It's the end of an era as the management team that saved area theaters Bardavon 1869 Opera House and Ulster Performing Arts Center, are ready for retirement. The pair helped save the legendary Hudson Valley venues during many difficult times, including COVID, which caused the theaters to close for over a year, and cost the organization $2 million in losses in 2020.

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The Bardavon is the oldest continuously operating theater in New York State. Designed by architect J.A. Wood, it was built in 1869 and served as a venue for various performing arts, community meetings, and celebrations until 1923; it largely resumed this heritage by becoming a general performing arts facility in 1976.

The Bardavon has been the home of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic for over 40 years.

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In 2006, The Bardavon purchased Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston, NY out of bankruptcy, and started booking shows there regularly, along with shows at Poughkeepsie's Bardavon.

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In an interview with John Barry at Times Union, Chris Silva spoke about the decision to retire and his long career as Bardavon Executive Director and estimates that he and Managing Director of Theatre Production Stephen LaMarca have staged roughly 2,500 events for more than 2.5 million audience members. The Bardavon has invested $22 million in renovations and upgrades at both venues over the past 30 years, according to Silva.

It Felt Like the Right Time

As for retiring, “We’ve been at this together for 30 years and it felt like the right time,” Silva, 73, told the Times Union.

“We’re in a good place. The theater is in a very good position, post-COVID. We feel like we’ve accomplished just about all we wanted to accomplish. And it would really be better to have some fresh energy here. It’s time."

Silva and LaMarca will work the last day in their current roles on Dec. 31 and will remain involved for at least a year afterward, programming acts remotely for both the Bardavon and Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston.

A search has been launched to fill both positions.

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