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ABT scrapping Stravinsky program at MET


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#1 sneds

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Posted 20 December 2001 - 09:21 AM

Hi!
I'm sure the link to this NYTimes article will be posted when the links section is updated, but I thought the subject deserved some discussion.

Apparently ABT will not perform its Stravinsky program, which includes "Rite of Spring" and "Firebird", during the 2002 MET season due to financial concerns. According to the article, ticket sales were down 10% at City Center and the City Center season gala proceeds were 20% less than expected. Wallace Chappell, the executive director is quoted as saying:
"We're looking at the potential of a 5 to 10 percent problem on a $30 million budget."

It's interesting to hear this news, after reading about the unexpectedly large audiences at the NYCB Nutcracker. The article does indicate the ABT's $$$ problems predate Sept. 11, which is no surprise given the problems at ABT over the past year. I also wonder if ABT's more limited, all on-tour Nutcracker season isn't a small part of the problem. Right off the bat, a company takes in less when they tour because of transportation and shipping costs.

Anyway, I am curious about the "damage control" that will be necessary after this MET season change. Subscription tickets have already been sold, which leads to an interesting dilemma. While the brochures always warn that the programs may change, since a whole night's worth of ballets is now changed, will ABT have to permit refunds or exchanges?? People may well have bought a suscription package to see the Stravinsky ballets. Not to mention that the casting will probably have to be completely revamped-one more reason not to release casting so many months in advance (I think NYCB's one week in advance policy is the best way to go, BTW)
Any comments, remarks etc.?
Kate

#2 Calliope

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Posted 20 December 2001 - 10:00 AM

I don't think it's fair to compare NYCB's Nutcracker attendance, as that audience consists of a lot of people who only go to see the holiday performance.
I don't think many people will notice the change. It was only offered on one subscription and not heavily advertised. ABT tends to rely more on the full lenghts than they do the theme nights, especially when going up against NYCB at that time (which is I believe one of the reasons the City Center season was created ?)
NYCB has also been feeling the effects of post Sept. 11th charitable donations. They're Nutcracker Family Matinee performance attendance was off and even Nutcracker sales are slightly down from last year. When I say that, the seats have been filling, but many more of the "discounted specials" have been used this year than in the past (student, Am Ex. etc...)
It's almost inevitable. I was surprised at the amount that ABT asked for in relief though, $50 million. ouch.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 20 December 2001 - 11:03 AM

Calliope, I think you're a speed reader smile.gif The whole fund is $50 million; ABT has put in for a share.

I agree with Calliope that ABT subscribers are unlikely to be overly upset by this. If they'd cut a new full-length, which would have been on more subscriptions, it would have been more difficult.

I'm sorry to see a new program be dropped, but I can understand the need. The arts in NYC are hurting -- the long-term effects of 9/11 aren't yet clear. The fact that so many financial companies moving to the 'burbs has a practical effect: all of those young singles with disposable income aren't downtown any more. Then there's the return to home and hearth (video, DVD and other home entertainment equipment sales are up, according to last night's news), the switch many philanthropists have made from anything else to 9/11-related activities -- it's going to be hard.

#4 Calliope

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Posted 20 December 2001 - 11:07 AM

oops... I read the article on the train this morning, it was a bumpy ride !

#5 vagansmom

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Posted 20 December 2001 - 11:15 AM

How many of you have received phone calls from ABT asking you to buy a series subscription right now? I received a call this week, was told that they're calling everyone who ordered through the Internet last season because that option is no longer available. While I appreciated the call (although she called me at work) because I learned the spring schedule, it also seemed evident that ABT is feeling pressured to get some money flowing immediately.

#6 Dale

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Posted 20 December 2001 - 11:30 AM

ABT called a friend of mine the first week in October to renew, pretty early to set in stone what you'll be doing almost a year in advance. However, it is something sports has done for awhile. Teams often ask season ticket holders to renew right after the last season ends.

I think the situation in New York, and around the country, is going to force institutions to look for creative ways to raise money and keep/gain an audience (I hope). I do think some corporations and institutions blame 9/11 for shoddy business practices or poor creative choices -- problems they might have had before September.

#7 sneds

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Posted 20 December 2001 - 11:34 AM

Hi!
Thanks for the comments Calliope, Alexandra and Vagansmom! I hadn't realized that the Stravinsky ballets were only on obe subscription series. I do get the subscription brochures, but as I live 3+ hours from NYC, I spend most of my time looking at the pictures smile.gif


NYCB doesn't seem to be doing too badly-the Nutracker is completely sold-out for the next 10 days, except for tomorrow night. Even if this includes some discounts, it's still means $$$ for NYCB. However, if $$ is a bit tighter, could the Diamond Project be delayed for a year or more-or is the money for that project pretty much guarenteed?
Kate

#8 Calliope

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Posted 20 December 2001 - 12:00 PM

They already have a lock on the funds for Diamond Project frown.gif
They have set up different programs to pay for different things, so they have a variety of sponsors.
Both ABT and NYCB do extensive calling. NYCB always has job listings for telemarketers, so I don't think the practice is new.

#9 liebs

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Posted 20 December 2001 - 12:00 PM

It's too bad that ABT has to cancel anything but I applaud what seems to be a good business decision. I think this cancellation will be unlikely to affect their ticket sales, so there will be little loss of income while achieving some cost savings.

On a personal note, the loss of a Glen Tetley ballet hardly seems a tragedy to me.

#10 Natalia

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Posted 20 December 2001 - 12:18 PM

In light of the general downward trend in public spending for the arts, it is all the more remarkable how the Kirov Ballet season at the Kennedy Center was practically sold out even before tix became available to the general public on Dec 13! My understanding is that they are now 100% sold out. Amazing, in these tough times when folks are holding on to precious cash and think twice before purchasing tickets to such events.

#11 sneds

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Posted 20 December 2001 - 02:06 PM

Hi!
Calliope..I didn't know that NYCB did a lot of telemarketing. I've attended at least several performances a year for the past six or so years and have been a guild member for the last year. However, other than the normal calls to confirm tickets, I've never gotten a call from NYCB (or ABT for that matter). It may be due to the fact that I live in PA, but it can't be much more expensive to call me than someone who lives in NJ or NY outside the city.
The MET, however, is a different issue...
Kate


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