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Former Old Globe managing director Doug Evans, who stirred controversy here when he touted popular drama over the traditional Shakespearean fare expected by local audiences, is causing consternation in his hometown of Hartford, Connecticut. Under Evans, San Diego's Globe stripped the gift shop and hired a former marketing executive from Walt Disney Company, whose "Experience the Magic" ticket-sales campaign was widely regarded as a flop. Also during his reign, the theater complex was attacked for conducting a secret $50 million fundraising effort during 2001 to boost its endowment. Part of that effort resulted in the Old Globe being renamed "Globe Theatres." That caused some disgruntled patrons to allege that rich donors were trying to buy control of the dramatic content of plays seen here. Evans was particularly close to Harvey White, Globe-board chairman and wealthy CEO of Leap Wireless, a Qualcomm spin-off and onetime stock-market darling that later came crashing back to earth during the dot-com bust. Now Evans, who departed in February of last year to become Connecticut's state arts commissioner under his friend Governor John Rowland, is facing scrutiny for his ties to TBI construction, a firm run by the Tomasso brothers of New Britain. Evans, who received $200,000 a year, plus a $34,500 annual expense account at the Globe, is now paid only $86,990 in his state job, according to the Hartford Courant. But it turns out that Evans has been moonlighting in both positions. Shortly after he arrived in San Diego, the paper says, he began getting $5000 a month from the Tomassos, who have a contract to manage the $120 million restoration of the Palace Theatre complex in Waterbury. Evans only quit receiving the stipend earlier this month, after Rowland's former deputy chief of staff pleaded guilty in federal court to accepting cash and gold bullion for steering millions of dollars in state work to Tomasso companies. It's also been revealed that Rowland himself got heavily discounted vacations at various Tomasso properties. Federal investigators are said to be looking into a raft of other questionable Tomasso construction deals. A company spokesman told the paper that Evans was retained because "We wanted to go with a leader in the industry," adding that Evans got a total of $180,000 for his consulting work. Evans maintains that his connection to the Tomasso brothers did not represent a conflict of interest because the Palace Theatre would not be eligible to receive state arts money until two years after it opens in the fall of 2004. He told the paper that he disclosed the payments to the governor and got an okay. He added that the Tomasso firm was his only "paid client" in Connecticut but that he sometimes conducts workshops for out-of-state arts groups.

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