BAR HARBOR — It’s been a year of new beginnings for Taylor Valarik, a 2007 Mount Desert Island High School graduate and the new managing director of the 1932 Criterion Theatre.
He began work May 14, arriving after an epic road trip involving him, his wife, their 3-year old son and 4-month old daughter, his parents, a rented RV and a moving truck in the middle of a pandemic.
“It was like an episode of a TV show,” he said.
They had been living in Nashville, where Valarik has worked in music and video production, live events, design and marketing.
They had been eyeing a move to Maine when he learned that the nonprofit Criterion was looking for its next staff leader. Amy Roeder, the most recent executive director, resigned late last year.
Valarik met with the board search team, and all felt his skills would be a good match for the nonprofit. He and Production/House Manager Chuck Colbert are the two current staff members.
“It’s nice to have two of us who can take care of production for a live show,” Valarik said. “I’ve done lighting, front of house, audio, video — we can just knock stuff out together.”
Movie theaters are part of Phase 3 in the state reopening plan and are allowed to open July 1. The staff and board discussed reopening scenarios and decided to hold off for now, he said.
“There’s more and more cases (of the virus) coming to more and more states,” he said. “We just don’t want to jump the gun and be the cause of someone getting sick.” In the coming weeks and months, there’s likely to be “more information, guidance, testing, resources to feel safe.”
But that doesn’t mean nothing is happening in the historic Cottage Street building. Far from it.
A Criterion podcast, “The view from ’32,” (as in 1932 Criterion) is in the works. Guests, to include local artists, musicians and other personalities, will “talk about their process, what their story is, how they’re managing to create during this time,” Valarik said.
“We’re also going to be starting a series of livestream nights” with local and Maine-based performers, full productions with lights and all, but intended for an audience who’s staying home.
“We have this beautiful space and have these amazing artists that are itching to get out and do something,” he said. The goal is “for something to be coming out of the Criterion and [being] there for the community while keeping everybody safe.”
Individual and business memberships and other donations continue to be critical to keeping the nonprofit venue afloat, and Valarik said he looks forward to welcoming interns, volunteers and others to join in.
They’re also looking ahead to when movies and in-person live events can resume. For now, the David Crosby performance planned for this summer has been rescheduled to June 12, 2021.
“Everyone is itching to play in front of humans,” he said.