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City Ballet PremieresWhat is their effect on the deficit?


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21 replies to this topic

#16 puppytreats

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 09:14 AM

Slant, While we appreciate your reluctance to impose your opinion on others, we still would like to know your position, particularly since you are a major donor.

#17 Helene

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 09:17 AM

This wouldn't be the first time that NYCB spent a lot of money on a festival. The first under Martins, if I remember correctly, was the American Dance Festival, and then there were the Diamond Festivals.

How much money for the festivals is restricted for that purpose? How many ballets have gone on to survive?

Suzanne Farrell Ballet is not a full-time company, but if that company is a museum, it's one I'm happy to go to. Not every work is a masterpiece, but every work has a purpose.

#18 Slant

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 10:16 AM

Puppytreats,in answer to your request to share my thoughts on the development expenses, let me first share some guidelines from an expert. James Greenfield is one of the leading gurus on fundraising for nonprofits and he has established “Reasonable Cost Guidelines” for fundraising and development. I provide a summary of those below:

  • Direct Mail Acquisition/Constituency Building: $1.25 to $1.50 to raise $1.00 (Plus a 1% rate of return on all lists used in the mailing)
  • Direct Mail Renewal/Constituency Retention: 20 – 25 cents per $1 raised (Plus a 50% rate of renewal among donors of the previous year)
  • Benefits and Special Events: 50 cents of gross proceeds per $1 raised
  • Corporate and Foundation Solicitation: 20 cents per $1 raised
  • Wills and Estate Planning: 25 cents per $1 raised
  • Capital Campaign and Major Gifts: 5-10 cents per $1 raised

I think, based on those parameters, that NYCB is in a reasonable ratio of approx 20 percent of public support expenses to revenue raised. I say that assuming that the NYCB Development Department's staff (about 17 people) salaries and benefits are included in that expense line item in the financials. If it is not, then we have a completely different story.

#19 Amy Reusch

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 05:59 PM

Footnote regarding ballet companies and profit... I have been given to understand that two dance companies operated outside the non-profit club... Perhaps not ballet but not so very far off: the Trocks and Denishawn.

#20 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 04:37 PM

Back to the topic of Premieres, new ballets, etc. This is a link to a video interview with Maria Korowsky (about 18 minutes) where she makes clear the importance of working with choreographers when they create new work

#21 Eileen

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 05:12 AM

Back to the topic of Premieres, new ballets, etc. This is a link to a video interview with Maria Korowsky (about 18 minutes) where she makes clear the importance of working with choreographers when they create new work


That was a fascinating interview, Maria is one of my favorite principals in the company and I try to catch her dancing whenever I can. I can see exactly what you are saying - that doing new choreography is very important to the dancers.

But - and I will chance taking an unpopular position - the importance of new works to the dancers is not relevant to my argument. Which is that too many of the new works are not interesting to the audience and discourage the audience from attending premieres. I am sure there is an audience for premieres, but they are not of the same appeal as other, better ballets. I loved Chris Wheeldon's Carousel, but his Estancia was simply, grotesque to me. He has diluted his brand. He's a 3 out of 5 choreographer. I look forward to seeing Mercurial Manouvers (sp?) which I have never seen. There's a lot of Wheeldon that is great - but not everything. With a $6 million deficit, I doubt that the dancers are willing to cut their pay to help the company reduce the deficit. Like me, Maria and all the dancers want everything. I want everything, but I trim my sails to the winds. Meaning I buy what I can afford. It is not enough to say new work is important - the question is how much new work and how many fol-de-rols like the Calatrava designs. It's not just the dancers' opinions that are to be considered. Ultimately, it's what the paying public will pay to see.

How to pay down the deficit? This is the issue. Naturally the dancers want new works choreographed on them, the audience wants $15 tickets, and the sponsors want their names on the building. The company can't afford everything for everybody.

I've brought our discussion to the attention of Dan Wakin - let's see if he's interested in the topic or some aspect of the topic. I am particularly interested in whether having 5 premieres in one season is absolutely essential to the company and whether the 5 premieres are contributing to the deficit, and how would you determine that?

#22 E Johnson

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 06:38 AM

Purely anecdotally, the house has in my experience been pretty full and excited for most recent premieres I've seen -- particualrly Seven Deadly Sins. The problem is i don't think a lot of that buzz or attendance transfers to the Company as a whole, for a variety of reasons. I'd like to assume this is something the company tracks for its own purposes, but i doubt they'd share it. To me part of the expense of those premieres could be considered marketing, getting new people in the door who might become long term fans.


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