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NYC Ballet PricesAudience Member Goes on Strike


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#76 Helene

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 09:12 AM

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.

#77 puppytreats

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 09:36 AM

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?

#78 Trini

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 09:45 AM

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.

#79 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 11:33 AM

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.

#80 Eileen

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 12:06 PM

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.

#81 Jayne

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 12:08 PM

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.

#82 abatt

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 12:35 PM

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.

#83 California

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 12:53 PM

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...

#84 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 12:56 PM


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."

#85 abatt

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:00 PM

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

#86 susanger

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:44 PM

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.

#87 bart

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 02:46 PM

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:)

#88 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 02:55 PM

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.

#89 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 02:59 PM

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.

#90 richard53dog

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 03:08 PM

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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