Debra Barnum (1951-2016)

St. Petersburg, Florida

Debra Barnum held a B.A. from Adelphi University and an M.A. in directing from Roosevelt University. She worked as a theatre educator and arts advocate in Florida from 1985 to 2009, developing a top-notch theatre program at Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg. She was a member of Florida State Thespians, Florida Theatre Conference, Florida Association for Theatre Education, Arts for a Complete Education, and the Southeastern Theatre Conference.

From 1988 to 1995, she served as the Florida Thespians chapter director. She organized a working board, revamped the state handbook, moved the state’s Thespian Festival to a professional theatre space in downtown Tampa, more than tripled attendance, and expanded the festival to three full days of student theatre events, including professional workshops and performances. Her leadership also shored up cash awards in technical theatre, college scholarship auditions, and valuable partnerships with Music Theatre International, Manhattan Tour & Travel, and Dramatists Play Service, among others.

At her own school she developed a career academy called Artech, directed mainstage productions at the state festival and one-act productions for the fringe festivals in Edinburgh and New York City. She prepared students for competition and auditions, and organized a district performance. As a board member of ACE, FATE, and FTC, she worked on developing and revising the Florida state and theatre education standards and the state assessment test.

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