Roanoke Rapids Theatre still in red
The Roanoke Rapids Theatre lost more than $1 million in the first three months of this year, including the costs of buying singer Randy Parton out of his performance and management contract.
The City Council agreed in February to pay Parton $546,000 to cancel his five-year contract with the music theater, which once bore his name.
Parton was banned from performing in the $21.5 million theater in December after city officials said he was intoxicated when he showed up for a show.
Officials also raised concerns about Parton's use of taxpayer money, invested in what was then called The Randy Parton Theatre, for trips and alcohol. An audit showed Parton spent more than $2 million from a reserve fund within two years, some of it in Las Vegas and at liquor stores.
Excluding the buyout, the theater lost about $459,000 between January and March, officials said. Mayor Drewery Beale has said attendance at the theater has improved but still isn't at an acceptable level.
City Manager Phyllis Lee said covering the theater's operating losses could force cuts to other initiatives. For example, the city has wanted to revitalize Roanoke Avenue downtown, but officials are looking to local merchants to help pick up the costs, she said.