and build community through film.

In 2012, with support from the Maine Arts Commission’s Creative Communities = Economic Development Grant, Common Street Arts opened its doors at 16 Common Street in downtown Waterville. The goal was to establish a non-profit collaborative arts space that included a gallery and studio teaching space. Thanks to the generous support of community partners, including the Colby Museum of Art, Waterville Public Library, Maine Film Center, Waterville Opera House, Waterville Main Street, and Colby’s Center for the Arts + Humanities, Common Street Arts quickly became a center for community gathering and creative expression, providing robust opportunities for professional and emerging artists to exhibit their work and for students of all ages and experience levels to engage in diverse arts education programs.

In 2016, Common Street Arts became an official program of Waterville Creates and moved across Castonguay Square to The Center building at 93 Main Street, where it benefited from greater exposure and developed a broader array of offerings, including a new clay studio. In September 2018, Common Street Arts and Waterville Creates moved to a new temporary home at the Hathaway Creative Center on Water Street as part of plans to redevelop The Center building as the Paul J. Schupf Art Center. In 2021, Common Street Arts was rebranded as Ticonic Gallery + Studios to reduce confusion caused by its outdated, location-based name and as a reference to Waterville’s Ticonic Falls natural historic landmark.


Staff

At Waterville Creates, our staff works together to fulfill our combined mission while focusing on our individual projects.

Shannon Haines

Waterville Creates
President + CEO
[email protected]

Patricia King

Waterville Creates
Vice President
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Serena Sanborn

Waterville Creates
Education + Outreach Coordinator
[email protected]

 

 

Phoebe Sanborn

Waterville Creates
Administrative Assistant
[email protected]

Tamsen Brooke Warner

Waterville Opera House
Executive Director
[email protected]

Tony Gerow

Waterville Opera House
Technical Director + Production Manager
[email protected]

James Kuzio

Waterville Opera House
Theatre Technician
[email protected]

Emilienne Ouellette

Waterville Opera House
Box Office Manager
[email protected]

Erik Thomas

Waterville Opera House
Programming Manager
[email protected]

Mike Perreault

Maine Film Center
Executive Director
[email protected]

Julia Dunlavey

Maine Film Center
Assistant Executive Director
[email protected]


Board of Directors

James LaLiberty, Chair
Jabar, LaLiberty, and Dubord

Elizabeth Finch, Vice Chair
Colby College Museum of Art

Sno Barry, Treasurer
BerryDunn

Lori Roming, Secretary
Unity Foundation

Brian Clark
Colby College

Amanda Cooley
Kennebec Savings Bank

Don Cragen
Thomas College

John Dalton
Retired from Northern Light Inland Hospital

Shannon Haines
Waterville Creates

Andrew Kaplan
Freedoms Edge Cider Company

Tammy Rabideau
Waterville Public Library

Debra Susi
Maine Central Institute