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Theater organization makes leadership changes

New board chairman named as regional professional theater pursues capital campaign for new facility.

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  • | 4:54 a.m. May 29, 2019
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  • Charlotte–Lee–Collier
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NAPLES — Members of the leadership Gulfshore Playhouse, a professional theater organization in Naples, are changing roles as the theater embarks on ambitious growth plans.

For the theater’s next act, board chairman Bob Harden will transition to board member emeritus and will continue to serve in a voluntary capacity on both the development and the capital campaign committees. The board of directors has tapped Steve Akin, a board member and former president of Fidelity Personal Investments, as the new chairman, according to a statement. 

Harden joined the board in 2005 and helped lead the charge in raising funds to support the then-fledgling theater. He founded the annual Gulfshore Playhouse Charity Golf Tournament and, under his leadership, the annual operational budget has grown to more than $4 million. The Playhouse produces a six-show season and operates theater education programs. 

“Bob has been an invaluable partner over the years,” says Gulfshore Playhouse Founder and Producing Artistic Director Kristen Coury in the statement. “While his title will officially change, we know that Bob will remain an integral part of our cultural fabric.”

An active arts advocate, Akin served as chairman and remains a trustee emeritus of the Boston Lyric Opera, the largest and full-staged opera in New England. He also served on the board of trustees of the New England Conservatory and was president of the Kansas City Lyric Opera and Mansfield Ohio Symphony.

 In additional to operational leadership, Akin will oversee the theater’s the Next Stage Capital Campaign for the new Gulfshore Playhouse Theatre and Education Center, the release states. Plans include two new theaters and an education center on a three-acre site at the corner of First Avenue South and Goodlette-Frank Road. Plans also include a mainstage proscenium theater with sloped stadium seating for large-cast productions. It will also include a studio theater, a lobby and bar, gardens and an exclusive patron lounge. An education wing will feature a rehearsal room, classrooms and space for children’s theater events. 


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