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Orange seeks grants to make Town Hall entertainment venue

ORANGE — Developing Orange as a cultural center that attracts big-name music and theater acts has long been a dream of many residents and officials. And while that dream may seem out of reach for a small town that has struggled in recent years to pay its own bills, making the most of limited resources seems to be what Orange does best.

With some seed money, a couple of state and federal grant opportunities, and a bit of luck, the town may soon be on track to realizing its vision as a cultural center in the region.

With some research, officials found two different grants that will help them renovate Town Hall Auditorium. If they get both awards, Orange will have $24,000 to engineer and install a sound system sophisticated enough to support regional and national acts.

Community Development and Planning Director Kevin Kennedy said Orange is using $6,000 as seed money for the project. The money was raised by residents through fundraising events and performances.

Kennedy submitted an application last month to the Massachusetts Cultural Council for $12,000.

Kennedy said that if the town is awarded the MCC grant, he will then make an application to the USDA for $6,000.

Kennedy said he will know by July whether or not the town is awarded the MCC grant. As that grant provides half the money for the project, if it’s not awarded to Orange, “it’ll be a no-go for the project.”

If both grants are awarded, the town will go out to bid and select an engineering firm to conduct a full analysis of acoustics in the auditorium.

Kennedy said officials will need to make a decision about how complicated a sound system they want to install.

Kennedy said these decisions will help officials define “how far government should go in providing entertainment in the auditorium.”

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