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Transitioning from Villella to Lopez in 2012-2013.-- developments, challenges, opportunties


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#61 bart

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 02:01 PM

Not sure if this is the right place for this, but there is an article in the Miami Herald stating the company has raised $3 million. It certainly is refreshing to hear some good news after the mess that this past year has been. Maybe some of this money is from the donors who were withholding funds until Edward left, as mentioned in the Miami Herald previously.

http://www.miamihera...t-troubled.html

This is precisely the "right place" for your news, brokenwing. Thank you so much.

A reminder to everyone: We have a separate thread to discuss artistic and performance issues involvling the new season. It's here:
http://balletalert.i...12-2013-season/


It's hard to know what "new donations" means in the context of the Herald article. How nice if it included a substantial number of new DONORS as well.. It also would be nice to get an idea of whether this $3 million was given by a handful of the super-rich, or whether it also includes a return to confidence among the small-to-medium donor group as well. All, I assume, will be revealed eventually. In the meantime, it seems best to go with the positive spin given to things by Michael Kaiser:

“It’s not that there are no financial issues, but we have really turned a corner,” Kaiser said. “People are getting optimistic again.”

Lets hope this trend continues.

#62 brokenwing

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 06:50 PM

Another bigger article in the Herald, this time about the hiring of a new executive director: The article is filled with encouraging quotes from Kaiser and the idea, from Lopez, of a potential Balanchine festival that I'd be eager to hear more details of.

http://www.miamihera...s-revival.html#

#63 Helene

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 11:34 PM

I think it's remarkable that Kaiser has made a new opportunity for someone who has been in a key role at the Kennedy Center and is helping him to grow his career.

#64 Jack Reed

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 12:54 PM

...
It's hard to know what "new donations" means in the context of the Herald article.


FWIW, I think the newer article does say that the contributions were

most from people who had given before



I think it's remarkable that Kaiser has made a new opportunity for someone who has been in a key role at the Kennedy Center and is helping him to grow his career.


I can always quibble, so I will: Kaiser seems to me to have made such a career of doing "remarkable" things, this seems not so remarkable! Commendable, yes, and boding very well for MCB's future. (What it might mean for the Kennedy Center's future doesn't bother me much, as it is a Kaiser move. And Hagerty has 25 subordinates from which to promote a replacement. We know how ballet company ranks think, don't we?...)

Speaking of which future, that Balanchine festival not only encourages this Balanchine addict, but I think it may show Kaiser's hand already: Festivals have visibility, or are easier to make visible, than, say, scattering your Balanchine repertory across the calendar - like MCB's current season. (This Chicagoan is going down to see their Nutcracker again this year, but that's a story for the other thread bart reminds us of.)

#65 Buddy

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 01:57 PM

This new article about the future of the MCB seems very encouraging.

I can only wish the MCB all the best of successes. I personally have made detour stops on almost all my latest returns to Europe from California primarily to see the company.

With all the back and forth I still have a great fondness for Edward. I've chatted with him, I've attended many of his pre-performance talks and I tend to believe Bart who at his level headed best at fairness to all sides still feels that MCB is what it is because of Edward.

I saw a bunch of the now famous Paris performances and the event that I probably enjoyed the most was one of the open rehearsals. It was attended in the main theater by a large audience. I think that Edward won many hearts with his artistic sincerity and his expression of love for his dancers and his art. He seemed like a loving father and the dancers seemed to be having the time of their lives !

There has been some citing of possible 'personality variables' in Edward. There are indeed at least two sides to any debate, it seems. Still I think that Edward should never be forgotten and that he should always remain a proud and integral part of the company in spirit, memory and hopefully even in future participation. I remember at the beginning of the turnover someone proposed a statue of Edward. This would seem like a fine gesture.

Finally not ever be forgotten are the amazing dancers who have 'rolled with the punches' over the years. They have remained among the very best in the world.

Again, I hope that the company enjoys a wonderful future, but never forgets the man who probably made it all possible.

#66 Jack Reed

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 03:19 PM

Again, I hope that the company enjoys a wonderful future, but never forgets the man who probably made it all possible.


I think once they got behind him at the beginning, it was not merely possible, it was inevitable that MCB became - in my book - one of the great companies, not only of the USA, but of the world. That's my estimate of him. I envy you seeing those Paris performances, Buddy - I saw the week in New York when they got some of the appreciation they deserved, bringing some of the dancers to the point of tears, as Joan Acocella reported in The New Yorker. I expected that. I know the New York audience, and how tough and experienced it is, and that's partly why I was there, to be part of a proper appreciation of MCB - the main reason being the dancing and what they dance. I know I wish them the best - even at the level of my unconscious: A (symbolic) fantasy came as I read your remarks, of some time in the not-too-distant future when Lopez and Villella stroll out onto the stage, arm in arm, and get some of the appreciation they deserve, too.

#67 Buddy

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 03:44 PM

A fantasy came as I read your remarks, of some time in the not-too-distant future when Lopez and Villella stroll out onto the stage, arm in arm, and get some of the appreciation they deserve, too.


Yes, that would be really nice, Jack.

#68 Quiggin

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 04:23 PM

From Palm Beach Daily News -
http://www.palmbeach...-powerho/nSMp9/

The new strategic plan, due at the end of the year, will include several recommendation aimed at putting the company on track, such as more large-scale artistic projects, increased marketing that focuses on building the ballet’s reputation rather than selling tickets, stronger community outreach and more diversified fundraising.

Expect more attention to be paid to Palm Beach. Eight new members from Palm Beach County have been recruited to the company’s 34-member board since October 2011.

“We must increase the level of activity in Palm Beach,” Kaiser said. “We need more board members who can have input into what activities would be meaningful.”


These comments seem a bit mysterious, at least to someone who has never been on a board: Building the ballet's reputation rather than selling tickets; more attention paid to Palm Beach; and more board members' input on what activities would be meaningful. Is the artistic leadership shifting to the board level?

#69 Helene

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 04:43 PM

About focusing on the reputation, isn't that what Villella was attempting to do? He was lambasted for spending the money that wasn't there. If the new admin can bring in the money to finance it, it's too bad it couldn't have happened when Villella was there.

About West Palm Beach, MCB performs almost all of its programs in three cities: Miami, West Palm Beach, and Ft. Lauderdale. The focus has been on Miami, since the studios, school, and admin are located there. (I'm not sure when there was live music if it was exclusive to Miami.) Although not everyone in WPB is wealthy, there are beaucoup bucks to be found, an untapped resource. Of course, to tap into those dollars, donors have to feel that WPB is central to the company, not a stepchild or charity case.

It's a great opportunity to get in at the beginning of the "new" MCB.

#70 Jack Reed

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 04:47 PM

Replying to Quiggin, "increased marketing that focuses on building the ballet’s reputation rather than selling tickets" might refer to getting people with some civic pride or something to make contributions, regardless of their own interest in performing arts, for example, at one time, countering the reputation engendered by the "Miami Vice" television program. (Not the two words some local residents want linked in the public's mind.)

There seems to be a proportion, that contributions and ticket sales each provide about half the budget, otherwise the company, whatever it is, seems to have a problem.

I've never been on a board either, but in some discussions among contributors I've been rhapsodizing about what watching ballet can do for you when I've been cut short: You're talking about boosting ticket sales, we're talking about getting contributors. This stuns me, since I think of some people who enjoy ballet as potential contributors, so the two groups aren't exclusive in my mind. But companies who find an audience don't automatically find contributors, although popularity can help to convince some potential donors.

#71 Helene

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 05:02 PM

The focus for ballet, especially, is on creating younger audiences. (I agree and would rather see a house full of interested people who've paid less than premium prices, but a lot of the impetus seems to be in response to studies that extrapolated that the graying audience would die off, and then there would be nobody.) Ballet, more than opera, for example, is an nart that people appreciate when they're young, on the whole when they have the least money. Like most performing arts, people tend to "drop out" for a while while they raise families, unless they have lots of money for nannies and babysitters, plus the energy to get out. People without a lot of money tend to give modest, regular amounts when they're older.

I think of growing an audience as a combination of lead-generation and investment, but investment in the art form. The young college and high school kids might not be returnees for years. They might not even live in the same city, and could fill another company's coffers. Hopefully, it all balances out in the end.

#72 Jack Reed

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 07:58 PM

... If the new admin can bring in the money to finance it, it's too bad it couldn't have happened when Villella was there.

... MCB performs almost all of its programs in three cities: Miami, West Palm Beach, and Ft. Lauderdale. The focus has been on Miami, since the studios, school, and admin are located there. (I'm not sure when there was live music if it was exclusive to Miami.) Although not everyone in WPB is wealthy, there are beaucoup bucks to be found, an untapped resource. Of course, to tap into those dollars, donors have to feel that WPB is central to the company, not a stepchild or charity case.
...


"Too bad"? I think it's a crying shame.

But as to where the focus was, I'm not sure I understand. The four repertory programs have each been given three times in Miami Beach (or more recently, Miami), four times in Fort Lauderdale, and five times in West Palm Beach*; The Nutcracker has been discontinued in WPB in recent years, though.

(I can't imagine why. A couple of years ago, their publicity for it included the line, "More snow." With zingers like that, you'd think the south Florida audience would trample the ushers piling in. Sorry.)

(Granted, ticket sales are not contributions.)

On the other hand, IIRC, Villella said in exasperation one evening during his pre-performance remarks something to the effect that, Miami Beach has always been generous; as for Miami, we carry their name but they never gave us anything. (The studios are actually in Miami Beach, just a few blocks away from the Jackie Gleason Theater where they danced at the time.)

*Those were the days. It used to be true, but lately there are four performances there of each program.

Edited by Jack Reed, 27 September 2012 - 04:16 AM.


#73 Helene

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 09:30 PM

If you look at the schedule, on paper all three cities look relatively equal -- Miami gets more openings, but not by much -- but in forging an international reputation, MCB 〓Miami. (My apologies for not understanding that Miami Beach isn't a section of Miami.) It's not South Florida Ballet. Most of the significant press coverage comes from the "Miami Herald." So the association is there, so how does the prestige go to West Palm Beach or Ft. Lauderdale donors?

#74 Quiggin

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 11:25 PM

About focusing on the reputation, isn't that what Villella was attempting to do?


Yes, this is rather bizarre - in that they've had a great reputation for the last 15 years. Do they want ignore their legacy and start from scratch?

I really was wondering about the influence of the new donors - from Palm Beach or wherever - and if the position of artistic director has been weakened. (In New York terms, is Palm Beach the equivalent of the Upper East Side and Miami Beach Soho or Chelsea?)

I don't know how you build up ballet audiences. In San Francisco the ballet seems to be financially secure and an important old money meeting spot, but as a result the content is not terribly adventurous. In the old days in New York there was great interest from the visual arts and literary communities - painters and poets - in City Ballet, a sort of association which continued to the end with Cunningham. Now there's an attempt at a fashion crossover at City Ballet - which might not be bad thing - Diaghilev had Chanel and Christian Berard, who mentored Dior and inspired the New Look, did the sets and costumes for the 1933 Mozartiana. Martins tried to involve painters in designing sets, but unfortunately picked the wrong artists - bombastic painters whose careers peaked in the 1980s.

#75 Jack Reed

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 04:15 AM

Thanks, Helene, I think I got it this time... How does WPB get to feel a company named "Miami" is their company? And Ft. Lauderdale is largely populated by people who declined to live in in Miami, I think.

This reminds me: There were times, when some of them were getting to know me, they asked me which county I lived in, expecting the answer to be, "Miami-Dade," "Broward," or "Palm Beach." When I answered "Cook" we had some fun: "Cook county? Where is that?" "In northeastern Illinois. The largest town in it is called Chicago." But geography is part of their thinking.

(I was was behind the times when I counted up the performances - the WPB number is just four now, but it used to be five of each repertory program. So Kaiser is right to notice that needs attention. But getting to this information just now required additional steps - one has to deal with an "on-line brochure" instead of getting more directly to a web page with the same content about the venues, dates and times of the performances, as in the past. Progress? Or not? Attention is needed here, too.)


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