Prescott Park Arts Festival concludes its Capital Campaign

Pictured above (Left to Right): Festival President Bill Duncan, Festival Vice President Claudette Barker, Campaign leaders Steve Marchand, Sean Mahoney, Jamey French,
City Manager John Bohenko and  Executive Director Ben Anderson 
Photo Credit: Rick Dumont Images


PORTSMOUTH, NH - Three years ago, the Prescott Park Arts Festival embarked on a mission to make substantial and long overdue upgrades. Fast forward to the conclusion of their successful 40th anniversary season and you will find a beautiful new Pavilion featuring a pristine commercial kitchen, improved public restrooms, a new lighting and information building, professional quality stage lighting,  in addition to upgraded electrics throughout the park.
“Support for the festival inaugural campaign effort was overwhelmingly positive. The upgrades we needed to make had been built up over the years and were impacting the quality of performances and overall experience,” said Executive Director Ben Anderson. “Before upgrading the electrical service, we were losing power mid-performance. And because of the long bathroom lines, we used to experience a 40 minute intermission time which made for a late night for kids and families.”
In order to launch the first capital campaign in 40 years, a volunteer committee of community leaders was formed spearheaded by co-chairs Sean Mahoney and Steve Marchand, as well as Jamey French, Everett Eaton, Eric Gregg, Chet Homer, Jim Jalbert, Kathy Williams Kane, Susan Labrie, Diane Devine Mizusawa and Dan Plummer.
Through a collaborative effort between city officials and the festival, a private-public partnership was formed to aid the efforts of the new pavilions construction that included new restroom facilities for the park. From start to finish, the city contributed $200,000 to the more than three quarters of a million dollar project.
In addition to the city’s aid, the Festival was awarded $250,000 in tax credits from the Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA). Receiving strong support from community business leaders like Bauer, Federal Savings Bank, and Secure Planning, the Festival sold out of tax credits in less than 3 months – which laid important groundwork for the success of the campaign.
The remainder of the $1.2 million dollar campaign was funded through the generosity of nearly 1,000 donations including individual leadership gifts from the Thomas W. Haas Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation, the Montrone Family Charitable Fund, Dan and Renee Plummer, Sean and Kirsten Mahoney, Jameson and Priscilla French, Martha Fuller Clark, Paul Holloway, and countless others.
The shining jewel of this effort is the updated Pavilion building. No longer restricted to pre-packaged snacks, this new facility allowed the Festival to expand the menu to include a healthier and more diverse range of lunch and dinner options, all cooked to order, as well as establish various partnerships with area businesses.
The new Pavilion building also houses environmentally friendly and expanded public restrooms. This upgrade brings an end to long lines and over-extended intermissions, as well as offering accessible and family-friendly facilities, as well as a uni-sex unit.
The upgraded lighting system brings the festivals entertainment to an entirely new level and holds steady as Seacoast’s favorite tradition. Rather than providing a bland wash on the stage, the new LED lighting allows for greater expression through light design. Upgrading from basic PAR cans, an outdated and simple lamp design, to ellipsoidal and LED lighting allows for greater and more diverse color and area lighting to enhance the performances. This is a key aspect to providing an authentic and professional performance. These lighting upgrades are not only of a higher caliber professionally, but a more sustainable option drawing less power with an LED set up. Thus far the upgrades have offered a hands down more dramatic and professional end result.
Lastly, the Festival was able to develop an entirely new website in collaboration with Genius Switch Studios of Dover, NH. The newly designed site is leagues ahead of its predecessor offering users easier navigation, while accommodating a higher volume of online requests and transactions. Visitors can now purchase memberships, reserve tables or blankets, make a donation and even order a pizza to enjoy during a show.  All in all, the site designs allow the Festival to be even more accessible and convenient for all to enjoy.
Prescott Park Arts Festival has inspired and reached more than three million people with over 10,000 productions and presentations since starting in 1974. “In forty years, the festival had never before embarked on a capital campaign,” said Anderson, “To have been able to accomplish that is both exciting and extremely important for this community asset.”
“We look forward to celebrating and enjoying these improvements,” concluded Anderson, “while continuing to make investments back into the park for everyone to enjoy each and every season.”
Prescott Park Arts Festival, a non-profit organization, is the Seacoast’s premier outdoor performing arts venue, offering a uniquely accessible experience of high quality live theater and music – with no fixed admissions fees -- in an idyllic natural setting. For many residents, the festival provides a first experience with live performances, professional performance opportunities for aspiring and seasoned actors, as well as more than twelve community groups.
Established in 1974, this community arts organization has reached more than 3 million people through more than 10,000 events. This past season marked the 40th anniversary of the festival and featured the well-attended Shrek the Musical, presented by C&J Lines, as its signature musical production on the Wilcox Industries Main Stage. In addition, a mix of local, national and international artists graced the stage as part of the River House Restaurant Concert Series. The Monday night film series, Shakespeare, food festivals and much,    more.
To learn more about the festivals employment opportunities, visit the festival website at .