The Carolina Theatre will celebrate its 90th year in the heart of downtown in 2016 with a year-long schedule of events, special programs and new partnerships.
The last remaining of Durham’s original downtown theaters, the Carolina Theatre opened on Feb. 2, 1926 as the Durham Auditorium. Nine decades later, the city-owned historic concert and performing arts venue has become a beloved community institution.
“The Carolina Theatre has been a lot of different things over the years and it’s had these various lives, but through all of them it’s persevered – even when the future of the building, and the city’s downtown, was in question,” president and CEO Bob Nocek said in a news release.
“You think about all of the other buildings that were here when we opened that aren’t here anymore. This one is around because it was – and is – important to people.”
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Theater officials have scheduled a slate of events to help celebrate the building’s nine decades of presenting arts and entertainment in the city, including:
▪ 90th Anniversary Celebration Concert featuring Kristin Chenoweth ( “Wicked,” “Glee”) – Jan. 30
▪ 90th Anniversary Party – Feb. 6
▪ Opera and Ballet Film Series broadcast from the Royal Opera House in London
▪ Four sessions with Triangle storytelling series The Monti
▪ Three live shows in conjunction with Durham’s Art of Cool Project
▪ Carolina Theatre ’26 Stout, a custom-brewed beer made by Durham’s Fullsteam Brewery with popcorn from the Carolina Theatre, chocolate and nutty malt
▪ A free 90th Anniversary Block Party in the fall
Additional events and partnerships will be announced in 2016.
“I’ve long felt that the real spark that ignited downtown Durham’s renaissance began when the dedicated volunteers and supporters saved this treasured building and created the non-profit institution that we now know as the Carolina Theatre of Durham, “ said Scott Harmon, chairman of the theater’s board and a partner in Durham’s Center Studio Architecture.
“It’s not just the contribution that the theater has made to arts and culture over these 90 years,” he said in the news release. “It’s the contribution to historic preservation, to civil rights, to place making, and to community engagement.”
In the black
The nonprofit Carolina Theatre of Durham Inc. runs the city-owned Carolina Theatre complex under a management agreement that runs through at least 2024.
In February it reported a surplus of $40,838, its second consecutive year in the black, according to audited financial statements. The last time the theater had back-to-back profitable years were fiscal years 2007 and 2008.
Overall revenue increased 17 percent in 2014, breaking the $4 million mark for the first time since the organization was founded in 1992. By comparison, the theater brought in just $2.4 million in 2010 when Nocek became president/CEO of the nonprofit.