Mad Cow Theatre sued by city of Orlando for allegedly taking city equipment from leased theater space


Mad Cow Theatre's removal from their longtime space was always going to be ugly. We didn't realize it would get this nasty, though.

After a years-long fight between the city of Orlando and the theater that rented space from them ended in an eviction, Mad Cow's HQ was promised to Orlando Fringe as an incubator space for up-and-coming creatives. Now, the city is alleging that Mad Cow took tens of thousands of dollars of city-owned equipment out of the space on their way out the door. The city filed a lawsuit against Mad Cow on July 29 saying that the company lifted more than $30,000 in equipment.

The theater was required to leave behind the equipment in the terms of a settlement reached with the city. Orlando agreed to waive nearly $500,000 in delinquent fees for the theater to be left in operable condition.

Orlando Weekly spoke with staff involved in the process July 1, who relayed to us this statement from Fringe: "It was the City and Fringe's understanding that the equipment necessary to operate the 54 West theater space would be in the theater when Orlando Fringe took over. However, that was not the case."

The city lists everything from ticket scanners to sandbags in its list of missing equipment. Mad Cow leadership has yet to publicly respond to the lawsuit. Fringe executives this week told the Orlando Sentinel that a gutted theater would hinder their plans to open the incubator program by 2023.

"In discussions with the city from the beginning, we asked that Fringe enter into a fully functioning theater with working theatrical equipment,” Orlando Fringe director Alauna Friskics said to the Sentinel. “We have been complying with the city to determine which equipment is there and what is missing so that we can get the theater open as soon as possible."