Carolina Theatre Board Names Randy McKay President & CEO

December 29, 2020 by Joe Student

DURHAM, NC (December 29, 2020) — Today, the Board of Trustees of Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc. announced experienced arts executive Randy McKay as the new president & CEO of the nonprofit organization that manages the city-owned historic venue.

McKay brings a career filled with experience saving and stewarding historic theaters with him to Durham. He most recently served as the executive director for Jefferson Live, a nonprofit operator of the Cascade Theatre in Redding, Calif. and the Holly Theatre in Medford, Ore. He guided the Cascade through the difficult period after wildfires ravaged that venue’s home region in 2018 and led the Holly through its restoration into a community arts center. His experience in management, programming, and customer service helped lead those venues to significant growth in revenue, attendance, and customer satisfaction.

“I am thrilled to have an opportunity to lead the Carolina Theatre into the future, including its centennial celebration in 2026,” McKay said. “We all look forward to the day when the arts can safely emerge from this long intermission. I can’t wait to re-open these historic doors and welcome guests back to the heart of downtown Durham.”

Prior to his work with Jefferson Live, McKay led restoration projects at the Empress Theatre in Vallejo, Calif. and the California Theatre in San Jose. He also served as the vice-president of marketing and finance for Symphony Silicon Valley, where he developed new and diverse audiences and grew attendance, implemented important new digital marketing tactics. and founded a collaborative arts education program that introduced 100,000 students to the arts.

McKay serves as a national board member of the League of Historic American Theatres, and is a member of the International Association of Venue Managers and the Association of Performing Arts Professionals.

“Randy brings years of successful professional theatre management experience to the Carolina Theatre. This is exactly what we need at this time in the Theatre’s history,” Bill Brian, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said. ” We are really excited that Randy is joining the team!”

The selection of McKay comes after a national search led by the firm Management Consultants for the Arts. McKay will replace Carolina Theatre Interim President & CEO Bethann James. James took over for Rebecca Newton, who retired in July.

The Carolina Theatre Board of Trustees announced in November that it would temporarily close the venue to the public from January 1 through June 30, 2021, the remainder of its fiscal year, due to the ongoing pandemic.

McKay will assume responsibility for all financial, operational and programmatic activities at the Theatre as of Monday, January 11.


About Carolina Theatre:
Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization managing the city-owned Carolina Theatre at 309 W. Morgan Street, Durham, NC 27701. Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc.’s mission is to drive the cultural, educational and economic vitality of the region. To explore more, see