Published: Dec 15, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Dec 15, 2012 08:26 PM
CARRBORO - Long time concerts director Tess Mangum Ocana is out of a job after the ArtsCenter cut her job to save money
Ocana, a 10-year employee, said she had no warning.
“I walked into the room at 2:30, and at 2:40 it was done,” she said.
But executive director Art Menius said he had repeatedly told Ocana she needed to bring in more revenue.
“That department had the biggest losses,” he said.
The ArtsCenter has a small venue, just 355 seats, but its American Roots series has brought in big names. The Independent Weekly gave Ocana one of its Indy Arts Awards last summer, praising her for booking acts that could play much larger halls.
“You just try to shine a light on legends maybe people have forgotten about, or maybe be a little ahead of the game with the Avetts or Carolina Chocolate Drops,” Ocana said. “‘That’s what the ArtsCenter has been about: American music.”
The 10th annual Roots series kicks off Jan. 4 with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Other upcoming artists include ‘60s icon Judy Collins and Suzanne Vega.
“People were really getting excited about what was happening,” Ocana said. “Everything was working.”
But Menius said everything was not working.
“Tess brought the best shows we’ve had at the ArtsCenter,” he said. “If we were in a position where we didn’t have to stick to a budget, Tess would still be here. We have to operate in the black.”
The annual report released last week shows overall performance revenue of $384,900 and expenses of $244,200 but does not break the figures down by concert, theater and other live performances.
John Klein, volunteer chief financial officer, said the ArtsCenter was losing a “significant” amount of money on concerts.
‘To be honest, (the department) wasn’t operating the way it needed to be,” he said.
Ocana, who said she earned $37,500, acknowledged that some shows didn’t sell well.
She said she hopes, with his music background, that Menius continues what she started.
But she won’t be a part of it.
“I’m unemployed and got two kids,” she said. “All I’ve ever done is work in the music industry.”