iwatchthecorps

Oregon Ballet to cut budget by 28 percent

31 posts in this topic

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What do these cuts mean to you? What do you think of the decision to cut live music and three dancers but to keep community outreach and the ballet school? To me, these trade-offs show remarkable long-term thinking, looking at preserving the audience for the future, but this could cut into the upward subscriber trend in the seasons after next.

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The company has often used the live/canned music differential to balance their books in the past, but I can't remember an entire season without live music. I think the cuts, though hard, reflect some sound thinking, and are fairly reversible when the economy improves (unlike some organizations who choose to sell assets or wait only to make more draconian cuts later). I was interested to read the comments on the article -- several people assumed that the administration was making really significant money and was not taking their fair share of the hardship. Though I see the company perform about once a year, I don't know very much about their financial structuring -- does that sound like a true allegation?

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The company has often used the live/canned music differential to balance their books in the past, but I can't remember an entire season without live music.

There will still be some live music, just not with a full orchestra. It's still a big disappointment, though.

I was interested to read the comments on the article -- several people assumed that the administration was making really significant money and was not taking their fair share of the hardship...does that sound like a true allegation?

I think several people there have been making significant money, to date; but I also read that the two highest paid are taking a 30% cut, getting them down to a reasonable point for such a small organization with no endowment, and I believe that others are taking smaller cuts (even those with much smaller salaries, unfortunately). There will be a lot of staff positions completely cut, as well.

So, there are still challenges, and I suspect better decisions might've been made, and sooner...but what do I know?

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a small organization with no endowment

That "no endowment" does seem to be a problem.

I've heard so many good things about this company, its aspirations, its potential, its dancers, its commuity involvement, and the leadership of Christopher Stowell.

"No endowment," however, makes an organization very vulnerable to ups and downs. It also suggests the lack -- so far, at least -- of an established group of high-level donors.

Does anyone know about whether Portland has the kind of philanthropic base (and values) to support such a company over the long haul?

I hope it does.

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It's a growing city; in some ways, it's the New Seattle, less expensive than Seattle is now, and, like Seattle, is a city on the west coast to which many who could not afford California (and now Seattle) or wanted a more "small town in a city" have migrated. Although the newcomers are still driving up housing price, it's still more affordabled, and if I had been about to retire in the last 5-7 years, I would have moved there to an apartment in the center of town. It's relatively flat, and public transportation is excellent.

Here's hoping that some of the newcomers bring some money with them and support the arts once they settle.

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It's a growing city; in some ways, it's the New Seattle, less expensive than Seattle is now, and, like Seattle, is a city on the west coast to which many who could not afford California (and now Seattle) or wanted a more "small town in a city" have migrated.

I've had several friends who've moved to Portland saying they wanted to live in a place like Seattle used to be.

And I know several artists who have relocated because the cost of living and making work is much more reasonable there. But I have to say they've been having even more trouble funding their schools than we have.

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a small organization with no endowment

That "no endowment" does seem to be a problem.

I've heard so many good things about this company, its aspirations, its potential, its dancers, its commuity involvement, and the leadership of Christopher Stowell.

"No endowment," however, makes an organization very vulnerable to ups and downs. It also suggests the lack -- so far, at least -- of an established group of high-level donors.

Does anyone know about whether Portland has the kind of philanthropic base (and values) to support such a company over the long haul?

I hope it does.

No endowment could be a good thing if you look at the glass half empty/half full. Had they had an endowment and based their operating costs on that, they would have been in worse shape with the crash of the market. They have always operated at of ticket sales and contributions, so they are not suffering the lose of the endowment money. Although, when speaking with the development office, the major corporate money is in Seattle not Portland and it doesn't trickle downstream.

I just spent the last 5 days in Portland, seeing the company perform (and visiting colleges with my younger son) and each time I see them, I see the artistic growth by leaps and bounds. I certainly hope that the patrons will continue to support this fine young company. Has anyone seen this past weekend performances? I saw the Saturday and Sunday matinees. I am still digesting "Hush". It was a powerful ballet with a lot of nuances, so it needs to be seen more than once. Of course Tarantella was a crowd favorite and mine too.

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Yesterday's LINKS thread contains 2 detailed reviews of this program, one of them with impressive photos.

It's the third post from the top. Thanks, dirac.

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No endowment could be a good thing if you look at the glass half empty/half full. Had they had an endowment and based their operating costs on that, they would have been in worse shape with the crash of the market. They have always operated at of ticket sales and contributions, so they are not suffering the lose of the endowment money.

You've put your finger on a very true thing -- the organizations I know that were budgeting with a specific endowment income in mind are scrambling just as hard as those who operate 'paycheck to paycheck.'

Glad to hear good things about the rep -- I'm going down to Portland on Thursday and am looking forward to it!

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I've contributed as well... and am hoping others will follow suit! It is such an amazing company!

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The company is indeed on a high ledge right now, but are working hard on several fronts to keep their doors open. The fundraiser on June 12 won't balance the budget on its own, but it is a tremendous show of support from the dance world -- my understanding is that performers from around the country are volunteering to appear almost before they are asked.

The comments on the oregonlive.com piece are indeed a wild slice of opinion, with some pretty vitriolic posts from the "ballet is elite/antique/boring" side. The one comment that really frustrated me, though, was the (I assume) young snowboarder who didn't or couldn't understand that the list of skills he claims for snowboarding (balance, speed, rhythm, control, clarity and "stones") are all found in dancers. All elite athletes are pushing their bodies beyond pedestrian limits -- even if he isn't interested in the formal or aesthetic components of dance, I was surprised that he wasn't able to see the virtuosity involved.

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Ugh, I read the back-and-forth, even though I knew it would be bad for the spirits. It makes me crazy when sports people do not acknowledge the public subsidies for their pet sports, especially for nominally "for profit" sports teams.

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Here's a direct link to the May 27 article referenced in the blog linked by Figurante, above.

http://blog.oregonlive.com/portlandarts/20...e_on_the_b.html

There is also a piece on how this looks and feels from the perspective of the company's dancers:

http://blog.oregonlive.com/portlandarts/20...t_talk_fro.html

And here's something on the plans for a Gala fundraiser:

http://blog.oregonlive.com/portlandarts/20...ing_seriou.html

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This is too close to my heart, as my son is a company artist with the company. I appreciate the support I have seen in this thread. The line up for the June 12th fund raiser is amazing. Who can resist "After the Rain". I weep every time I see it. Tarantella is always a crowd favorite. OBT performed it in its last rep with rave reviews.

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Damian Smith just staged "After the Rain Pas de Deux" for PNB. Van Patten should be marvelous.

Is it of Ulbricht that someone remarked that they need to get him a titanium tambourine? Think of the publicity shot with Ulbricht facing off against the Trailblazers backboard... (I bet he can leap that high.) Seeing Megan Fairchild will be a real treat.

I saw Melody Herrera dance a lovely Nutcracker and was equally good in adagio and allegro passages. She should be lovely in "The Leaves Are Fading".

I wish I could be there. I hope everyone from Portland will review it here :wink:

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I received an email today from Pacific Northwest Ballet with an announcement for the gala, including links to purchase and donate.

Edited to add:

While this is preaching to the choir, if there is statistical evidence for this, how can arts education cuts be justified anywhere?

Why do our schools need the arts? Because kids who participate in the arts in school are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement than those who don't. They have better attendance, lower dropout rates, higher confidence and stronger writing skills. At-risk and special-needs students see stratospheric increases in achievement when their creativity is stimulated.

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Looking at the 990s online is revealing. Fiscal years 2005 and 2007 were more or less in balance but fiscal year 2006 was a real disaster year. Gross receipts lagged and expenditures ballooned. What was going on that year???

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