John Lambert | Indy Week

John Lambert 
Member since Jul 1, 2011



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Re: “A few shows and a lot of land: Should Raleigh sell Walnut Creek Amphitheater?

But do we believe the bean-counters or the conventioneer? Sounds like a long-term mix of marketing and management failures, compounded by lack of adequate oversight from the City of Raleigh. Maybe Roger should go out there and try to hawk it. Who IS responsible?

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by John Lambert on 05/29/2014 at 11:19 AM

Re: “UNC and its Honor Court have failed sexual assault survivors

So who is ultimately responsible for failing to address these abuses? The article quotes "The Instrument" as saying,"The Chancellor remains solely responsible for all matters of student discipline." It would appear that Holden Thorp has failed the university community and the citizens of NC yet again, as he has so often, in so many crucial areas, during his tenure. It's time for Holden and his boss(es) to be held accountable. Perhaps this is where the buck will finally stop.

11 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by John Lambert on 03/27/2013 at 4:32 PM

Re: “Marcelo Martinez, lead dancer with Carolina Ballet, is also a smash in the kitchen

But - with all due respect - does anyone really care what ballet dancers eat? This is the operative question: what do ballet COMPANIES eat? In Raleigh, the answer is: Plenty. The City funds Carolina Ballet more generously than any other arts organization - to the tune of a quarter-million dollars a year, plus other perks and concessions. Unlike other 501c3 groups, Carolina Ballet need not fill out an Arts Commission application or go through any vetting process. I guess they really do need the money - to keep funding their top executives' six-figure salaries. But even that cool 1/4 million - guaranteed by a 10-year "contract" - is not enough, so recently they went to City Council and got themselves $75,000 more. And a significant portion of this largesse comes at the expense of all the other struggling arts groups in town. Shame, shame.

4 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by John Lambert, member of CORAC, 1993-96 on 02/21/2013 at 10:29 AM

Re: “Why hyperlocal websites like New Raleigh can't make money online

Thanks for your nice article on NEW RALEIGH. I am sad to see it fold. But it's false to imply that their departure creates a void in coverage of the arts and culture in the capital. CVNC, an edited online journal, stepped into a real void a dozen years ago, when INDY and SPECTATOR significantly reduced their coverage, and CVNC's still here, based in Raleigh but operating statewide and now covering theatre, dance, and visual art as well as classical music and opera. CVNC is a non-profit, yet it pays its staff and writers and continues to grow under a viable business plan. John Lambert, Senior Contributor,

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by John Lambert, member of CORAC, 1993-96 on 01/24/2013 at 10:30 AM

Re: “Raleigh arts organizations dodge another bullet as city council scrapes for money

There's a typo in the last quote from me in this article: that final word should be "agencies," not "agents." But this gives an excuse to comment more fully on matters under discussion here.

There are no "misconceptions" on the Ballet's funding, and Lisa Jones knows it. The problem is the SOURCE of the money going to the Ballet. Here's how we got to this point. The Ballet wants to be like the NC Symphony when it grows up, altho the NCS, a statewide arts organization that is part of the Department of Cultural Resources, has a 66-year jump on the dancers.... Several years ago, the City wanted the Ballet out of Memorial Auditorium so Roger Krupa could attempt to salvage the City-run Broadway Series South. The Durham Performing Arts Center was cleaning Roger's clock (and there is another bailout of his management failures - $2.5 MILLION this time - in the 2011-12 budget), but meanwhile the City agreed to generous terms and a ten-year "contract" to get the Ballet to move some of its programs to Fletcher (at the further expense of other local groups, since the Ballet gets priority scheduling there…). The Mayor got some bad counsel and refused to listen to responsible advisors, but it was the City Manager who decreed that part of the Ballet funds would come from the till-then competitive (and relatively uncorrupted) per capita arts grants fund - and NOT from other city funds (like the NCS…). That's all fact.

There may be some perception that the Ballet picked the funding source - it didn't. But the Ballet didn't object, nor did the City's Arts Commission, which ought to have dealt with the widespread ramifications of all this. And why didn't it? One reason may be that its Chair - Laura Raynor - has been on the Ballet's board throughout this fiasco. (Has CORAC no conflict of interest policy?)

But it's not JUST the Ballet. Ongoing lease payments for two theatres come out of the grants fund. There's $85K for the salary of the latest CORAC employee. And there's the 15% CORAC gives itself for its own arts programs. This is over HALF A MILLION DOLLARS; yes, 30.5% of the per capita fund comes off the top before the first REAL grant allocation is made. Now it should be clear how this process has been corrupted - and why some members of Raleigh's arts community have turned on the Ballet, Roger Krupa, the Manager, the Mayor, CORAC, and the whole arts grants process. As it stands, this once-reputable program has become, in part, a glorified political slush fund. And the irony is that, with the collapse of Krupa's Broadway series, the City would surely prefer to have the Ballet back in Memorial, full time..., but now the City is locked into its ill-advised deal....

Remember, however, that the bottom line is the bottom line, and with that half million being skimmed off the top, the money available for legitimate grants is reduced by that amount. The net this year is around $1.4M for all the other groups, combined. Readers of 990 forms - the tax returns of non-profits, available online from - may recall having seen a comparable number on the Ballet's current report, for the company's cash position increased - get this! - by $1.4M between 2008 and 2009. Back when CORAC reviewed the Ballet's finances - as part of its grants program - this would have been known by a City agency. Now, of course, the Ballet no longer has to apply for its City money, so there's no review at all....

So how to fix it?

Find funding for ALL the non-grant line items - including the Ballet contract - elsewhere in the City budget; this way, among other things, the Ballet really can look like the NCS - on paper. Better still, make ALL arts organizations that want City funding - including the Ballet - go through the same process. Reaffirm the importance and purpose of the per capita arts fund - it's for funding competitive grants to external arts agencies. Keep politicians and city staff out of the process. Pretty simple, eh? Logical. Fair. Democratic, even.

The Mayor's not running for re-election. He needs to shore up his generally favorable arts legacy by correcting this problem. It's up to him - and to the council - to fix it. Otherwise, we will surely have another arts funding flap again next year, at budget time, and the year after that, and the year after that.... Come on, Council, do your duty! Now.

Posted by John Lambert, member of CORAC, 1993-96 on 07/01/2011 at 1:53 PM

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