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Durham City Council approved a new long-term contract renewal with Carolina Theatre of Durham Inc. tonight that paves the way for the nonprofit organization to continue operating the historic Carolina Theatre complex for up to 20 years.
The pact ensures the Carolina Theatre’s place in the ongoing renaissance of Downtown Durham and guarantees that a facility so important to the city’s past will have a participatory role in shaping its future.
“The city’s commitment is an overwhelming show of support for our company,” said Carolina Theatre President/CEO Bob Nocek. “It demonstrates that the city has complete faith in the path we are on and recognizes the success we’ve achieved so far.”
Under the new contract, Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc., the nonprofit operator of the city-owned complex, will continue to manage the facility for a 10-year term through June 30, 2024. The agreement includes two subsequent five-year renewal options. The new contract also provides the nonprofit with a yearly 2.5 to 3.5 percent increase or decrease in the subsidy, based on a combination of the organization’s performance and the city’s budget. The contract calls for a new set of performance measures, including a broad range of metrics related to both financial performance and community engagement.
According to the new agreement, the Carolina Theatre will retain 100 percent of all facility fees collected on ticket sales. The funds will provide additional operating revenue as well as provide for maintenance and improvements that the non-profit plans to address, including the installation of new seats in both Cinema 1 and Cinema 2 over the next 12 months, and the upgrade of Fletcher Hall’s star dressing rooms.
The organization has been on the upswing for the past four years, increasing revenue by more than $1.2 million since 2010. In 2013, the theatre ended the year with a profit of nearly $69,000, its first profitable year since 2008. Since Nocek became President/CEO in 2010, the Carolina Theatre’s total revenue has increased from $2.5 million to over $3.7 million, with major increases in ticket sales for live events and film.
The theater has been ranked among the top 100 theatres worldwide in trade magazine Pollstar for the past two years, despite being one of the smallest venues on the list. Nocek was nominated for a Venues Today Hall of Headlines award for his efforts, and he will present a session on the theater’s revitalization at the League of Historic American Theatres Conference in New York in July.
“When I moved to Durham, there was a sense that the Carolina Theatre’s time had passed; that we may be incapable of competing in a new Durham,” Nocek said. “I have believed from day one that what we’ve accomplished was possible, and I’m thrilled to continue serving the city and the community and look forward to our future together”