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Theatre promotes two officials, including one to COO

Gulfshore Playhouse also nears a significant fundraising milestone for its redevelopment project.

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  • | 8:21 a.m. July 20, 2021
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NAPLES — Gulfshore Playhouse, currently undergoing a transformative $60 million renovation, recently promoted a pair of managers to senior-level executive roles. Joel Markus has been named COO and managing director, while Sarah Owen has been promoted to director of development. 

“These promotions are reflective of Joel and Sarah’s tireless efforts during these last 15 months to steward donors and patrons smoothly through the challenges of the last year and ensure the most effective operational efforts for the production and creative teams,” Gulfshore Playhouse CEO and producing artistic director Kristen Coury says in a statement. “We’re so grateful for all of their hard work, and we look forward to seeing the energy and innovative thinking they will continue to bring to these new roles as we continue to grow as the region’s leading professional theater.”

Courtesy. Joel Markus has been in the professional theatre business for 25 years.
Courtesy. Joel Markus has been in the professional theatre business for 25 years.

Markus will continue to oversee the theater’s day-to-day business affairs and work to cooperatively set financial and operational goals for the theater, strengthen its financial footing through efficient use of resources and implement strategic plans to ensure a sustainable and fiscally responsible future. Originally from Miami, he came to Gulfshore Playhouse from the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, the release states, where he was the production manager at America’s oldest theater. He’s been in the professional theatre business for 25 years, playing integral roles in the production of hundreds of plays at such venues as the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Weston Playhouse, American Players Theatre and North Shore Music Theatre.

“Joel’s unwavering negotiations on behalf of the theater helped secure approval from the Actors’ Equity Association to allow Gulfshore Playhouse to produce two live shows this past season,” Coury says. “Gulfshore Playhouse is one of less than 20 theaters that received approval from the AEA to produce during the pandemic, and the only one to do so indoors. Joel played a critical role in ensuring our success.”

Owen, meanwhile, previously served as annual giving and events manager for Gulfshore Playhouse, where she planned the theater’s many events and focused on raising funds for the Annual Fund for Artistic Excellence, which enables Gulfshore Playhouse to commission new works, create educational opportunities and continue offering professional productions, the release states. Before Gulfshore Playhouse, she worked for JDRF, where she received the National Mission Award for raising $1 million at the organization’s 2013 gala and golf tournament, and Susan G. Komen, where she helped grow the organization’s granting by 72% in one year. “Sarah’s promotion comes on the heels of her admirable work these last two years, especially during the pandemic,” Chief Advancement Officer Kimberly Dye says in the release.

The new campus for the Gulfshore Playhouse will be on the corner of 1st Avenue South and Goodlette-Frank Road, part of a larger plan for the city to redevelop the East of 41 downtown area. The organization, according to officials, has raised more than $54 million of the $60 million needed for the new theater and education center.




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