Garden Theatre leadership team acknowledges and apologizes for 'past harms' to local theater community

Keith Davenport, chief organizational officer, and Rob Anderson, producing creative director, issued the formal message on social media last week.

File photo by Kirk Marsh
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The Garden Theatre leadership team has issued an acknowledgement and apology for "the past harms that have been done to the Orlando theater community."

Keith Davenport, chief organizational officer, and Rob Anderson, producing creative director, issued the formal message on social media last week.

"This acknowledgment and apology is past due, and it is incumbent upon us to rectify this here and now," the two wrote on Facebook. "We understand that it will take time for members of our community to feel they can and want to be a part of the Garden (Theatre) and its offerings. We understand there will be those who will not venture through our doors again, and that is our loss."

As part of the acknowledgement, the two gave several updates on previous suggestions made regarding the theater.

"There has been a 60% turnover on the Board of Directors since August 2022," the two wrote. "There is new leadership on the board. Rich Taylor is as keen as we are to find a way to move forward with the community."

The turnover in highly visible roles at the Garden Theatre had some questioning the future direction for the Winter Garden entertainment company. Read the full story here.

However, since Davenport was named COO in June, his big plans for the Garden Theatre appear to have yielded drastic change and progress in the community. 

The theater officials also said the board and staff have completed Board Development Training, inclusive of DEI training, through the Edyth Bush Institute with Rollins College. 

"We understand that one session does not mean training and learning is over," the post reads. "We have in place ongoing DEI series seminars for both staff and board that tackles the many aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion so our entire organization can grow and learn as our world adjusts."

Davenport and Anderson said they both have sat down with Roberta Emerson, previous artistic directing consultant at the theater, for "a very open and supportive discussion about this topic." 

The pair said Emerson was instrumental in providing information and insight.

"The Garden Theatre proactively pays fees to the creatives and crew that work with us that are some of the highest in the area," the post continues. "We recognize the value of those who work at the Garden (Theater), and we support the work they do and the passion we, mutually, have for the art that is theater. 

"We are here to ensure there is a theatrical space for everyone," Davenport and Anderson said. "We sincerely hope this can be our new beginning."

To learn more about the Garden Theatre, as well as the venue's upcoming shows, productions and events, click here.



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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