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Largo Cultural Center's leader moving on

In five years at the helm of the Largo Cultural Center, Colin Bissett made his mark, expanding the center's offerings from dance recitals and choral groups to Broadway shows and bands popular with baby boomers.

"It certainly was a mighty challenge," said Bissett, 61.

But now Bissett said he's ready for something new. He has accepted a position as executive director of the Mahaffey Theater Foundation in St. Petersburg, where he is scheduled to start in early September. Friday was his last day with Largo.

Joan Byrne, the city's director of Recreation, Parks and Arts, said the city will begin looking for a replacement for Bissett, whose annual salary was about $73,500.

The venue's resident theater company, the Eight O'Clock Theatre, has remained a popular staple during Bissett's tenure.

But since he arrived, the center has also booked an eclectic mix, from the Baha Men — famous for Who Let the Dogs Out? — to the Orlando Opera.

It also has packed the house with acts like the Kingston Trio, the Little River Band and BJ Thomas.

And two years ago, the center kicked off its first Broadway series with productions like Forbidden Broadway: SVU, Urban Cowboy: The Musical and Say Goodnight Gracie.

Bissett began his theatrical career with a regular stint on England's version of Candid Camera. His career as an actor didn't go far, but he found a career in administration.

Before coming to Largo, Bissett was executive director of the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, N.C. Before that, he served as executive director of centers in Pennsylvania and England.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.

Largo Cultural Center's leader moving on 07/26/08 [Last modified: Saturday, July 26, 2008 11:05am]
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