North Carolina Theatre files for bankruptcy, suspends season

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The North Carolina Theatre announced on Friday that they have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and are suspending the rest of the season.

The North Carolina Theatre Board of Directors announced that they must implement a financial restructuring by seeking protection under Chapter 11 and suspending the rest of the 2024 season.

“As a beloved theatre company housed within the Martin Marietta Performing Arts Center in downtown Raleigh, NCT has been recognized throughout the nation as a beacon of professional performing arts in North Carolina,” said the theatre in a news release. “The financial restructuring is a necessary step toward rebuilding and revitalizing The North Carolina Theatre for the future.”

NCT joins several live theatres across the country that have closed or sought bankruptcy protection resulting from external forces during and after the pandemic. The Board of Directors, with the assistance of staff, tried to secure additional funding, and NCT re-scaled production to reduce expenses.

“If a big player like this can declare bankruptcy, then any of our theaters, any of our arts organizations are in jeopardy,” said Lauren Van Hemert, from Beltline to Broadway, a local arts non-profit.

Bankruptcy filings reveal NCT has more than $2.1 million in total liabilities. It’s a concerning trend Van Hemert says is happening nationwide, “Theaters, and very large theaters, are closing their doors.”

A staple in the community for four decades, Van Hemert says the North Carolina Theatre has helped propel many careers, with productions featuring both Broadway and local talent.

“It’s been a gathering place, and it’s been the source of a lot of good memories,” she said.

During the reorganizing phase, NCT said they plan to continue day-to-day operations of the NCT Conservatory, training and fostering educational growth with students. They hope to eventually resume more cost-effective productions in the smaller A.J. Fletcher Theatre.

“I hope it’s a wake-up call, because people have to show up and support the arts,” Van Hemert said.

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