Program Report: Dan Berman – Carolina Theatre

My wife and I have been volunteers at the Carolina Theatre for the past 8 years, as part of a group of over 300 Theatre volunteers.  We have come to love the Carolina as do the other volunteers.  As we worked shows, we became aware of the growing difficulties at the Theatre.  We heard good things about Dan Berman when he became the volunteer CEO in January, 2016, and his speech confirmed the faith many placed in him to put the Theatre on a more solid financial footing.

Rotarian Treat Harvey, Director of Development at the Carolina, introduced Dan Berman, her boss. He was the founder of MainQuad Group, that acquired and operated radio stations in NC and VA.   Treat said “ As a volunteer, every day for 14 and 1/2 months, he has come in to the Theatre as if he were a paid employee, working long hours.    I admire what he has done for the Theatre, taking it from the brink of disaster to a stable organization that continues to provide the best of arts education and entertainment for Durham and beyond.”

Dan’s presentation verified what we read in newspaper accounts.  Financial reports through 2014 indicated two profitable years in a row.  Thus the CEO expanded the number of live events from 68 in 2014 to 108 in 2015.  However, this expansion created a financial crisis with unprofitable shows. The 2015 review showed a a bookkeeping problem, with a net deficit instead of a profit.

Dan says “I anticipated keeping the job until the Theatre’s finances could be stabilized and a new CEO hired – maybe a few months max.  Within a day of starting, it was apparent that things were much worse.”   He immediately put a hold on additional bookings and provided a new business plan to the City.  In March, 2016, the City agreed to a one-time payment of $600,000, if CTD could match this with private donations by June 30, 2017.  This was completed by Thanksgiving, 2016, 7 months ahead of schedule.   Dan’s evaluation is that CTD is now thriving with a reduced net deficit and 14 profitable months in a row.

This has helped CTD develop partners with Duke Performances,  Cat’s Cradle, Motorco,  Full Frame, Art of Cool and Moogfest, as well as continuing to host local organizations.  CTD continues with its award-winning independent film programs and festivals such as the NC Gay + Lesbian Film Festival, the Nevermore Film Festival, the Retro Film Series, and the new Anime-Magic Film Fest that became the highest-grossing film festival in the history of the nonprofit.

In summary, Dan said “CTD has implemented a new business model focused on tightening financial controls, identifying and executing operational efficiencies, quantifying and minimizing risk, and increasing fundraising. This disciplined business approach, combined with innovative and diverse programming choices, strategic partnerships with other presenting organizations and a re-dedication to arts education and community outreach, has transformed CTD – creating a sustainable fiscal model and ensuring its place as a beacon of culture in downtown Durham.”

Submitted by Brady Surles

Speak Your Mind

*