Under an agreement announced today, the Avalon Foundation plans to acquire the Avalon Theatre from the Town of Easton this spring. A public hearing to present the agreement and invite public comment will be held on April 6. Ownership of the Theatre enables the Avalon Foundation to further its role as the cultural center of the Eastern Shore, make needed investments in the building and ensure that Easton remains a vibrant arts community for future generations. The Town of Easton redeveloped the Avalon Theatre in the late 1980s as part of a public/private partnership. This agreement will end decades of ongoing Town of Easton costs associated with its ownership.

The transfer of the Avalon Theatre to the Avalon Foundation marks the end of an era. In the mid 1980’s, Easton’s then Mayor, George Murphy, and local businessmen, Will Howard and Dick Edgar, forged a public private partnership to redevelop the Avalon building. Mayor Murphy’s vision of a vibrant performing arts center acting as an economic and cultural anchor for Easton took many years, commitment by subsequent Mayors and Town Councils, enormous effort on the part of the Avalon Foundation and a community that consumes and financially supports diverse arts programming to come to fruition.

Easton Mayor Robert Willey put it this way, “The Avalon is a success story that everyone in Easton can be proud of. I feel confident that the Avalon Foundation will continue this success while the Town of Easton focuses on more traditional government functions.”

In addition to title transfer, the Town of Easton will make a one-time cash payment of $250,000 in lieu of making certain capital repairs before closing. The Avalon Foundation will seek other private and public funding in order to address additional maintenance issues as well as uture improvements to the building.

“The Avalon Foundation’s success would never have happened without the vision and continuous support of the Town of Easton,” said Avalon Executive Director, Al Bond. “We’re ready to take on ownership of the Theatre and thank the Town of Easton for its essential role. While the days of property tax payer support for the maintenance of the Avalon Theatre will end with the transfer of the deed, the Avalon Foundation hopes to continue its successful partnership with the Town of Easton into the future.”

The Avalon Foundation was formed in 1994 to operate the Avalon Theatre by its founding Executive Director, Ellen Vatne and her then husband John General. What started as sporadic programing continually grew, and with it the economic and cultural impact of the Foundation’s work. Last year the Avalon Foundation presented 160 performances in the Theatre and Stoltz Listening Room and hosted another 98 performances produced by 35 other organizations. In addition to the Avalon Theatre building the Avalon Foundation operates MCTV, Talbot County’s public access television station and many outdoor programs including Plein Air Easton, the Easton Farmers Market and the Arts in Easton banner program. It is the largest arts organization on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. In 2014 people benefitted from Avalon Foundation programming 158,000 times.

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