PARIS — Celebration Barn Theater has announced that Amanda (Mandy) Huotari will be stepping down from her role as Executive Artistic Director. Huotari has led Celebration Barn, Maine’s international center for physical theater training, creation and performance, for the past 15 years. She’ll continue to serve through December of 2021.

“We are so grateful for Mandy’s remarkable leadership over these past 15 years. She has built on the history of Celebration Barn to create a strong, bright future as we look ahead to our 50th anniversary next year,” said board member Davis Robinson. He added, “Mandy is leaving the Barn in a great position for a new director to continue to grow the organization, locally and globally, for the next 50 years.”

Since Huotari stepped into the role of EAD, she has worked with the board of directors to fulfill the Barn’s mission to inspire creativity and community by harnessing the power of live performance and to “embrace an adventurous spirit while continually strengthening the health and sustainability of the organization,” she said in an April 22 letter to the Barn community.

“This year has been full of challenges the likes of which we’ve never seen, but Celebration Barn has remained strong and trailblazing under Mandy’s leadership,” said board member Tom Fogarty. The Barn’s new online theater trainings are making it possible for the organization to reach a growing global community. Celebration Barn is currently working with artists, both live and virtually, to innovate new ways of engaging audiences. Investments in capital improvements are also underway to secure the property for future generations. And the organization is preparing to announce on-site events for its upcoming season, including outdoor open-air shows.

Since Huotari stepped into the role of EAD at the end of 2006, Celebration Barn has flourished. Its faculty has expanded to include more of the world’s leading teaching artists (including Aitor Basauri, Dody DiSanto, and Jeff Wirth), and created greater access to teachers who have called the Barn home for many years (including Avner Eisenberg, Karen Montanaro, Robert Post, and Davis Robinson). Over the course of Huotari’s tenure, genre-defying performances that toured from New York to Honolulu, Bogota, and Montreal were developed at Celebration Barn Theater.

Locally, with Huotari at the helm, Celebration Barn produced large-scale innovative productions that took over the Barn’s 11-acre property and all of downtown Norway, Maine. The Barn also launched its Theater in Schools programming, bringing live performances to over 1,700 Oxford Hills elementary students and faculty annually.

Another standout accomplishment during Huotari’s time as EAD was the purchase and transformation of the Celebration Barn property in 2016. Solar-powered cabins were constructed for visiting artists, enabling the theater to be dedicated to creativity 24/7. A master facility plan envisions a future bathhouse, new commercial kitchen, and expanded studio space.

“With the spirit of the Barn so strong, and my growing desire to spend more time creating my own work, this is an ideal time for new leadership. This isn’t goodbye, it’s just the beginning of an exciting new chapter and I look forward to future opportunities to collaborate,” Huotari said in her letter.

In June, Celebration Barn will be commencing a search for Huotari’s replacement with the intention of having the new Executive Artistic Director on board by late summer so they can work alongside one another to maintain smooth operations. During this time, the Barn will also be expanding its online training opportunities, hosting on-site workshops and residencies to support artists, and preparing for its 50th Anniversary celebration in 2022.

For further information about Celebration Barn’s leadership transition, please subscribe to the Barn’s mailing list at www.CelebrationBarn.com or visit the Barn’s Facebook page. Celebration Barn Theater is located just off Route 117 at 190 Stock Farm Road in South Paris, Maine.

 

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