Local News

SFSC names Cindy Garren director of Cultural Programs

AVON PARK - After 30 years of overseeing South Florida State College's various performing arts programs, Doug Andrews will be passing the baton to Cindy Garren, who will be the college's new director of Cultural Programs.

At its Wednesday meeting, The SFSC District Board of Trustees approved the selection of Garren, who will assume her full-time duties at SFSC April 28.

Andrews will retire from SFSC at the end of May.

Garren will manage all matters related to SFSC's Cultural Programs Department, including programming for all performing arts events, negotiating artists' contracts, identifying grant opportunities, securing sponsors for performing arts events, promoting performances, coordinating technical aspects of productions, developing budgets for Cultural Programs and the Museum of Florida Art and Culture (MOFAC), working with an advisory board, overseeing MOFAC activities, and supervising the scheduling of the Highlands Campus facilities.

Garren brings over 20 years of arts management experience to SFSC and is no stranger to Florida.

Earlier in her career, she served as executive director and assistant director with Broward College's Bailey Concert Hall in Fort Lauderdale, where she also taught theater appreciation and children's theater production.

She later served as executive director of the Gold Coast Jazz Society in Fort Lauderdale and, subsequently, became director of programming and audience development with the Scranton Cultural Center in Scranton, Pa.

More recently, Garren was interim executive director of Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, N.Y., and founding executive director of the Alice C. Wiltsie Performing Arts Center in Hazleton, Pa.

SFSC President Thomas C. Leitzel said, "We are delighted that Cindy Garren agreed to join the SFSC family. Her experience is superior and she will continue the commitment to excellence in our cultural programs that has been a hallmark for over 30 years through the outstanding leadership of Doug Andrews."

Garren recognizes that she has big shoes to fill by following Andrews as head of the Cultural Programs Department. But she remains undaunted.

"Doug's a musician, and he birthed the various performance series and created the Jazz Series," she said. "I've been successful stepping into organizations that lost longtime leaders, and I've been able to continue the respected traditions. I've kept the things that are working well, but I've been able to use that solid foundation to build something new.

"For instance, I followed a longtime executive director at the Troy Music Hall. It was a historic theater. What I learned from that community was how much people loved that building, but they didn't know much about it."

Garren created free backstage tours that took audience members into places of the theater they would otherwise never see. The fun and educational program/tours are still highly attended three years later.

Garren has worked with other organizations that are not colleges.

"Colleges present a subtle difference in mission - a commitment to educating and enriching the community" she said. "This appeals to me because I love to see that spark of enthusiasm or imagination that gets ignited in people when they learn about something new-perhaps a new artist or the history of a dance form. Something speaks to people through music, theater, and dance."

Garren noted Andrews' "excellent" reputation among the Florida presenters and said the recently remodeled venue is "just magnificent."

Andrews said it doesn't feel like 32 years have passed since he first arrived at the doorstep of South Florida Junior College as a music instructor.

"Nor does it feel like it has been 30 years of bringing performances to area residents," he said. "I feel fortunate to have worked in both capacities."

He is optimistic about the Cultural Programs Department's future, Andrews said. "I look forward to the next phase of my life and to the great work that Cindy will bring to this position."

"Doug's retirement is so well deserved," Leitzel said. "We'll honor him by continuing to offer quality programs through the visual and performing arts."

SFSC's Cultural Programs Department has provided quality entertainment to Florida's Heartland since 1984 and offers six performance series: Artist, Matinee, Jazz, Kaleidoscope, Summer, and Young People's Theatre. Performances are held on the Highlands Campus in the 1,460-seat SFSC Theatre for the Performing Arts and the 245-seat SFSC University Center Auditorium.