Gulfshore Playhouse Announces Board Chairman Transition

Gulfshore Playhouse Announces Board Chairman Transition

With deep appreciation for his years of leadership, Gulfshore Playhouse, Naples' premier professional regional theater, announced today that longtime Board Chairman Bob Harden will be transitioning to a role as Board Member Emeritus. He will continue to serve in a voluntary capacity on both the development committee and the Capital Campaign Committee for the Playhouse. The board of directors has elected current board member and former president of Fidelity Personal Investments, Steve Akin, to serve as chairman.

In 2005, Harden joined the board, helping to lead the charge in raising funds to support the then fledgling professional theater. He founded the annual Gulfshore Playhouse Charity Golf Tournament, which quickly became an annual event. For the fourteen years as Board Chair, Harden has provided leadership, guidance, stewardship and support for Gulfshore Playhouse, which has grown to an operational budget of over $4 million in just 15 years. He also played a central role in assisting with the fundraising necessary to enable the theater to grow. The Playhouse now produces a six-show season comprised of new works, acclaimed comedies, Tony Award-winning classics and edgy dramas starring Broadway actors; audience engagement programs, including more than 50 free talkback and pre-show discussions; and dynamic theater education programs, including in-school residencies, community partnerships and collaborations.

"Bob has been an invaluable partner over the years. I would like to thank him for his 14 years of service to Gulfshore Playhouse and his personal counsel," said Gulfshore Playhouse Founder and Producing Artistic Director, Kristen Coury. "While his title will officially change, we know that Bob will remain an integral part of our cultural fabric."

Leading the board of directors into the 2019-20 Season, Steve Akin's long-time support of Gulfshore Playhouse and current role as chair of its Next Stage Capital Campaign will further propel the organization into the future. An ardent arts advocate, Akin served as chair and remains a trustee emeritus of the Boston Lyric Opera, the largest and longest-operating 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.

"We truly appreciate Steve's experience, dedication, generosity and wisdom," Said Coury. "His leadership will result in significant and lasting value to the cultural life of Naples and will help bring our bold, new and exciting Theatre and Education Center to life."

In addition to providing leadership counsel for Gulfshore Playhouse's professional theater programs, development initiatives and outreach efforts, Akin will also oversee the success of the Next Stage Capital Campaign for the new Gulfshore Playhouse Theatre and Education Center. Anticipated plans for the new Gulfshore Playhouse include two new theaters and an education center on a three-acre parcel at the corner of First Avenue South and Goodlette-Frank Road, which will extend the core of downtown Naples to the east of Fifth Avenue. Plans include a mainstage proscenium theater with sloped stadium seating, which will be used for large-cast musicals, classics, and world premiere comedies and dramas. It will also include a separate studio theater, a grand 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. The complex will support the expansion of Gulfshore Playhouse's theatrical programming and its educational offerings, including education programs focused on pre-professional theater training in acting, voice and movement, and in-school and after-school education programs.

Gulfshore Playhouse is passionately committed to enriching the cultural landscape of the region by producing professional theater to the highest artistic standards and providing unique educational opportunities to diverse groups of people in a spirit of service, adventure and excitement. The Playhouse's work is inspired by a belief in the magic of theater to expand the imagination, challenge the senses, provoke discussion, and revitalize in audiences an understanding of their common humanity. This belief drives the care with which Gulfshore Playhouse treats its artists, audiences, students, staff, and members of the greater community.

For more information about Gulfshore Playhouse, visit or call 239-261-PLAY (7529).

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