Belleville Church to Become Cultural Center

Tuesday March 19, 2024

Belleville Church

NEWBURYPORT—The evolution of the Belleville Congregational Church’s meeting house is about to take another major step forward to become a community arts center.
The Massachusetts Cultural Council has awarded The Belleville Arts Foundation (BAF) a $35,000 feasibility and technical assistance grant. It is a matching grant, and the non-profit foundation is asking its supporters and fans of the church and the Belleville Roots Concert series to donate to the transition of the building.
While remaining a church, the plan, supported by the grant and donations, is to enhance and convert the meetinghouse, built in 1847, into a community arts center. Creating a sense of community through the arts, BAF will support a variety of cultural endeavors including concerts, lectures, theatrical performances and workshops.
The goal is to make the building at 300 High St. financially independent and well-managed, while still maintaining the historical charm and beauty of its exterior. The meeting house is known for its outstanding acoustics and has the largest capacity for audiences in the greater Newburyport area.
Inside, the center would provide modern facilities and comfortable spaces for audiences and performers. The church houses a magnificent organ that is still used.
The Roots concert series, organized by music producer Ken Irwin and friends, has been a concert venue since 2005, bringing internationally acclaimed performers to Newburyport. Its concerts, including one by the Irish band Dervish last Saturday, have contributed more than $50,000 to the maintenance and repairs of the church.
The Newburyport Choral Society is a long-time renter of the meetinghouse and regularly performs there.
The BAF board includes Marcia Shoemaker, president; Philip Smith, vice president; Joseph Carper, treasurer; Lynn Varney, clerk; Lisë Reid, chair of the grant writing committee; Ken Irwin, Donna Wilson Irwin and Jim Samuelson.
To donate to the BAF, send a check to Belleville Arts Foundation, Inc., at 300 High Street, Newburyport, 01950. The BAF tax identification number is 88-4322621.
For more information, contact Marcia Shoemaker at or visit its website at

Support Local Businesses

Priced Right Junk Removal

Local Forecast

Subscribe To Receive Our Newspaper Every Wednesday Morning FREE

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and newspaper within your emails.

You have Successfully Subscribed!