You make good points, Kathleen, but tickets to the actual performance run $600, effectively excluding the "little people" altogether. So the company's opening night becomes the private plaything, in more than one sense of the word, of the rich.
Don't misunderstand me -- I'd prefer that it were otherwise. But if the company could fill every opening night gala seat at $600 per, should they forgo the opportunity to raise the extra money and let seats go for less?
I'd be interested to know how much they will actually net from the gala in any event.
I agree with Kathleen that they should get just as much money as they can, they are UNDERFUNDED. And why shouldn't the galas be just the 'plaything of the rich', since they're willing to pay and enjoy the social aspect of it, as being members of the charity ball circuit and all the rest--who else could enjoy it? nobody but these people are the insiders of that class; they're not worried about 'getting quality', at least for that gala night. Serious dancegoers all know that galas are more about the celebration than the art itself, which you can see better almost any other time. Why should 'the little people' even want to take on such things? I've never had even the slightest desire to go to a gala, although I don't think of myself exactly as a 'little people' just because I haven't the money for galas. As Leona might have said 'Galas, unlike taxes, are not for the little people'. That wise old sage.
kfw--it's always about the money at the fundraisers, that's what those are for--or really at any 'exclusive event'. When Barbra Streisand did her corny act at the Village Vanguard in Autumn, 2009, there were these fiercely-competitive competitions to win the few available seats for the non-V.I.P.'s, and so a few people got to go to the performance. However, they were NOT allowed to go to the after-performance party uptown; this was for the Clintons (all three) and the other 'important people'. Streisand has always done this kind of super-snobbery back with her big obscenely-priced concerts beginning about 1994, and she's even an artist. None of them are any different from the other, it's just that some are more needy than others. Peter Martins wouldn't even do a toast at that first event with Koch because of 'hard economic times' or some such rot (or he wouldn't provide vodka for the audience, as had been at the 100th Balanchine birthday; of course, he made sure to be smug to the audience anyway, as if that's expected, maybe it is as far as I know). Everything Kathleen says about the networking and the connections, the socialites are heavy into doing that kind of work, they love arm-twisting, breaking heads, and practically blackmailing people into paying for these expensive tickets and donations. I've heard choreographers do 'begging ads' on WQXR some 15 or 20 years ago--asking for a minimum of $300,000, it was one of the weirdest things I ever heard, and I don't know how it worked or not; and what's wrong with that if he got it?). Always the people that pay more get more social privileges, but that does not translate to artistic privileges, and it's totally democratic when it comes to performances with live orchestra of 'Appalachian Spring' and 'Letter to the World' and 'Cave of the Heart'. These 'vulgar galas' pay for those pristine, unforgettable performances, and I will never forget the difference in seeing the Graham in 2005 at CCenter with live orchestra: All the other times it was recorded music, and it made more the difference with the Graham company than any I've ever seen.
I think it quite extraordinary that people resent the Graham company, which has always been on hard times even when she was alive (or always had periods of it), for doing some 'down on all fours' stuff, when NYCB gets funding that hardly is within the liberal tradition of the Arts, then plans a mind-numbing gala with two self-congratulatory names working together for some blown-up thing that sounds somewhat better than Spider-Man, most likely. Both had been better at their original professions, one as dancer, the other as pop singer/composer, and are now advanced socially, so can do these silly projects.
also, Cristian, why is some little frivolity with silly women who can't dance but 'got money' any worse than a great legend of ballet, your own idol, working with the Castro regime because of her own ambitiions (I'm not saying she shouldn't have, just that she did the cozying up that some are not going to think was the most altruistic or tasteful thing they ever heard of). And it's all political when it comes to 'socialites', in the Graham case, and 'Tea Party donors' in someone else's case. You can talk about 'discussion not to be held on political matters', but these 'socialites' and their networking and fundraising is all political, although usually called 'social', since it's upper-class matters. In these matters, it's all a matter of 'which bad taste is the worst bad taste', because it's all bad taste, from Peter's galas of a few years ago with maybe THREE Ives pieces in it (who'd want to hear all that much Ives at a gala but some down-freak?) Artists can just talk a line about being non-political and non-mercenary, but that's all it ever is; they're as political and as economically-oriented as anybody else, maybe just not 'purists' when it come to hedge funds, because, you know, when you get right down to it, it's those greedy Wall Streeters who see the 'purity' in derivatives, hedge-funds, and are always interested, when push comes to shove, in bailouts that allow a return to unjust exec. bonuses. What artist can possibly aspire to such 'purism' when it comes to lucre?
In short, what really is the difference in 'where you get the money from' that Helene has pointed out many times is something artists just can't do? What is the difference in a few socialites getting out to one of Graham's least serious works and having a little fun with it, since it's hardly 'Acts of Light' we're seeing there anyway? What is the difference in 'taking their money' for something that disappears and having to 'sell the name' of a theater to a big right-wing donor? I don't think that's the worst thing in the world either, except that the results for the hall don't seem so much the better, but what Graham company is doing in terms of possibly 'pandering' (at least this time) doesn't hold a candle to what other artists have done. UNLESS people are ready to say that all that right-wing funding should make people now say 'I can't believe the New York City Ballet would ever fall so low'.
In any case, the 'really little people' are excluded from ALL ballet performances: They can't afford 5th Ring or Standing Room, and they never ever do see a real ballet either. So if the 'middle little people' are excluded from Martha Graham Co.'s much-needed fundraising gala, then I couldn't care less.