Civic Theatre 2020 Oversight

I could ramble on for some time about this, but I will simply say that I am both sad and angry about the current condition of the organization. I am trying to do due diligence on behalf of the City and find a way to create a better future for our publicly owned arts venues.

The performance of the Rochester Civic Theatre (RCT) Executive Director, Kevin Miller was abysmal. The oversight and controls by the 2019 RCT Board was equally poor. No significant board changes were made after poor handling of previous scandals including the re-victimization of a person reporting sexual harassment. The fact that some of the same board members were around to fail the organization another time should not be forgotten. The 2019 RCT Board President was Kay Hocker who inexplicably is still on the Board of Directors as of this writing. Her resignation or firing is long overdue in my opinion, but the City does not control that. I have personally found Kay to be pleasant, I wish her well, but accountability is needed.

Kevin Miller was a snake oil salesman and the RCT Board bought the product. Due diligence was not performed in his hiring, proper oversight was not provided, financial controls were not in place, and his dishonest and unethical conduct was never reported to City officials. Through some combination of incompetence, deliberate neglect, or combination there of, he has driven the organization to near bankruptcy.

Today we learned:

  • Kevin Miller failed to pay the IRS, Minnesota Revenue, RPU, their auditor, and their employees.
  • Kevin Miller spent $250k on professional actors as the organization was already bleeding money.
  • Kevin Miller and the Board took out a $300k operating loan without notifying the City. Other staff told him a number of times that the city needed to be informed.
  • Kevin Miller went to the city for the full 200k 2020 allocation while still withholding material information.
  • Kevin Miller manipulated budget documents (perhaps unintentionally) in a way that mislead the organization on performance.
  • RCT is relying on loans from Board Members which is a terrible conflict of interest.

The Board of Directors can only say that “Kevin resigned to spend more time with his family.” This is likely code for “we can’t discuss what really happened.” Irrespective he should have been fired long before he resigned. I feel a lack of public information about Kevin’s performance contributed to his hiring at RCT. As a steward of the City of Rochester, I think it is important to document our findings. In addition to this Councilmember’s comments there will also be official findings brought to the council.

Most of the elected & appointed officials that have protected outside agencies from true accountability are gone. This went on far too long. If RCT makes it through this it will be without additional aid from taxpayers. They certainly understand this. There will be changes, and the City will not be bailing out the organization. I do think it is important to remember that there are good people in the organization and they are also victims here. I do want to point out that the current Board President and staff have been incredibly forthcoming with data, and I appreciate their honest conversations.

The opportunity that exists it to pursue additional partnerships and a “one roof policy” on the Mayo Civic Center campus to increase the number of arts groups that have access to the space. Irrespective of the immediate future of RCT, we have the opportunity to have far more organizations and people to find public space for learning and performance.

4 comments

    1. Though this is all difficult news to hear and I hope it changes, I find it very difficult to believe he paid $250k in professional actors. Being that I was one of said actors and I know what other actors made throughout his tenure there and having done the math (allowing for travel and lodging) it falls far short of $250k. I also beg you to remember that there were also directors, choreographers, “vocal coaches”, music directors, and
      non-union actors receiving payment not just actors. My point is please don’t enforce the narrative that paying actors is a terrible thing. Whether you like to believe it or not, the quality of the work rises when you pay professionals to do it. I agree he was a snake oil salesman, but hiring people who do this work for a living was not his greatest mistake. Please be more cautious with your words.

      1. Very fair and thank you for that. I will try to do better. I think you are correct, the real issue here is more on the inability to balance the books for the talent they brought in. I wish you success.

  1. This is truly very sad and a loss to Rochester. For many years this theater was great. The children’s and adult performances.
    Relying on community performers and voluteers.

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