Orange County commissioners approve grant to Mad Cow Theatre


Orange County commissioners approved a $75,000 grant to Mad Cow Theatre after the debt-ridden company agreed to meet several conditions, including paying money it owes to artists, staff and technical support.

In October, the board had deferred the grant from the county's arts and cultural affairs advisory council after allegations from several artists on social media regarding the professional theater group's delinquent payments. Orlando city officials also confirmed that Mad Cow owes the city about $330,000 in fees and reimbursements related to its lease with the city for the space at 54 W. Church St.

In a memo to county commissioners from arts and cultural affairs administrator Terry Olson, Olson says the county arts council met with Mad Cow's board and staff to review their finances. Mad Cow agreed to meet conditions set forth by the council that include:

-  The President of Mad Cow will certify to the county that all fees, commissions, compensation and salary due to artists, staff and technical support is paid on or before Dec. 1

- Written statements from Mad Cow regarding plans for its budget, long-term debt and other intentions regarding its financial operations

- Copies of management letters and responses to these letters from the past three fiscal years in connection with Mad Cow's annual audit

- Evidence that Mad Cow has modified its internal operating procedures to remove any employee as a voting member of the theater group's board of directors.

On Nov. 28, Mad Cow President Brian McDowell sent a letter to Hal Kantor, chair of the county arts council certifying that all debts owed to artists and others had been paid.

"It was a worthwhile endeavor to go and look into this," Kantor tells commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. "Mad Cow stepped up to the plate and met the obligations."