Fuzzy math for DPAC: Durham continues to tout '$44 million theater' | News

Fuzzy math for DPAC: Durham continues to tout '$44 million theater'

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From a Friday press release issued by the City of Durham, announcing new details for a Dec. 1 "community open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony" at the Durham Performing Arts Center:

The Durham Performing Arts Center is a $44 million, state-of-the-art performing arts venue under construction at the corner of Mangum and Vivian Streets in downtown Durham.

In fact, as the Indy reported in November 2007, the theater is budgeted at $46.8 million. In that story, we rounded down to $46, but explained the exact figure in a sidebar. (Read this week's cover package on DPAC, for which the City refused to provide an up-to-date budget that would explain actual costs.)

The City's press release, authored by Public Affairs Director Beverly Thompson, might explain why The News & Observer also used the incorrect figure of $44 million in a Friday blog post about the opening ceremony. In a Sunday print story, the N&O used the correct figure of $46.8 million. (A clip search reveals that, over the past year, the N&O has alternated, erroneously, between $44 and $45.8 million -finally getting it right in September 2008). Meanwhile, the Herald-Sun has stayed away from dollar signs altogether when mentioning DPAC (except to quote a vague "economic impact" estimate provided by Alan DeLisle, the assistant city manager for Economic Workforce and Development). In fact, despite mentioning the theater in 46 articles, news briefs and opinion columns over the past nine months, the last time the paper cited DPAC's budget was in February 2008. That number, according to the H-S? $44 million.

In other words, the H-S has never told its readers exactly what DPAC will cost. The City's PR department has done a better job, give or take a few million dollars.

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