$2-Million Gift to Support Costume Shop in Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts

Announcements2 MIN READ

The gift was made possible through the generosity of a loyal Colby alum who was also a longtime resident of Waterville.

Photography by Jasper Lowe
December 16, 2021

Colby is pleased to announce that it has received a generous $2-million gift in support of the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, on track to be the most advanced and innovative arts facility in the region. 

The anonymous gift will name two key backstage spaces in the Gordon Center: the costume shop and the dressing rooms. The gift was made possible through the generosity of a loyal Colby alumna and longtime resident of Waterville.

“The arts are an integral part of the Colby and Waterville experience, and this gift points to the deep connection between both communities,” said Matt Proto, vice president and chief institutional advancement officer. “The Gordon Center will enhance our ability to recruit talented artists, faculty, performers, students, and staff, and we are delighted that this anonymous donor chose to support our ongoing commitment to the arts.”

The 1,334-square-foot costume shop in the Gordon Center will include four distinct areas: the costume shop itself, with ample room for sewing machines and cutting tables; a laundry and dye room, complete with a spray booth, an industrial-size dye vat, and essentials like a washer, dryer, and stove; a small crafts room for specialized work on items such as wigs and jewelry as well as a 3D printer and a laser cutter for more sophisticated, computer-run work; and an office for the costume shop manager.

“Another way of looking at these rooms is that they’re all labs,” said Jim Thurston, associate professor of theater and dance. “They’re all labs where students are going to be involved in all kinds of simple and sophisticated projects. So they’re definitely constructed and thought of with that in mind.” 

Guest artists and costume designers will also benefit from the new space, Thurston said. “This will be a beautiful space for hosting professionals to come in and do work because it will be well-resourced, both in the costume collection itself and in the facility to make or alter things.”

The gift also includes the donor’s extensive wardrobe of designer fashion items spanning the 1940s, post-World War II era, and up through the modern day. The collection, donated to the Performance, Theater, and Dance Department, includes vintage dresses, suits, coats, purses, gloves, and shoes.

Slated to open in the fall of 2023, the Gordon Center, named in honor of Trustee Michael Gordon ’66, is the largest academic building project in the College’s history. The 74,000-square-foot center will be the new home for Colby’s Departments of Music, of Cinema Studies, and of Performance, Theater, and Dance. Designed for innovative teaching, performing, working, and creating, the center will foster creativity and collaboration among students and faculty across the disciplines and will contribute to a growing robust arts ecosystem in central Maine.