Rebecca Newton Retires from Carolina Theatre of Durham, Board of Trustees Outlines Plan for the Future

July 1, 2020 by admin

DURHAM, NC (July 1, 2020) — The Board of Trustees of Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc. named experienced nonprofit executive Bethann James as the Interim President & CEO of the city-owned venue, effective Monday, June 22. The nonprofit arts organization that manages the downtown Durham venue will continue its search for a permanent replacement for current President & CEO Rebecca Newton, who announced her intention to retire from her role in Fall 2019.

Newton joined the Carolina Theatre staff in October 2017. Under her leadership, the city-owned venue has increased overall attendance to the venue by expanding its program offerings in the Arts Discovery Educational Series (ADES), the Family Saturday Series (FSS), repertory and art house cinema, and commercial and artistic live events. Newton also worked with board member Emily Hill on the nonprofit organization’s recent strategic planning process and initiated a feasibility study, both of which will be used to guide the nonprofit toward its centennial in 2026.

Newton has worked with the Board of Trustees to prepare for the organization’s next chapter, and has been assisting in the on-boarding of James.

James, of Durham, brings 25 years of experience in the public, social and private sectors to her role. She has a certification in Non Profit Management from Duke University. She graduated from University of the District of Columbia School of Law (UDC Law) and received her undergraduate degree in Urban Studies and Criminal Justice from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. James serves as an affiliate contractor of the interim solutions division of consulting firm moss + ross. James will serve in a part-time capacity until a permanent CEO & President is hired, ideally before 2021.

“The Carolina Theatre has been in very good hands while Rebecca has been CEO, and it will continue to be in good hands during this transition time under Bethann’s leadership,” Board Chair Bill Brian said. “We are extremely fortunate to have an experienced leader of nonprofit organizations like Bethann to turn to during the period between the date of Rebecca’s retirement and the date on which our new CEO will start.”

James and Newton will work together to meet staff, both in-person and remotely, and review executive responsibilities through July 6. James is primarily tasked with leading the theatre through its COVID response, supporting an amazingly qualified staff and maintaining the high profile of the Carolina Theatre which has been temporarily closed due to the ongoing pandemic.

“I am grateful to Rebecca and the board for their confidence in me to lead through the transition,” James said. “The theatre’s operations and finances are in a great place to outlast these turbulent times, and I am excited about the new chapter the theatre is about to begin with a new CEO in 2021.”

In April, the Carolina Theatre’s board contracted Management Consultants for the Arts (MCA) to conduct a national search to find Newton’s successor at the Carolina. The board is currently accepting applications for the next President & CEO of the organization through the search firm’s website (, at the venue’s website ( and at other online job boards for the nonprofit, arts and entertainment industries.


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. is dedicated to driving the cultural, educational and economic vitality of the region.