Theatre Announces First Surplus Since 2008

The Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc. completed the 2012-13 fiscal year with a financial surplus of nearly $69,000, its first profitable year since 2008, according to audited financial statements presented to the Board of Trustees last week. 

The non-profit recorded a surplus of $68,730, its second-highest since 2002 and the fourth-best year in the organization’s 22-year history. The 2013 surplus marks a $266,000 improvement in annual performance from the prior year, and comes as the organization has grown by over $1 million in annual revenue in just the last two years, an increase of 41%.

 “We’ve been saying for three years that a major rebuilding of the organization was happening, and that takes time and money,” said Bob Nocek, President & CEO of the Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc. “The magnitude of the necessary changes didn’t come without a cost. But I couldn’t be more pleased that our efforts have resulted in such positive outcomes in such a short period of time, and that we’ve created a venue of national prominence.”

“I’m extremely proud of the work done by Bob Nocek and the staff of the Carolina Theatre,” said Tim Alwran, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “They have laid a solid foundation for success going forward.”

The Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that operates the City of Durham’s Carolina Theatre under a management agreement. The parties are currently working under a one-year extension while negotiating a long-term renewal. 

Nocek was named President & CEO in 2010, and in that time has grown total revenue by 41% from $2.4 million to over $3.5 million, through expansion of programming and increases in rental activity. By comparison, revenue had increased only 15% from 2005-2010.

In 2013 alone, the Carolina revenue increased by 22% over the prior year, to $3,526,209 against expenses of $3,457,479.  

Among recent highlights have been:

  • The Star Series – shows presented by the non-profit – have increased from approximately 25 performances to 60 in 2012-13. Overall, ticket sales for Carolina Theatre-presented live events have grown from a previous high of roughly $600,000 per year to more than $1.4 million in 2013.
  • Cash donations surpassed $300,000 for only the second time in the organization’s history.
  • The complex’s main theater, the historic Fletcher Hall, was used on 315 days in Fiscal 2013.
  • Net revenue from rental programs has increased by 35% over the past three years.
  • Concessions gross revenue exceeded $310,000 in 2013, up from $149,000 in 2009.
  • Average monthly film ticket sales are up more than 50% since reopening after renovations in 2011.
  • The Carolina Theatre ranked among the Top 100 venues worldwide for the first time, coming in 88th at mid-year and 98th at year-end in Pollstar magazine’s 2012 attendance rankings. The Carolina was the second-smallest theater in the rankings.

“We have made this organization profitable, and we did it while increasing ticket sales, concessions, and rental of the facility,” Nocek said. “We didn’t get there by postponing improvements or reducing the size of the staff or eliminating programs. In fact, it was just the opposite – we’ve added full-time positions and made many investments in long-neglected infrastructure. This organization had fallen behind in nearly every area, and we’ve been able to rectify many of those needs.”

The organization’s last prior profitable year was 2007-2008. The string of recent losses began in 2009 and totaled close to $70,000 before Bob Nocek became President & CEO in July 2010. 

The Carolina lost $224,000 in the 2011 Fiscal Year, as a result of programming losses and costs associated with rebuilding the organization. In 2011, the theater was closed for four months for City of Durham renovations, and lost $188,072. An analysis prepared by the theater’s accountant estimated the impact of the closure at $104,000. At the conclusion of the most recent fiscal year, the theater’s deficit stands at $266,135, which Nocek anticipates eliminating over the next 3-4 years.

“A number of stories have been written about our deficit, but they unfortunately lacked context and furthered a false narrative – that the Carolina Theatre was in some state of decline,” Nocek said. “This organization has grown consistently for three years in all program areas and weathered a four-month closure. At the same time, the country continues to rebound from the worst economic times we’ve seen in decades, not to mention numerous major competitors. What we’ve accomplished here, against all odds, makes me incredibly proud and I look forward to an even brighter future for the Carolina Theatre.” 

 

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