Eileen

NYC Ballet Prices

241 posts in this topic

I always assumed that there are no royalties or commission fees for works Martins makes for NYCB and SAB, and that any royalties, if charged, are for stagings outside the company. If he receives commission fees for works he creates for other companies, that is fair.

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To inform the conversation, per the NYCB website, I found a link to their annual reports, the most recent is 2009. Revenues are reported as follows:

46% Performance Ticket Sales & Tour Fees

36% Public Support (see below)

15% Investment Income / Foundation earnings

3% Other income (this is usually merchandise sales, etc)

The public support slice of the pie is subsequently broken down as follows:

44% Individual Donations

17% Special Events

12% Foundations donations

8% Government support

6% Estates & Trusts

Expenses are broken down as follows:

69% Production Costs

10% Administration (most executive directors / artistic director salaries are included in this slice)

8% Facility Expenses

7% Production Management Expenses

6% Public Support Expenses

Another Interesting Numbers:

206 total performances

NEA listed as a donor in the 75k - 99k category

60 Minutes journalist Lesley Stahl is in the 50k - 74k category

The MSNBC's Money Honey Maria Bartiromo, Macy's Foundation, Hon. Kimba Wood (would be Supreme) and ELLE Magazine are in the 25k - 49k category

Chanel, Inc is in the 15k - 24k category

Walt Disney Company in the 10k - 14k category

I could not find Ms. Parker listed as a donor, although she could have donated anonymously in 2009. I hope this information is enlightening.

The above listed individual donors were board members. Others were on the advisory board.

2009 compensation expenses:

total comp to board/officer/key employee: $2.4 m

other sal/wages: $27.7m

pension contrib: $3.3 m

other employee benefits: $3.3 m

payroll tax: $3.5

legal: $248k

fundraising: $273 k

other: $1.8 m

Source 2009 Form 990

What is Darci's role? Is she a coach?

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Maybe Martins has to create new ballets as a condition of his employment as artistic director? They must be expensive though especially those that include commissioned music or scenery, in addition to rehearsal time.

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If ticket prices go up to a point where people who go regularly will save it only for a special occasion, it impacts programming and artistic decisions as well.

It's already happened - examples are the full length productions of first Swan Lake and then Romeo + Juliet. Not so much that they were done - NYCB has always survived by creating novelties that sell tickets. But they are getting programed in large proportion, and a rep program was even canceled in favor of an additional performance of Swan Lake. None of this is meaningful in isolation. But it's a trend.

How much of the programming is now full-length works? The company still won't look that reality in the face and include acting classes at SAB to prepare the dancers for it. And that perhaps different dancers should be hired if this is the new repertory.

It's like dripping water on a stone. We're not going to see the real effects of these decisions until the stone changes shape.

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I went to 14 performances of NYCBallet this past season. Next season I plan to attend none, because their price increases have made it prohibitive for me. We have yet to see what the effect of these price increases will be.

By the way, when I looked at Chamber Music Society's website (Lincoln Center) there was a small notice that stage extensions are often used, so that the first row of the theater is G, not A. This is to me an indication of yet another performing arts institution reducing the number of seats so the theater will look more full. Not a good sign.

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There was a mention by the union rep that the subscription system is "broken". NYCB has a $6m deficit. So I'll put it out to the interested posters on this thread: How would ycou fix the subscription system, and how would you resolve the deficit? It's easy to say "oh, all seats should be $5.00 and I should get two vouchers for wine". But that model is not sustainable.

I think we've aired out all the disgruntlement. But what is the solution?

I'll start: If full lengths ballets help resolve the budget deficit, then by all means, NYCB needs to do them, and embrace them, and use Balanchine ballets as much as possible (Coppelia, Nutcracker, La Sonnenbula, Swan Lake, etc). Create a "storybook" season ticket package for parents, with additional kids getting half price if they show some sort of proof of age.

Have an All-Balanchine "balletomanes' choice" rep - where the season ticket holders get to nominate and then vote on the weekend's selection in advance. Maybe once in the fall, and once in the spring. It would engage the audience, and allow them to see some of their favorites. Surely there is a way to engineer an election system online that is fair. Dancers could even campaign in youtube videos for their favorites.

Have an All Waltz rep for New Year's - Viennese Waltz mixed with a few others for New Year's Eve, or Valentine's, or some other holiday type of time. Make ballet a "date night".

Create some sort of outreach program for tourists, so that seeing NYCB in person is a "must do" while visiting the Big Apple. I'm not sure how to go about this, still an idea I'm working out. One way to make NYCB more visible is to do an outdoor concert, Morning Chat show performance, and/or follow the lead of Ballet in Cinema and do an HD Broadcast. Has NYCB recently done a joint exhibition with a museum to show off their Karinska costumes? Maybe do something with the met museum, and offer a special deal entry fee - see the costumes first and get a discounted ticket to a Balanchine ballet?

I don't know how to "fix" the subscription series, except to say that I'd rather sit center in the bleacher seats, than orchestra far far right or left with 1/3 of the stage obstructed, but a great view of the far wings and the loitering dancers waiting to go on.

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I don't know how to "fix" the subscription series, except to say that I'd rather sit center in the bleacher seats, than orchestra far far right or left with 1/3 of the stage obstructed, but a great view of the far wings and the loitering dancers waiting to go on.

Yes, that is EXACTLY the problem with trying to herd everyone into these extreme sides with poor views. Maybe if the administrators who dreamed this up actually sat in these awful seats, they would have a better understanding of why those extreme side seats do not sell, and why people refuse to purchase those seats. I think some people who are ageeing to be moved from the fourth ring will be very disappointed when they take their new $26 seats and suddenly realize that half the stage is not visible because of the extreme angle, and instead of seeing the peformance they will be watching the dancers in the wings hanging out.

Maybe the solution is fewer performances every season, rather than herding everyone out of the fourth ring. NYCB used to have a Sunday evening performance, but it was discontinued because it never sold well. NYCB has reduced the number of weeks it performs in Saratoga too. Maybe 16 weeks of rep performances is overkill, and there is no market for that many performances.

One additional point of interest is that NYCB is purchasing the rights to a ballet that was created on the Royal Ballet (Wheeldon's DGV, to be performed during the 2011-2012 season). I don't think NYCB has ever done this before, have they? My understanding is that to date NYCB has only performed works that were created on NYCB. Purchasing the right to perform good ballets that were created elsewhere is a step in the right direction. It is much more cost efficient than commissioning new works that are total duds.

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I always assumed that there are no royalties or commission fees for works Martins makes for NYCB and SAB, and that any royalties, if charged, are for stagings outside the company. If he receives commission fees for works he creates for other companies, that is fair.

Just curious...have any other companies asked him to create works for them or restage works he originally did for NYCB? I can't think of any. Telling...

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I always assumed that there are no royalties or commission fees for works Martins makes for NYCB and SAB, and that any royalties, if charged, are for stagings outside the company. If he receives commission fees for works he creates for other companies, that is fair.

Just curious...have any other companies asked him to create works for them or restage works he originally did for NYCB? I can't think of any. Telling...

I think Martins' Swan Lake and Octet were originally done for the RDB, no?

Edited to add this from Wikipedia:

"He also did the choreography for the Barbie movies Barbie in the Nutcracker and Barbie of Swan Lake."

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I think Fearful Symmetries was picked up by other ballet companies.

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There was a mention by the union rep that the subscription system is "broken". NYCB has a $6m deficit. So I'll put it out to the interested posters on this thread: How would ycou fix the subscription system, and how would you resolve the deficit? It's easy to say "oh, all seats should be $5.00 and I should get two vouchers for wine". But that model is not sustainable.

I think we've aired out all the disgruntlement. But what is the solution?

I'll start: If full lengths ballets help resolve the budget deficit, then by all means, NYCB needs to do them, and embrace them, and use Balanchine ballets as much as possible (Coppelia, Nutcracker, La Sonnenbula, Swan Lake, etc). Create a "storybook" season ticket package for parents, with additional kids getting half price if they show some sort of proof of age.

Have an All-Balanchine "balletomanes' choice" rep - where the season ticket holders get to nominate and then vote on the weekend's selection in advance. Maybe once in the fall, and once in the spring. It would engage the audience, and allow them to see some of their favorites. Surely there is a way to engineer an election system online that is fair. Dancers could even campaign in youtube videos for their favorites.

Have an All Waltz rep for New Year's - Viennese Waltz mixed with a few others for New Year's Eve, or Valentine's, or some other holiday type of time. Make ballet a "date night".

Create some sort of outreach program for tourists, so that seeing NYCB in person is a "must do" while visiting the Big Apple. I'm not sure how to go about this, still an idea I'm working out. One way to make NYCB more visible is to do an outdoor concert, Morning Chat show performance, and/or follow the lead of Ballet in Cinema and do an HD Broadcast. Has NYCB recently done a joint exhibition with a museum to show off their Karinska costumes? Maybe do something with the met museum, and offer a special deal entry fee - see the costumes first and get a discounted ticket to a Balanchine ballet?

I don't know how to "fix" the subscription series, except to say that I'd rather sit center in the bleacher seats, than orchestra far far right or left with 1/3 of the stage obstructed, but a great view of the far wings and the loitering dancers waiting to go on.

2012 is the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Stravinsky Festival and the 30th anniversary of the Stravinsky Centennial Celebration. I know the 11/12 season is programmed and many of the Black & White ballets this past May use Stravinsky's music but perhaps programming for Fall 2012 could revive ballets from the 1972 festival.

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So I'll put it out to the interested posters on this thread: How would you fix the subscription system, and how would you resolve the deficit?
That's a fair challenge, though not easy for those of us who are outsiders to this matter and who have relatively little time to think about solutions. (NYCB administration is being paid to do this kind of thinking.)

I admit that I like the idea of being flexible about the size of the house depending on projected sales for each program. The NY State Theater was always a bit too big for certain works, and watching ballets performed in front of a sea of empty seats is discouraging. On the other hand, I wouldn't just assume that only R&J, Swan Lake, and Nutcracker can fill every ring. More clever marketing of other kinds of programs -- especially the Balanchine and Robbins works which are the core repertoire of the company and which tend to do well -- is important. Black and White week was a brilliant concept, very well advertised. I'm glad to hear that the audience response was good.

Another thought -- why not close only one ring rather than two? The 3rd ring, with a well-advertised policy of low prices for all, could be a new home for former 4th ringers, the most loyal audience the company has, and possibly a magnet for new audiences as well.

I would be very careful about making the subscription process too complex, restrictive, or costly. Whatever you think about subscribers, they have been a relatively predictable source of income and, more than most audiences, a reliable source of donations. You don't want to lose these people.

As for the deficit, I just don't see the kinds of 'savings" they are talking about seriously addressing a number as big as $6 million. The more usual approach is to hustle up yet another group of huge donors to fill the gap. Maybe, if there is more budget oversight by the Board in the future, the company will be able to live within their income in the future.

(If all else fails, send the Board, plus spouses and significant others, on a research trip to Greece to find out what the poor Greek government suggests. I'm only joking on that one. :wink:)

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Ladies and Gentleman, Start your engines!

The New York Times article by Daniel J. Wakin, is now open for comments!!!

I think that the Company, city, and world should see the things we have been saying.

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There was a mention by the union rep that the subscription system is "broken". NYCB has a $6m deficit. So I'll put it out to the interested posters on this thread: How would ycou fix the subscription system, and how would you resolve the deficit? It's easy to say "oh, all seats should be $5.00 and I should get two vouchers for wine". But that model is not sustainable.

I think we've aired out all the disgruntlement. But what is the solution?

I'll start: If full lengths ballets help resolve the budget deficit, then by all means, NYCB needs to do them, and embrace them, and use Balanchine ballets as much as possible (Coppelia, Nutcracker, La Sonnenbula, Swan Lake, etc). Create a "storybook" season ticket package for parents, with additional kids getting half price if they show some sort of proof of age.

Have an All-Balanchine "balletomanes' choice" rep - where the season ticket holders get to nominate and then vote on the weekend's selection in advance. Maybe once in the fall, and once in the spring. It would engage the audience, and allow them to see some of their favorites. Surely there is a way to engineer an election system online that is fair. Dancers could even campaign in youtube videos for their favorites.

Have an All Waltz rep for New Year's - Viennese Waltz mixed with a few others for New Year's Eve, or Valentine's, or some other holiday type of time. Make ballet a "date night".

Create some sort of outreach program for tourists, so that seeing NYCB in person is a "must do" while visiting the Big Apple. I'm not sure how to go about this, still an idea I'm working out. One way to make NYCB more visible is to do an outdoor concert, Morning Chat show performance, and/or follow the lead of Ballet in Cinema and do an HD Broadcast. Has NYCB recently done a joint exhibition with a museum to show off their Karinska costumes? Maybe do something with the met museum, and offer a special deal entry fee - see the costumes first and get a discounted ticket to a Balanchine ballet?

I don't know how to "fix" the subscription series, except to say that I'd rather sit center in the bleacher seats, than orchestra far far right or left with 1/3 of the stage obstructed, but a great view of the far wings and the loitering dancers waiting to go on.

I think these are very creative and interesting ideas and hope the Company sees your posting and uses it at least as a jumping off point.

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I would be very careful about making the subscription process too complex, restrictive, or costly. Whatever you think about subscribers, they have been a relatively predictable source of income and, more than most audiences, a reliable source of donations. You don't want to lose these people.

I agree very strongly here. They only need to think about how their co-tenant basically decimated their subscription base.

(OK, NYCO had a number of bad moves but it's really possible the worst was to alienate their subscribers by going dark for a year)

Aside from subscription problems, the NYCB has a clunky website, a ticket buying utility that has way too many extra steps and they seem to be a bit arrogant with their patrons.

Remember the block programming they tried to shove down their patron's throats a few years back?

My suggestion would be really, really seriously rethink the repertory. Program what audiences will buy tickets to (ok, this probably means some full lengths) and skip the junk that sinks so many of their programs.

Redo the website, make it more efficient and more friendly. Make the subscribers and single ticket buys excited about buying a ticket and going to NYCB events. Don't try to ram some half-baked ideas a business school dropout in the marketing department had down the customer's throats. The MArketing department can be replaced much more easily than the customer base.

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More Martins ballet productions, by no means exhaustive, in addition to "Swan Lake" at RDB:

San Francisco Ballet did "The Waltz Project" in 1996.

Oregon Ballet Theatre did "Ash" in 2007 and 2009.

Pennsylvania Ballet did "Fearful Symmetries" in 2009.

Pacific Northwest Ballet did "Valse Triste" in 2006.

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Ladies and Gentleman, Start your engines!

The New York Times article by Daniel J. Wakin, is now open for comments!!!

I think that the Company, city, and world should see the things we have been saying.

Thank you, I just commented on Wakin's article.

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How much of the programming is now full-length works? The company still won't look that reality in the face and include acting classes at SAB to prepare the dancers for it. And that perhaps different dancers should be hired if this is the new repertory.

It's like dripping water on a stone. We're not going to see the real effects of these decisions until the stone changes shape.

This is such a thoughtful post. The only thing I would add is that the really clever ones are already diversifying (i.e accepting Carla Fracci's invitations to perform the classics in Italy.) Doesn't help the kids in the school, though.

I think we've aired out all the disgruntlement. But what is the solution?

I'll start: If full lengths ballets help resolve the budget deficit, then by all means, NYCB needs to do them, and embrace them, and use Balanchine ballets as much as possible (Coppelia, Nutcracker, La Sonnenbula, Swan Lake, etc). Create a "storybook" season ticket package for parents, with additional kids getting half price if they show some sort of proof of age.

I'm still annoyed that Peter Martins mounted his DOA (artistically, if not commercially) Romeo + Juliet instead of reviving the Tudor Romeo and Juliet, which, after all, is a one-act semi-abstraction of Shakespeare's play. Yes, the style would have been alien at first and, yes, it would have been expensive to mount. But it couldn't possibly have been any more expensive or artistically disastrous than the version they eventually presented. And, you could have paired the Tudor Romeo and Juliet with, say, the Balanchine Swan Lake to create a program that was both artistically serious and had the "name factor" that comes from the story ballets. (AND, what a coup it would have been for City Ballet to preserve this highly-regarded Tudor work in the face of ABT's complete indifference to it.)

More Martins ballet productions, by no means exhaustive, in addition to "Swan Lake" at RDB:

San Francisco Ballet did "The Waltz Project" in 1996.

Oregon Ballet Theatre did "Ash" in 2007 and 2009.

Pennsylvania Ballet did "Fearful Symmetries" in 2009.

Pacific Northwest Ballet did "Valse Triste" in 2006.

That's really not much, though, when you consider he's been making pieces regularly for the last 35 years. And, if you look at the companies, most of them are "in the family," so to speak. His repertory will die with him.

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More Martins ballet productions, by no means exhaustive, in addition to "Swan Lake" at RDB:

San Francisco Ballet did "The Waltz Project" in 1996.

Oregon Ballet Theatre did "Ash" in 2007 and 2009.

Pennsylvania Ballet did "Fearful Symmetries" in 2009.

Pacific Northwest Ballet did "Valse Triste" in 2006.

That's really not much, though, when you consider he's been making pieces regularly for the last 35 years. And, if you look at the companies, most of them are "in the family," so to speak.

I think he's been making the same 2 or 3 pieces regularly for the last 35 years. They just get different music, costumes, lighting, and titles.

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I would be very careful about making the subscription process too complex, restrictive, or costly. Whatever you think about subscribers, they have been a relatively predictable source of income and, more than most audiences, a reliable source of donations. You don't want to lose these people.

Yes indeed. I know a lot of people who aren't super "into" the arts (in other words, they just go to the theater to go), but they keep subscriptions every year out of habit. Faced with irritation over subscription policy you risk alienating a dependable audience, even if they don't attend as frequently or are as knowledgeable as (for this example) 4th Ring members. A lot of avid viewers subscribe to take the advantages that being a subscriber brings, but for many it's just something enjoyable to do 4 Saturdays a year or what have you. These do people matter in the grand scheme of things and aren't likely to take the time to figure out new pricing schemes and seating.

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That's really not much, though, when you consider he's been making pieces regularly for the last 35 years. And, if you look at the companies, most of them are "in the family," so to speak. His repertory will die with him.

That may be true, but I've seen a number of pieces that AD's, house choreographers, and dancers have choreographed for their own companies that have never made it to another stage, which is a real shame, because I've looked at them and thought, "That would be perfect for Ballet Arizona. That would be great for PNB dancers. That would be a great addition for Oregon Ballet Theatre. Any number of Professional Division students would look superb in that piece, and it would challenge them."

I was thrilled to see that Kansas City Ballet did Ib Andersen's version of "Romeo and Juliet", because it is beautifully constructed. But that's a rarity.

I often wonder if there's some unspoken "no poach" policy at work.

And the SFB cast I saw in "The Waltz Project" looked wonderful in it.

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Maybe I'm naive, but rather than let those rings sit empty I'd fill them with students (of all ages) and build the audience of tomorrow. Surely there's a foundation or two somewhere who could be persuaded to throw a few bucks NYCB's way for the opportunity. Have a conversation with City Center of Music and Drama (Koch Theater sublessee), Lincoln Center (Koch Theater lessee), or New York City (Koch Theater Lessor) about a break in facility fees in exchange for making those seats available to the Board of Ed.

To me, throwing away those empty seats is like throwing away good food. There are a ton of kids in the metropolitan area who will never see the inside of a performing arts venue but need to. The powers that be -- the NYCB Board, the big donors and foundations who support the company, our elected officials -- could make that happen if they really wanted to.

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Maybe I'm naive, but rather than let those rings sit empty I'd fill them with students (of all ages) and build the audience of tomorrow. Surely there's a foundation or two somewhere who could be persuaded to throw a few bucks NYCB's way for the opportunity. Have a conversation with City Center of Music and Drama (Koch Theater sublessee), Lincoln Center (Koch Theater lessee), or New York City (Koch Theater Lessor) about a break in facility fees in exchange for making those seats available to the Board of Ed.

To me, throwing away those empty seats is like throwing away good food. There are a ton of kids in the metropolitan area who will never see the inside of a performing arts venue but need to. The powers that be -- the NYCB Board, the big donors and foundations who support the company, our elected officials -- could make that happen if they really wanted to.

Good suggestion! Why don't you put it on the Times.... the page is getting good responses. (Thanks to all who are posting.)

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Maybe I'm naive, but rather than let those rings sit empty I'd fill them with students (of all ages) and build the audience of tomorrow. Surely there's a foundation or two somewhere who could be persuaded to throw a few bucks NYCB's way for the opportunity. Have a conversation with City Center of Music and Drama (Koch Theater sublessee), Lincoln Center (Koch Theater lessee), or New York City (Koch Theater Lessor) about a break in facility fees in exchange for making those seats available to the Board of Ed.

To me, throwing away those empty seats is like throwing away good food. There are a ton of kids in the metropolitan area who will never see the inside of a performing arts venue but need to. The powers that be -- the NYCB Board, the big donors and foundations who support the company, our elected officials -- could make that happen if they really wanted to.

The same kind of policy was in effect during the days of Ballet Society. The top level of the City Center was unoccupied. However, it did not stop the resourceful students from attending---we got in through the iron staircase attached to the building---there were simply too many of us to be evicted. After a while, they got used to us and left us alone.

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Very interesting comments to Wakin's article (including mine!). Given the marketing mentality at NYCB, I have a great idea for an untapped resource: water! There is a water fountain on the orchestra level which is much used during intermission. Why not turn it into a spigot of money? It should be simple to add a slot for quarters, you put in a quarter, take a cup and a carefully measured 3 ounces of NYCB water pours out. This giving out free water is wasteful and leads to some patrons taking advantage and taking TWO cups of water. Charging just 25 cents a cup will discourage abuse of water resources, and provide a significant financial flow. Imagine the new Peter Martins ballets this will finance! And worth every penny.

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