Nov 13, 2023 - News

N.C. Theatre emerges from the pandemic with vulnerable finances

The North Carolina Theatre's home is at the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts. Photo: Visit Raleigh

North Carolina Theatre is on shaky financial footing.

Why it matters: The pandemic has had a brutal effect on the arts world, especially as audience participation is still lagging for some.

Driving the news: The North Carolina Theatre, a nonprofit that puts on professional plays and teaches actors, says it is struggling due to lower ticket sales and a decline in corporate sponsorships.

  • It's launching a campaign to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure it is able to continue, said Jill Heath, the theater's treasurer and chair of its finance committee.
  • Its upcoming run of "Elf the Musical" is still scheduled and the company has high hopes of its success.

By the numbers: In its most recent nonprofit financial filings, which are for 2021, the company's revenue was $3.6 million — down more than 20% from 2019.

  • At the same time, the company's liabilities have grown 25% to $3 million in 2021.
  • Numbers for 2022 have not yet been filed with the IRS.

Details: Heath also said that the theater is reaching out to both the city and the North Carolina General Assembly for financial assistance.

  • The city — which is also NC Theatre's landlord at the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts — already financially supports the theater, giving it a grant this fiscal year worth $146,878.
  • To save money, North Carolina Theatre will be moving within the Martin Marietta Center from Raleigh Memorial Auditorium (capacity 2,354) to the Fletcher Opera Theater (capacity 600).

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin called NC Theatre "a huge asset to our community," and told Axios that city staff is currently looking at ways to assist in the short term.

  • Baldwin said it was too early for specific steps, but that the city was looking at funding and future agreements on space.

What they're saying: If you don't ask for help, then [the public] doesn't know you need the help," Heath told Axios.

  • "So that's why we're putting the call out," she said. "We don't want to be one of the theaters that goes under, and the only way we can do that is by getting support from our community."

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