Heather Martin, executive director of The Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor. Martin will step down at the end of April to finish her master's degree. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Criterion director to step down

BAR HARBOR — After nearly two years as executive director of The Criterion Theatre, Heather Martin will step down at the end of April to complete her master’s degree.

Martin, who joined the theater shortly after it reopened under its current nonprofit structure, is proud of the growth of the theater under her tenure.

“There were a lot of people who had some very real doubts about the viability of the theater, and I understood that,” said Martin.

“But what kept bubbling up through the concerns was hope! That’s where we put our energies, into the hope, and it worked! Ideas, volunteers, donations and memberships all started coming in when folks really felt that The Criterion was once again their theater. It has been tremendously gratifying to be a part of that.”

A steady schedule of movies and local and national performances of many kinds has helped the theater build a solid membership base and engage the local community on many levels.

“It’s really amazing to see how passionate the community is to have the theater back,” Martin said. “People literally stop me on the street to say how excited they are about what’s happening there. That’s meaningful.”

“I love the theater, I love the community – and the staff are some of the best and finest I’ve ever worked with. I love it, I do. It’s the perfect time to hand it off,” said Martin regarding the timing of her departure, “and maybe get a director with an actual theater background.” Though she didn’t have a professional background in theater, the College of the Atlantic alum’s focus on education and community organizing certainly helped her build support for the arts institution.

Martin, who has been working on her master’s degree in museum studies through Harvard, is leaving to focus on her internship and thesis. “I’ve been working on this crazy idea of creating small, neighborhood-based museums that function as multi-age, multidisciplinary learning centers. I actually started this work at COA and shelved it for a while. I am very excited to see it take shape.”

The 1932 Criterion Theatre is a nonprofit cinema, theater, multimedia art producer and venue committed to safeguarding this historic space for stories, storytellers and audiences. The Criterion has been a staple of the Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island arts community since its construction in 1932 and looks forward to a long future of welcoming theater goers. Visit www.criteriontheatre.org or call 288-0829.

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