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Carolina Theatre's Nocek resigns, effective immediately

So we're not saying that this was because of the big-ticket sales tax snafu that The Durham News broke late last year.

But, it's sure gotta be at the top of the speculation list given the timing -- i.e., soon after the announcement, and on a snowy Friday afternoon to boot.

We don't know any more than has been in the funnies about the tax issue (though I'm still curious how this squared up, IIRC, with the state changing taxability of theater tickets, museum admits, college meal plans and a range of other adjustments.) And we'd be remiss if we didn't give a tip-of-the-hat for Nocek's role in revitalizing both a facility and its programming, both much more vibrant since his tenure.

Update: Per the H-S, it was the taxes.

The theatre’s board of directors “felt new leadership was needed to restore confidence and get us back on track,” said Ellen Reckhow, who represents the Board of County Commissioners on the theater board. “Unfortunately, the board was not aware of the challenging financial situation until fairly recently,” Reckhow said.

The theater’s board of directors named businessman and philanthropist Dan Berman interim president and CEO. Berman served as board chair for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, and is a board member and finance chair of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

 

From local architect and Carolina Theatre board prez Scott Harmon:

Dear Theatre Supporter,

As chairman of the Board of Trustees of Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc., I am writing you today to inform you that Bob Nocek has stepped down as our president and CEO. His resignation is effective immediately.

Under Bob’s leadership, the Carolina Theatre has played a key role in the renaissance of downtown Durham. We are grateful for his service and wish him well in his new pursuits.

Stepping in as our interim CEO will be businessman and philanthropist Dan Berman. Dan has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, for which he served as board chair. He is currently a board member and finance chair of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

Dan will assume responsibility for all financial, operational and programming activities at the theatre as of Monday. He has agreed to volunteer his services and will receive no compensation for his work as interim CEO.

We feel very strongly that with your continued support, the hard work of our staff and volunteers, and Dan’s guidance, the Carolina Theatre will strengthen its role as a community treasure presenting vibrant, thought-provoking film and live performances that contribute to the cultural and economic vitality of downtown Durham.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Director of Development Treat Harvey at treat@carolinatheatre.org, or me at scott@centerstudioarchitecture.com

 

Comments

David

"And we'd be remiss if we didn't give a tip-of-the-hat for Nocek's role in revitalizing both a facility and its programming, both much more vibrant since his tenure."

What am I missing? This guy was at the helm for colossal financial mismanagement, either a blunder of epic proportions or something much worse. How that merits anything more than what he got is beyond me.

Kevin Davis

@David: Maybe I'm still whistling "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life" after seeing Monty Python at the Carolina -- but I was really impressed by the customer service and programming changes under Nocek.

I emailed the Carolina's previous director twice in a six month experience about a customer service experience I had at the theater that was awful, simply awful. I was stunned that she found no reason to bother to respond (even with prodding.) The operational cleaning house it felt to me like Nocek did made it a great venue. And the films, events and the like have been great over the past few years.

Consider me disappointed that such a mistake happened and a change was made. I only hope that -- again, on the customer-facing side as well as the business side -- the Carolina's next leader has success on both fronts.

Brian Salomon

I agree, Kevin. The Carolina improved dramatically under Bob's leadership. He vitalized the programming at a time when DPAC was on the rise and could have pushed the Carolina into the background. I don't know the details of the tax issue but I'm sorry to see him go. I knew Bob a bit after taking a class together at Crossfit Durham and I highly doubt there was any deliberate mishandling of finances.

Shelle G

So being there under the last CEO I did get to see alot. I've noticed that programing changed & I also noticed that I don't hear anything about the shows like we use to. Knowing a lil bit about how the old CEO left the theatre with all bills being paid at least 2 months ahead of plan. The best staff that the Theatre had was fired especially if you didn't agree with Bob or if you didn't have a lead on big donors. I always kept my customers and artists happy. I would also just point out what was wrong to try to help things out. Marketing is bad & need new help there. I was sad to read how badly funds were being used, and how kids don't all get to see shows. I hope something can be done to get the Theatre back to the way it was before Bob.

Shelle G

*(A small edit) As someone who worked at the Carolina under both Bob and his predecessor, I got to see a lot. I've noticed that programming changed & I also noticed that I don't hear anything about the shows like we used to. Knowing a lil bit about how the old CEO left the theatre with all bills being paid at least 2 months ahead of plan, I also know the best staff that the Theatre had was fired especially if you didn't agree with Bob. I always kept my customers and artists happy. Today marketing is bad, PR and community relations is awful at a time when the public needs to be able to trust a nonprofit theater that was saved by the people for the people. I was sad to read how badly funds were being used, and how kids don't all get to see shows due to a change in philosophy about accessibility for all.  I hope something can be done to get the Theatre back to the way it was before Bob.

DJ Kraze

I agree with Shelle G as a community member and a promoter who worked closely with the previous CEO i notices the change in programming and community relations.... I reached out repeatedly trying to get involved and never got any response. I dont know but maybe because i dont fit the stereotype? Maybe he googled me? I have no clue but he never responded... Maybe he felt he didnt need the community relations anymore.... I am not surprised it went downhill...

David

Kevin & Brian, my comments weren't a statement on a director's customer service qualities or how friendly he is; instead, I made them within the context that this situation (which has been documented recently in local media) smells fishy. There were decisions made on his watch that now look very questionable, notably canceling the monthly independent accountant's review of the books, and the simultaneous alarming growth of the operation. I say alarming for the simple reason that now, again, this terrific theater is a liability to the taxpayers of Durham. Clearly, his growth plan wasn't sustainable or we wouldn't be staring at this mess.

Jeff Bakalchuck

@David if that is true about cancelling the monthly independent accountant's review then this appears to be more than just fishy. Why take that step unless you're afraid that they'll discover something you don't want discovered?

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