2017-03-07 / Front Page

A new direction for Nasson Community Center, Little Theatre

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Senior Staff Writer

SPRINGVALE — There's new management at Nasson Community Center in Springvale with high hopes for its potential.

“My main focus is to make this a second home for the community,” said Executive Director Lucas Lanigan.

Lanigan was appointed to the part-time post by NCC’s board of directors  earlier this year. Longtime Nasson Youth Theatre principal Carrie Jo Westenhouser, who will continue in that role, has also been named manager of  NCC’s Little Theatre.

Lanigan, a Sanford city councilor who owns Event Lighting Concepts, a DJ company, and is the fellow who lit up the falls at Gateway Park, said he lives around the corner from the community center and is happy to be involved with NCC — where he sees opportunities for existing programs to expand and new ones to flourish.

Lanigan and Westenhouser envision expanded community programs, dinner theater opportunities,  renting space for meetings, wedding receptions, parties and more — including such events as showing video games on the big screen  in the Little Theatre.

“Between sports and arts we can provide a lot of different options,” said Westenhouser.

‘We’ll promote a center where sports and arts collide” said Lanigan.

He said he’ll be looking for corporate sponsors for naming rights to the gym, in an effort to offset the cost to the nonprofit, youth sports organizations that use the facility. 

The community center hosts a number of its own programs and offers space to other organizations, like Sanford Springvale Youth Athletic Association, some Sanford Parks and Recreation programs, the Academy of Basketball and more.

And new WiFi and routers throughout the building will make it easier to use the internet to market NCC as a meeting space. 

“We’re very excited about (the new direction),” said David Parent of the NCC board of directors.

“Both Luke and Carrie  have big ideas for both sides of that center,” he said. “NCC is empty a lot, and it's a wonderful facility.” 

Westenhouser is talking with other theater companies, like The Good Theater in Portland ,with a view to forming a partnership, while Lanigan’s prior event promotion experience is seen as a boon to the center.

Westenhouser has a strong arts and music background. In addition to having been a director and artistic director for theater productions, other experience includes catering, and working with people with special needs. Like Lanigan, Westenhouser is a small business owner — she runs a catering business when not at the theater.

NCC was built in 1959 as the Nasson College Student Activity Center. Locked up and empty for 20 years after the college closed in the 1980s,  there was a community effort to restore the old gym and it was re-opened to the public — after much refurbishment — in the mid 2000s. The attached Little Theatre was also brought back to life and opened a few years later.

Long-time former Executive Director Bob Jones resigned after seven years in his volunteer role, due to personal and professional commitments. Jones, a Nasson College graduate, refused to accept pay for his work. 

“He is credited with turning around the Nasson Community Center when its liabilities were far exceeding revenues,” according to a news release.

“NCC started off with a bang and went to the red fairly quickly,” said Parent. “(Bob) Jones made it solvent and  Luke and Carrie will bring it to the next level.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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