Bellows Falls Opera House continues to diversify

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – The Bellows Falls Opera House continues to expand its offerings with several future events lined up. After a well-received production of “Sweeney Todd” by Main Street Arts, additional live performances have been lined up including an upcoming Southern Vermont Idol that will have its first session on June 22. Interim Municipal Manager Shane O’Keefe stated that the town did not lose money during the “Sweeney Todd” showing and actually profited $2,573.

The Town Hall and Opera House building was originally constructed in 1926 and from 2004 to 2006 underwent a $3.7 million restoration project to accommodate both movies and live performances. The building renovations included new, state-of-the-art movie, sound and lighting equipment; a rigging grid, catwalk and full-height fly space; a new greenroom and increased seating capacity.

Bellows Falls Opera House Manager Rick Angers stated that he was “pleasantly surprised” with how well the “Sweeney Todd” event turned out. Angers continued that the Main Street Arts group was very easy to work with and he agreed that the Opera House should be used for events other than movies. However, he asked that he be allowed to check out what movies are being released before committing to any dates at this time. Robert McBride, founder and director of the Rockingham Arts & Museum Project, and Ray Massucco, founder and owner of Vermont Festivals, spoke in support of Main Street Arts and the utilization of the Bellows Falls Opera House.

O’Keefe noted that the Opera House would not be able to open to live performances if a big box office movie like “Beauty and the Beast” was scheduled, as the movie promoters could walk away, which would leave the Opera House in a very bad position. O’Keefe emphasized that it was essential for the town to cover the cost of these presentations, adding that “we did better with the theatre production than a first run movie.”

Southern Vermont Idol & Events producer Susan MacNeil discussed the use of the Bellows Falls Opera House for several events. MacNeil stated that she has been working with the Rockingham Arts & Museum Project to bring two events, “Exhibitions on Screen” and “Broadway HD” to the community. She continued that she has already worked out a schedule with Opera House Manager Angers for the Southern Vermont Idol event. A motion was passed to charge a $100 per night rental fee for Southern Vermont Idol, plus the town would receive one dollar per ticket after 200 tickets are sold, plus $20 per hour for the town representative and all concession proceeds. An additional motion to charge $50 rental fee for the first night of the program and $100 per night thereafter also passed.

Additional meeting items: O’Keefe reminded everyone that property taxes are due on Wednesday, May 10. He announced that there will be a household hazardous waste collection at the Springfield Transfer Station on May 13; Select Board member Ann DiBernardo stated that she heard that the lights on the Arch Bridge are being turned off and asked O’Keefe if he had any information on this. O’Keefe stated that he has been in touch with the Walpole Select Board and they are working on trying to get these left on.

Access permit, Reed & Reed, Inc., Golden Hill Road: O’Keefe stated that this permit is in conjunction with the State of Vermont project on the bridge on Interstate 91 over the Williams River. The permit will also be extended for four years. A motion was made to approve the access permit as presented and authorize the Select Board chair to sign on behalf of the town passed.

FY2017 YTD budget status: O’Keefe noted that they are now 82.5 percent through the fiscal year and tax revenues are over 100 percent. He reminded the board of the $346,000 payment to TransCanada. O’Keefe stated that the town is now $129,000 to the good. He continued that at the last meeting the question was asked about a line item that showed miscellaneous revenue. O’Keefe stated that this was from tax sales.

Executive session: A motion that the board sign the stipulation agreement for a property value of $149,000 with Robert and Heidi Hitchcock as presented passed at the session.

The complete minutes of the meeting can be found at www.rockbf.org and watched at fact8.com.

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