LEWISTON — The directors of the nonprofit performing arts venue at the former St. Mary’s Church hope to work out a compromise Wednesday that will put an end to the controversy swirling around its rebranding efforts.

It appears the plan is to revert to the Franco Center name and adopt a new logo, but a decision has not yet been made.

“We are hopeful that changing back to the Franco Center name will ease many minds,” Penny Drumm, the center’s administrator, said in a press release Monday.

A few months ago, a divided board renamed the Franco Center as “Riverfront Performing Arts and Events, Founded by Franco-Americans” in a bid to unite the French Canadian immigrant heritage of the former church with development plans tied to the nearby Androscoggin River.

Board members and staff of the Franco Center give TF1 television reporters from France a tour of the Lewiston center in March 2022. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file

Its legal name has remained the Franco-American Heritage Center at St. Mary’s since its formation more than two decades ago.

Drumm said the center’s staff has “worked diligently on trying to find a solution that would work for both sides of our split board and come up with a simplified new design for the logo.”


The staff’s suggestion will be unveiled Wednesday, Drumm said, “once it gets majority board approval.”

“Board members and staff have listened to our community, the negative and the positive, with regards to the controversial addition of a name to the Franco Center,” said Elaine Roop, president of the board of what a press release called the Riverfront-Franco Center, which is yet another new name for the institution.

“Our community matters to us and we most sincerely appreciated your concerns and input,” Roop said in the prepared statement. “Now is the time for our board to decide, not based on winning or losing, but rather for the good of our Franco Center, our community and our patrons.”

Drumm said the nonprofit’s leaders have heard directly from both supporters and opponents of the name change.

“It really has become larger than life,” she said.

Drumm said the 46 Cedar St. center appreciates the support it receives from the community and hopes that critics and fans alike will continue to attend its events.

In a comment directed at the public, Drumm said that a subscription sign-up form to the center’s newsletter is at francocenter.org. “We can also be found on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.”

“Thank you for sharing your passion,” she added.

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