Checking in on the Avalon with Al Bond and Jessica Bellis


The last time the Spy had a chat with the Avalon Foundation folks was approximately two years ago at a time of real celebration. After months of political debate, some of it being slightly harsh by Talbot County standards, and good old nail biting, the staff and volunteers accomplished their long-term goal of buying Easton’s major performance theater on Dover Street.

And while there was a perceptible sense of relief that this lengthy process had reached its end, the Avalon was still not out of the woods. Not only did the organization face $2 million in deferred maintenance for the building itself, last minute changes in the sales agreement had added almost another half million to their capital fund requirements. It was hard for anyone involved not to be intimidated by the need to raise a staggering amount of public and private support and very quickly.

Fast-forward to the end of 2017 and both Al Bond and Jessica Bellis, the management team at the Avalon Foundation, don’t hesitate in saying that the last two years has been the best on record for the Foundation and its newly acquired theatre and listening room.

Not only were the capital funds successfully raised, but both the primary stage and the Stolz Listening room are now averaging 150 performances a year as well as hosting 30 outside organizations with an additional 90 events. At the same time, the Foundation continued to break records for the Plein Art festival as well as maintaining its 4th of July celebration, sponsorship of Easton Farmers Market, and expansion of MCTV programming.

If there were any negative aspects of the last 24 months, it has been the mild frustration expressed by Al and Jessica that the vast majority of the building’s most significant improvements are invisible to Avalon patrons.  With such successful completion of such unsexy projects of repointing the brickwork, improving backstage equipment, replacing heating and air conditioning, hardly any of this is noticeable to the theatergoer.

The Spy caught up with Al and Jessica last week to talk about the last two years. We also discussed the remaining projects, many of which will be more obvious to its guests, like the renovation of its public bathrooms and new paint for the theater. They also hint at more exciting programs to come that may go beyond their primary physical location as well as having high confidence that the Mid-Shore region will continue to support live performance for many years to come.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Avalon Foundation please go here


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