PBSC: Furlough of Woodham only one of six

PBSC’s hand forced by COVID-19 restrictions

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MOORE HAVEN — Queried Wednesday, Nov. 11, about why Leigh Woodham, theater director at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center, apparently has been furloughed, Palm Beach State College officials responded to reassure communities PBSC’s arts centers serve that they hope their half-dozen furloughs across three campuses will be only temporary.

Many questions had been raised since this came to light earlier in the week.

The president of the Belle Glade Chamber of Commerce board, Terri A. Calsetta, had sent a letter Nov. 5 to Palm Beach State College President Dr. Ava Parker, pleading that PBSC reconsiders the move, which had apparently not been previously announced.

The director, Leigh Woodham, is by all accounts a valued member of the Glades arts community.

College’s response brief
In an email dated Nov. 11, PBSC spokesman Diego Meeroff, director of college relations and marketing, responded to the question of why Woodham was being furloughed, but he noted that Dr. Parker had not even received Calsetta’s letter yet, as of Wednesday afternoon. He consulted with Parker after seeing the article and wrote in an email:

“Palm Beach State College is committed to continuing to operate our Cultural Arts Centers on all three of our campuses. In fact, all of our theatres are currently open and preparing for upcoming seasons. We recognize the unique importance that the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center plays in the Glades community as a gathering place to experience live performances and, oftentimes, the first exposure to the arts for our school children.

“In facing these uncertain times, the college made the very difficult decision to furlough individuals whose job responsibilities did not translate to a remote work environment; this includes six full-time positions across all three PBSC theatres.”

Theatres still plan programs
Continued Meeroff’s statement: “We currently have a planned slate of spring season offerings from our theatres and we hope that our community can continue to support these endeavors through the pandemic. I will provide you more information on those offerings in a separate release as we have already reached out to our patrons and would love to connect with other members of the community.

“As soon as conditions allow, the college is prepared to bring back furloughed employees to work.”

Calsetta, chamber board president, had written: “I am writing ... to express my distress and great concern upon hearing that Leigh Woodham is being furloughed. ...”

“Leigh is so much more than the theater director. She is a beloved member of this community who has been dedicated to PBSC and the Dolly Hand for more years than I can count. Losing her will adversely affect all of us.”

Some members of the Lake Okeechobee Regional Economic (LORE) Alliance of Palm Beach County’s executive committee remarked on this development at their meeting the afternoon of Nov. 10. Look for more coverage on lakeokeechobeenews.com and southcentralfloridalife.com.

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