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The arts are expanding on Exchange Street

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Dancers from Bangor Ballet rehearse in the grand ballroom in the Nichols Block. Dancers from Bangor Ballet rehearse in the grand ballroom in the Nichols Block. (edge photo by Allen Adams)

Bangor Arts Exchange coming to historic Nichols Block

BANGOR – A historic downtown building is going to have some new arts-driven tenants.

The Bangor Symphony Orchestra and Bangor-based arts incubator Launchpad have come together and will share occupancy in the historic Nichols Block. Through a long-term lease with ANM Properties, the owners of the building located at 187-193 Exchange Street, these organizations will have access to three floors.

Together, the two organizations will operate the building as the Bangor Arts Exchange, utilizing multiple spaces for regular programming and third-party rentals. Other arts organizations will potentially have access to administrative and/or performance space; Bangor Ballet has already sub-leased some space for an office.

The building will be used for an assortment of purposes by the BSO, including youth orchestra rehearsals, special performances, educational events and new programming. The BSO’s mainstage concerts will remain at the Collins Center for the Arts on the University of Maine campus.

The grand ballroom in the Nichols Block, once known as Society Hall, was one of the original homes of the BSO after its founding in 1896. With a capacity of 185 people, a small stage and unique architectural features, the space fills a void in the area and will likely prove ideal for performances, rehearsals, lectures, conferences, weddings and other special events.

“We could not be more excited to make our mark on downtown Bangor,” said BSO Music Director and Conductor Lucas Richman in a press release from the symphony. “This new space will be a home for music, education, and artistic collaboration that we hope will inspire and engage all of Bangor, and it signals an exciting new chapter for the BSO.”

Launchpad co-founders Meg Shorette and Josh Gass were also investigating the potential for a new, bigger venue downtown when BSO Executive Director Brian Hinrichs reached out to explore the possibility of a partnership. In the current arrangement, Launchpad will sub-lease office space from the BSO and migrate their Central Gallery programming to the new building’s ballroom and gallery, while overseeing third-party rentals as well. 

“This new project is the result of continued growth that we have seen at our Central Gallery space, and I think it’s an extension of a need that the community has been looking to fill for a creative hub and mid-size performance space for live music, entertainment, dance, film, etc,” Gass said. “Launchpad is thrilled to be a partner in this project and to make sure the arts and creative economy continues to be an important part of Downtown Bangor's development.

“I think Brian Hinrichs and everyone at the Symphony, as well as ANM Properties, has been fantastic, and they deserve all the credit in turning this concept into a reality,” he continued. “I hope everyone will check us out in September when we open and experience the wide range of programming we intend to offer.”

Adding to the collaborative nature of the project, Bangor Ballet will be using office space within the Bangor Arts Exchange, sub-leasing space from the BSO.

“We’re really excited about this,” said Andrea Stark, Interim Executive Director for Bangor Ballet. “We’re thrilled to be a part of this project; the accessibility and visibility of this space is just incredible.”

“The City is very excited about the Bangor Arts Exchange and the co-location of several incredible arts organizations in this formerly unused space,” said Tanya Emery, the City of Bangor’s Director of Community & Economic Development, in the release. “The ballroom has enormous potential, and the BSO’s move will strengthen Bangor’s arts and culture community while providing an incredible reuse of the amazing ballroom space. We look forward to seeing this exciting project move ahead!”

The Nichols Block first caught the attention of the BSO when it was purchased last fall by Adam Moskovitz of ANM Properties. After seeing photos online, Hinrichs and Richman toured the space with Moskovitz.

“After Adam showed us the building with this gem of a ballroom and we established the historical connections, our heads were spinning with the possibilities,” said Hinrichs. The initial visit sparked what would become a nearly eight-month long process of planning and research.

In addition to the grand ballroom on the third floor, there is a 900-square foot brick-walled gallery on the third floor and multiple offices on the second floor. Most of the offices will be used by staff from the BSO, Launchpad and Bangor Ballet; two will be converted to music studios for rent. The fourth-floor mezzanine includes an industrial kitchen and space for storage. An elevator provides access to all spaces.

"To have one of the most historic and longest running orchestras in the country be among the first organizations to locate in the historic Exchange Street block of buildings is an ideal fit," Moskowitz said in the release.

"This will actually be the BSO's return to Exchange Street, as the group started here in the late 1800s, performing in the ballroom at this very location,” he continued. “The fabric and history of this community is important to us as a company, and that's one of the main reasons we made this investment. We are happy to see that the Bangor Symphony Orchestra sees that historic value, while also seeing the benefits to being located within the activity center of Downtown Bangor."

“We’re really just excited for this partnership,” Hinrichs said during a recent tour of the building. “There’s so much potential here; we can’t wait to keep moving forward.”

While the Nichols Block is remarkably well-preserved, there are still improvements to be made. The BSO is raising funds for those improvements, as well as to purchase musical equipment that would enable the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestras to rehearse there. In addition, other announcements regarding grand opening events and programming for the year ahead will be forthcoming.

Immediate inquiries for rental or other information related to Bangor Arts Exchange may be addressed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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