Former Ohio State employee and alumnus Tim Valentine was welcomed back to Columbus’ theater community on Jan. 12 as the Short North Stage’s first executive director. Credit: Courtesy of Tim Valentine

After pursuing his passion around the country, Tim Valentine has made his way back to Columbus, where he began working in theater more than 10 years ago.

The former Ohio State employee and alumnus was welcomed back to Columbus’ theater community on Jan. 12, after becoming the first executive director for the Short North Stage. The new role is close to home for Valentine, who jumped into community theater immediately after enrolling in Ohio State’s higher education and student affairs graduate program in 2006.

“There’s a lot of theaters in Columbus,” he said. “But it ends up being a small community of people and I fell in love with them.”                                                                   

Valentine said he also enjoys managing student experience. As a graduate student, Valentine held multiple internships involving residential services and involvement programs. After graduation, he was hired as Ohio State’s Arts Scholars program coordinator, a position that he said combined two of his primary interests.

“I kind of always wanted to combine higher education, working with human development, or helping people with their lives; I wanted to combine that with the arts,” he said.

While working with Ohio State’s Art Scholars, Valentine helped found a community theater program, Imagine Productions. In addition, he joined Short North Stage –– for the first time –– as musical director. He said the three jobs intertwined in a way that allowed him to help students engage in Columbus’ art community.

In moving on to be the alumni program manager at Ohio State, Valentine was able to keep his positions at both theater companies. But despite loving what he was doing, five years of busy life in work, theater and music eventually burned him out, he said.

In 2015, Valentine took a job in Los Angeles, but after seven months, moved on to New York City where he became New York University’s assistant director of alumni programs.

“I got a two-year break to think about what my strengths are, but also what my passion is,” Valentine said. “Those whole two years I missed theater so much.”

So when Rick Gore and Peter Yokel, the founders of Short North Stage, reached out to Valentine about a new position as executive director, he accepted. Their shared passion for theater, Valentine said, brought him back to Columbus.

“We all had that commitment to producing really good art and really good theater,” he said. “To establish a professional theater in Columbus, that is paying people living wage, that is doing such great work for the community.”

Now, Valentine said he is happy to reconnect with Columbus’ theater community, art departments and people he had come to know well. One of those people is Edward Carignan, artistic director at Short North Stage, who worked at the theater company while Valentine was music director.

“When I first met him, not only was he an incredibly accomplished music director and organized,” Carignan said. “But he was like the welcome wagon. Tim is so well connected in this community and I can’t think of a better person to reach out as we start to grow because not only does he have experience in doing that stuff, but he has experience from OSU, right here in Columbus.”

Sherée Greco, production manager for the Department of Theatre and one of Valentine’s former colleagues, said she is looking forward to working with him on creating opportunities for student performers, designers and crew members.

“I’m super thrilled,” she said. “He’s super smart and talented and I think he’s going to make a great addition to Short North Stage.”

Valentine said his future plans include building-renovation campaigns, setting priorities for the theater company and applying for the Arts and Administration doctoral program at Ohio State next year. But for now, he is focused on the upcoming production of “The Performers” at Short North Stage, which is set to debut Feb. 8.