abatt

ABT Met Contract Ends in 2015

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I don't see how moving to the Koch for the spring season could benefit ABT financially. The Koch has about 1,000 seats fewer than the Met. Most importantly, the Met has considerably more orchestra seats than the Koch, and that is where the big money seats are. In addition, the high rollers enjoy having their own little parterre boxes away from the masses.

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When the National Ballet of Canada moved from the O'Keefe/Hummingbird/Sony Centre (3,200 seats) to the Four Seasons Centre (2,070 seats) it accommodated its subscriber base by increasing its total number of performances. The company had to deal with a significant decrease in available orchestra seats also, but the move hasn't bankrupted the National Ballet, so obviously it can be made to work.

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I don't see how moving to the Koch for the spring season could benefit ABT financially. The Koch has about 1,000 seats fewer than the Met. Most importantly, the Met has considerably more orchestra seats than the Koch, and that is where the big money seats are. In addition, the high rollers enjoy having their own little parterre boxes away from the masses.

The stage at the venue formerly known as the State Theater is also smaller than that at the Met, meaning that the sets for many of ABT's productions might not be usable.

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ABT spends quite a bit of time on the road, so its sets have been made to fit into a variety of venues.

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I imagine the bottom line for all this is costs -- I have no idea what they pay at the Met for the total package (rental, stagehands, front of house, etc) and how much they might have to pay at the Formerly Known as the State Theater (FKat State Theater?), but I am sure they've got multiple contracts, with early cancellation fees...

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I think they're looking at a possible move for after the current contract; I don't think they're planning to get out early. They'll have some practice with the current state of affairs at FKA State Theater by running their fall shows there instead of City Center in the meantime.

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If ABT were to present its season at the Koch after NYCB, that would mean that ABT's season would end in early August. I don't think that would be a welcome change for ABT. In fact, I remember that when the Met's former manager, Volpe, extended the Met opera season into late May for a few years, McKenzie gave an interview saying that he did not like that fact the late ending opera season would push that ABT season to end in late July. If that's the case, there is no way he would appreciate the ABT season ending in early August.

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Presumably ABT could break up its usual spring-summer season into two parts. A 'spring' season (March-April) following NYCB's winter season, and a 'summer' season (June-July) after NYCB's spring season. I would think that for New Yorkers having access to live ballet year-round would be a great boon. Such a schedule might also be easier on ABT's corps de ballet.

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ABT spends quite a bit of time on the road, so its sets have been made to fit into a variety of venues.

True, but the VFKATST has an unusually wide, relatively shallow stage. This will impact the choreography of the story ballets as well as the sets. (Otherwise, we would probably be seeing at least one full-length ballet this fall.)

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I imagine the bottom line for all this is costs -- I have no idea what they pay at the Met for the total package (rental, stagehands, front of house, etc) and how much they might have to pay at the Formerly Known as the State Theater (FKat State Theater?), but I am sure they've got multiple contracts, with early cancellation fees...

I believe, although I am not 100% sure, Met takes 30% of box office receipts, it covers everything except overtimes. Met & ABT's 990 filings seem to be consistent with the figure.

ABT spends quite a bit of time on the road, so its sets have been made to fit into a variety of venues.

True, but the VFKATST has an unusually wide, relatively shallow stage. This will impact the choreography of the story ballets as well as the sets. (Otherwise, we would probably be seeing at least one full-length ballet this fall.)

The fall season was created specifically for the mixed reps one-acters, it's never about full-length ballets.

Me thinks ABT will stay put at the Met. ABT will probably use State Theater as leverage to get better terms from the Met.

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It would make sense they'd try to leverage the situation, but I think The Powers That Be at the Met can do ABT's math as well as ABT can, and if they'll lose more money by leaving the Met, the Met will know that going into negotiations.

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Well, what would the Met do with all those weeks if ABT decamped? It's an equation that can work two ways.

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I'm not sure they have the money to extend the Met season, as much as I miss the June Festival from the '70's, but for a while they had visiting companies come in a few weeks at a time. In the early '80's I remember seeing the Royal Ballet, Netherlands Dance Theatre, and a Japanese Kabuki company, and I think Paris Opera Ballet may have been there one summer.

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Yes, the POB performed at the Met; Manuel Legris was made an étoile on its stage. Lots of companies visited in the 1980s: the Kirov, Royal Danish Ballet, Australian Ballet, London Festival Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, among others. (For whatever reason, when the Bolshoi visited in 1979 and 1990 they performed at the State Theater.)

In the spring of 1990 Anna Kisselgoff even wrote a piece in the NYT that began: "Imagine the unimaginable – the Metropolitan Opera House in the summer without companies like the Royal Ballet from Britain, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Netherlands Dance Theater, the London Festival Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, Roland Petit's National Ballet of Marseilles and so on." http://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/15/arts/dance-view-ballet-at-the-met-a-british-bundle-of-fresh-ideas.html

I really miss those days.

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When the National Ballet of Canada moved from the O'Keefe/Hummingbird/Sony Centre (3,200 seats) to the Four Seasons Centre (2,070 seats) it accommodated its subscriber base by increasing its total number of performances. The company had to deal with a significant decrease in available orchestra seats also, but the move hasn't bankrupted the National Ballet, so obviously it can be made to work.

The NBOC very rarely sold out (or anywhere near it) its former venue, except for Nutcracker, and it rarely sells out the Four Seasons Centre (except for Nutcracker and things like Cinderella, Alice, etc.). For most programs, it offers the same 7 performances it always did. They made up for lost revenue in the orchestra seats by upping the ticket prices significantly.

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There was a lot of donor money floating around during the 1980s, so there was capital for these expensive tours. The money for presenting arts tours seems much harder to come by now.

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There also used to be a lot more government and non-profit money around. Those Royal Ballet tours were paid for partly by the British Council. However, corporate money was also an important factor. The company was forced to cancel its U.S. tour in 1990 when Barclays Bank balked.

The NBOC very rarely sold out (or anywhere near it) its former venue, except for Nutcracker, and it rarely sells out the Four Seasons Centre (except for Nutcracker and things like Cinderella, Alice, etc.). For most programs, it offers the same 7 performances it always did. They made up for lost revenue in the orchestra seats by upping the ticket prices significantly.

I was relying on an old article from the International Journal of Arts Management.

The Hummingbird Centre has 3,200 seats and played host to 68 performances in the 2005 season. The new venue has 2,000 seats and will require 83 annual performances. If one excludes performances presented outside of Toronto (as part of the company's tours or its Community Outreach program), the question becomes: how will the company be able to match the revenues generated at its previous home venue?

[Kevin] Garland's plan of attack in this regard can be summarized in a single word: increase. The number of performances will be increased from 68 to 83, which explains the $1.4 million annual increase in fixed costs.

Apparently a 50% increase in ticket prices was part of the plan all along. If the company found that it had overestimated ticket demand, then naturally it made little sense to give that many performances. The current total of 77 performances in Toronto (if I've counted correctly), including 23 of The Nutcracker, falls in between the old Hummingbird total and the initial Four Seasons projection. ABT also seldom sells out the Met, so it's entirely possible that its audience could fit into a smaller venue without increasing dramatically its number of performances. But what makes very little sense to me is ABT and NYCB continuing to compete head-to-head when neither is filling up their venue.

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the silver lining for NBoC is more opportunities for dancers in leading roles. 68 vs 83 performances means an extra 15 performances!

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