It’s all about the arts. But it’s also all about the money.

If money from ticket sales was enough to pay expenses, it would seem that the two staff people at the Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath would have little to do between performances.

As with most nonprofit arts organizations, ticket sales usually cover only 40% of the revenue needed. To fill that gap, Executive Director Lauren O’Reilly and Executive Assistant Sara Moore have combined their managerial and creative skills to propel the 46-year-old organization into the most widely recognized arts and performance center in Midcoast Maine.

A behind-the-scenes look at what goes on at the 1847 Gothic revival-style former church building reveals a hustle-and-bustle atmosphere directed at ensuring that each show goes off without a hitch. Planning for performances begins as much as a year in advance, especially for groups that tour nationally. It may take weeks to work out contracts with agents to make sure the agreements are financially beneficial to both performers and the Chocolate Church.

Sponsors play a crucial role in the financial stability of the organization. Sponsorships not only bring in significant revenue, they offer public awareness and recognition to businesses who want to support the arts.

This year, there are four season sponsors: Bath Savings and Judy Metcalf Law both contribute $5,000, while Cellardoor Winery and Jorgensen’s Landscaping are in-kind contributors. All are recognized throughout the 10-month season with a full-page ad in the “Ovations” program, a pre-performance media show, social media and on the website. Show sponsorships are available for $1,000 and co-sponsorships for $500.


Hampton Inn Bath, The Residence Inn by Marriott Bath and J.R. Maxwell in Bath are hospitality sponsors. Advertising space in “Ovations” is another revenue source ranging in price from $450 for a full-page ad, $350 for a half-page and $225 for a quarter-page.

Donors are always welcome to support the Chocolate Church in whatever way they choose and may be recognized publicly or remain anonymous.

May is membership month, so next week, the welcome mat goes out to invite more fans on board. Ranging from a base of $50 a year to $500, each of the five levels of membership offer different benefits.

Give the Chocolate Church a call at 442-8455 if you are interested in a membership or sponsorship; stop by the office Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; or log on to website at

Coming up:

• Friday, May 5 – Eileen Ivers
• Thursdays, May 4, 11, 18 and 25 – Kindkids Music Classes
• Friday, May 13 – YellowHouse Blues Band
• Friday, May 19 – 12/0C Band

Paula McKenney is a volunteer at the Chocolate Church Arts Center and a retired newspaper editor.

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