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Royal Patronage in the 21st Century


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#1 Jayne

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 03:17 PM

Over ten years ago, Ballet Alert! had a thread regarding Princess Margaret's patronage of the Royal Ballet.

The Queen of Denmark regularly attends RDB performances, and even designs sets for RDB, including their latest Nutcracker set.

In the 21st century, what companies have Royal Patronage? What is involved? Just a donation? Direct fundraising? Hosting private dinners to encourage donations?

How much of a "boost" does royal patronage provide? Do they ever step over the boundaries and try to influence casting or programming?

#2 mussel

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 03:50 PM

Didn't English National Ballet list Princess Di as their patron? As many consider the Kennedys as the unofficial American royalty, Jackie O was strong supporter of ABT and she's listed as Honorary Chairman and HC Emeritus after her passing.

I think the biggest boost of royal patronage is the granting of royal charter, it's like the royal seal of approval. Royal Ballet sounds much more impressive than Vic-Wells Ballet. I am wondering why royal charter was granted to Royal Winnipeg Ballet, a regional company, but not to the much bigger and higher profile National Ballet of Canada, imaginge Royal Ballet of Canada. Similar situation with Royal New Zealand Ballet but not Royal Australian Ballet.

And if Congress granted ABT the title America's National Ballet, would BOTUS sound more impressive than ABT? Nah, it sounds too much like botox.

#3 California

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 04:06 PM

Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo lists Princess Caroline as its "president." Even if she doesn't donate money, her sponsorship must count for something in fund-raising.

http://www.balletsde...arlo.com/?lg=en

#4 kbarber

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 04:15 PM

I am wondering why royal charter was granted to Royal Winnipeg Ballet, a regional company, but not to the much bigger and higher profile National Ballet of Canada, imaginge Royal Ballet of Canada. Similar situation with Royal New Zealand Ballet but not Royal Australian Ballet.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is older than the National Ballet of Canada, having been founded in 1938 as opposed to the NBOC in 1951. So it was much more established in 1955 when it asked for and received a royal charter- one year BEFORE the Royal Ballet, it bears pointing out.
As for the Australians, I think there are a lot more republicans in Australian than in NZ so "Royal" might not go over so well! RNZB did not become royal till 1984.

#5 Jayne

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Posted 13 March 2013 - 08:30 PM

There are quite few photos from the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's showing Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret attending the ballet with their parents. I have read that Queen Elizabeth (royal consort) was on friendly terms with Frederick Ashton. Here is a video from 1959 at the RB:

http://www.britishpa...query/Elizabeth

And for the 100th Birthday bash:
http://news.bbc.co.u...news/865646.stm

I do think the "royal" patent adds some gravitas to the company's recognition for tourists, etc. Was the NBC originally called Toronto Ballet?

Google is really amazing, one quick search and I found all of Prince Charles' 400 charities. He is patron of the following ballet companies:

Scottish Ballet (starting 2009)
Birmingham Royal Ballet (starting 2003)
Global Board of the Mariinsky Theatre (starting 1999)
Royal Ballet (starting 2003, currently president)

In addition, there are quite a few other cultural institutions. I think it's great that he's willing to take this on, with 400 charities - how exactly does his patronage help? Is he spreading himself too thin?

I'd love to see the Duchess of Cambridge take on the ENB patronage and host some fundraising events. I know she has a bairn on the way, but ENB has taken a major funding cut, and some star quality help would be great for them.

How does it work at Dutch National Ballet? Do any of the Spanish companies have royal patronage? I would think adding ballet and actively participating in fundraising outreach would only help burnish the royal reputations, as well as helping the companies' bottom lines.

#6 kbarber

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 04:30 AM

I do think the "royal" patent adds some gravitas to the company's recognition for tourists, etc. Was the NBC originally called Toronto Ballet?
.


The National Ballet of Canada was originally called the National Ballet Company. Never the Toronto Ballet. Celia Franca's vision was always for it to be Canada's national company.

#7 kbarber

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 04:31 AM

Being a "Royal" ballet certainly hasn't helped the Royal Ballet of Flanders much!

#8 mussel

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 09:10 AM


I am wondering why royal charter was granted to Royal Winnipeg Ballet, a regional company, but not to the much bigger and higher profile National Ballet of Canada, imaginge Royal Ballet of Canada. Similar situation with Royal New Zealand Ballet but not Royal Australian Ballet.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is older than the National Ballet of Canada, having been founded in 1938 as opposed to the NBOC in 1951. So it was much more established in 1955 when it asked for and received a royal charter- one year BEFORE the Royal Ballet, it bears pointing out.
As for the Australians, I think there are a lot more republicans in Australian than in NZ so "Royal" might not go over so well! RNZB did not become royal till 1984.


Fascinating that RWB received its royal charter before RB did, and it's older than City Ballet.

I can see that a royal charter could be a baggage. Several American institutions, i.e. Columbia, William & Mary, received their royal charter before the American Revolution but they don't publicise it. Several Hong Kong royal charter holders like Royal HK Police and Royal HK Jockey Club dropped the "royal" when HK reverted to China in 1997 and decided not to join the Commonwealth.

#9 sandik

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 10:41 AM


I do think the "royal" patent adds some gravitas to the company's recognition for tourists, etc. Was the NBC originally called Toronto Ballet?
.


The National Ballet of Canada was originally called the National Ballet Company. Never the Toronto Ballet. Celia Franca's vision was always for it to be Canada's national company.


And there's been a great deal of discussion, on and off, about what it actually means to be "Canada's ballet company." Out on the west coast, audiences in BC see the Winnipeg more often than they see the National -- when the National does get this far west, there is almost always some commentary in the press about whether they fulfill their "national" responsibilities.

We see a little of the same thing with American Ballet Theater, which got its "American" title with the State Department-sponsored tours in the 1950s, but since they don't promote themselves as "America's company" when they tour internally, there isn't the same level of concern.

(A tangent -- I wanted to double-check the date that Ballet Theater added "American" to its name, and so looked at the company website. The short history on the site (six paragraphs) didn't say anything about it -- I had to look at the Wikipedia entry to get the actual date (1957). I have a great deal of respect for Wikipedia, but it makes me sad to realize that they take more care with ABT's history online than the company does.)

#10 kbarber

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 11:25 AM

WEll the NBOC does try to go out to the west coast every other year. With touring being a money-losing proposition, it's all well and good to talk about "national responsibilities" but unless someone ponies up the cash, how are those responsibilities to be fulfilled? The NBOC has 120 dancers, musicians, and ballet staff and is located over 4000 km from Vancouver.
The RWB has 27 dancers and does not travel with its own orchestra; it is located 2200 km from Vancouver.

#11 sandik

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 10:27 AM

WEll the NBOC does try to go out to the west coast every other year. With touring being a money-losing proposition, it's all well and good to talk about "national responsibilities" but unless someone ponies up the cash, how are those responsibilities to be fulfilled?


And that is the hard question. I know that the local commentary often talks about the distribution of public funds when this topic comes up -- in general the west feels that the east gets an unequal share of public resources across the boards, not just in the arts, so this conversation sits in a more complicated context. NBC has tried a few different strategies to make touring more cost effective (traveling without musicians, sending smaller groups in a limited repertory) which have helped with some of the burden, but there still doesn't seem to be a popular solution.

The RWB has 27 dancers and does not travel with its own orchestra; it is located 2200 km from Vancouver.


Alongside this difference is their company culture -- the RWB spends much more time on the road every year, and has for most of its history. The National is a much less peripatetic company.

#12 Jayne

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 11:20 AM

NBC has lost some national funding in budget cuts, yet it managed to travel to LA and DC with "Alice", but not the west coast of Canada. Maybe they should change their names to the Eastern Ballet of Canada.

#13 California

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 11:48 AM

NBC has lost some national funding in budget cuts, yet it managed to travel to LA and DC with "Alice", but not the west coast of Canada. Maybe they should change their names to the Eastern Ballet of Canada.


I don't know about support for the Kennedy Center visit, but doesn't Glorya Kaufman underwrite rather generously the dance series in LA?
http://www.musiccent...-Kaufman-Dance/

#14 kbarber

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 11:57 AM

RWB has to be peripatetic. With a home population of 600,000 people in Winnipeg that only supports 5 performances each of 4 programs in a year, it couldn't survive otherwise. The NBOC was plenty peripatetic earlier on when the government supported their touring.

NBC has lost some national funding in budget cuts, yet it managed to travel to LA and DC with "Alice", but not the west coast of Canada. Maybe they should change their names to the Eastern Ballet of Canada.


The NBOC was invited to LA and DC by the theatres there, and had to do major fundraising to get there. Is the theatre in Vancouver inviting them? At a time when the NBOC actually has access to the production (ie when it's not in London with its co-producer the Royal Ballet)? For a run of 10 performances, with ticket sales ensured by being part of the subscription package for the theatre, as was the case with the Kennedy Center and in LA? Before we indulge in Toronto-bashing, it would be good to be in possession of all the facts and realities. Isn't it blaming the victim to criticize the NBOC for not being able to travel across this huge underpopulated country more often?
The NBOC was in Vancouver in 2011. I hardly think it deserves to be called the Eastern Ballet of Canada. It happens to be located in Toronto so that is where most of its performances are given. If it were located in Vancouver, do you think it would be touring to Toronto every year?
The Royal Ballet doesn't perform AT ALL in the UK outside of London, in a much smaller, more densely populated country, with much higher subsidies.

#15 mussel

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 02:51 PM

We see a little of the same thing with American Ballet Theater, which got its "American" title with the State Department-sponsored tours in the 1950s, but since they don't promote themselves as "America's company" when they tour internally, there isn't the same level of concern.

(A tangent -- I wanted to double-check the date that Ballet Theater added "American" to its name, and so looked at the company website. The short history on the site (six paragraphs) didn't say anything about it -- I had to look at the Wikipedia entry to get the actual date (1957). I have a great deal of respect for Wikipedia, but it makes me sad to realize that they take more care with ABT's history online than the company does.)


My understanding is that "American" was added to Ballet Theater as a condition for fundings of overseas tours. During the cold war, Soviet used Kirov and Bolshoi tours as part of its PR campaign, so the State Dept. countered the Soviet with NYCB and BT, while there's no ambiguity that NYCB was an American company it's less apparent with Ballet Theater, so "American" was added to make sure that overseas audience knew it's an American company.


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