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Everything posted by Stecyk

  1. The harsh reality is that the affected ballet dancers don't care what you, I, or any other Ballet Alert member thinks about the stupidity or intelligence of France's government. At present, their backs are against the wall. When they leave ballet and start new careers, they are often paid poorly because they are starting from the bottom. As highlighted by Mr. Carniato, he needs every extra dollar to supplement his new earnings to help make ends meet. Please see Prime Minister Édouard Philippe's quote, shown below, from the same Wall Street Journal article mentioned in the opening post.
  2. Indeed, this situation is challenging for the dancers. The article discusses Mr. Carniato, who is 41. Having danced from the age of 6, his body is beginning to fail him. He had hoped to retire next year and begin teaching. Salaries for new teachers, however, are just above minimum wage and are at about half his €2,500 month salary at POB. He was counting on his pension of about €1,000 to help make ends meet.
  3. The Wall Street Journal: "Macron’s Stiff Opposition in Pension Battle: Angry Ballerinas: In a tutu at 62? France wants to add 20 years to the age dancers can claim their retirement pay" (subscription required)
  4. Here's another article about the state of print magazines, one that was published by the New York Times on September 23, 2017 "The Not-So-Glossy Future of Magazines." The New York Times allows non-subscribers to view ten, I think, free articles per month.
  5. For those that might be interested in the health of print magazines, there's a good article in today's Financial Times "Battle against free digital content takes gloss off magazines." A subscription is required. The article contains a couple of interesting graphs. The future will certainly be challenging and interesting.
  6. Many different industries share similar business models. For example, the oil industry and pharmaceutical industry are very similar. High capital and high uncertainty. With regard to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, dirac got it right in a prior post. As far as the target audience, those that can afford and appreciate the product. Full stop.
  7. Estée Lauder is a prestige brand. If you go to the Estée Lauder website and look at its fragrances, I think you'll agree that the price points are rich for "typical" poor teenagers. And, when we go to ballet performances, most attendees are not poor teenagers. Indeed, many appear to be reasonably affluent, the very market that EL is targeting. Companies tend to pick spokespeople who are young, attractive, and well-spoken. It helps when they possess a strong media presence. Those affluent ballet goers appreciate having young, attractive, well-spoken people market goods and services to them.
  8. Well said, Helene. All these things cost money. One can look at pharmaceuticals too. The actual drug itself might be inexpensive. But that doesn't account for all the costs incurred to develop the drug. If you look at publicly traded companies, very few earn outrageous rates of return. When they do, they attract competition, which then destroys the excessive rate of return. The same applies to the fragrance industry. If excessive returns were being generated easily, venture capitalists would flock to the industry and new companies would be formed overnight. Scrappy companies happen all the time. And, it ain't happening. Consumer goods are notoriously difficult industries.
  9. For many people, even if ballet performances were free to attend, they would be overpriced, regardless of their actual cost of production. Cost of production is irrelevant to value. Which fragrance companies are earning excessive rates of return? If it is so outrageously profitable, then why isn't every company engaged in producing fragrances? Are new companies being formed right, left, and center to capture all these easy profits?
  10. It's unfortunate that some immediately assumed the worst. And, I should have contacted Alberta Ballet before making my first response. That would have saved some confusion and made this thread succinct. As far as the "ballet world" is concerned, Alberta Ballet talks to its stakeholders, which extends beyond the Ballet Alert "ballet world."
  11. That's helpful information volcanohunter. With respect to the eight more dancers, do you know if they perform the same number of performances. In other words, is it possible that Alberta Ballet has fewer dancers who dance more performances so that helps to explain the discrepancy? That speaks to the season duration part of Alberta Ballet's response. Or, are wages, because of higher living costs, higher at Alberta Ballet? I don't know the answers to my questions, but I know you're a passionate follower of ballet, so perhaps you might know.
  12. @kbarber, I sent you a private message dated December 5. I note that you haven't read it yet. I am just letting you know that you have unread mail. It's not important and definitely not urgent.
  13. I did receive a response. Because it's inappropriate to repost someone's email without permission, I will provide my quick take. As expected, Alberta Ballet does believe that the definition is subjective. In addition to number of dancers, they look at operating budgets, school affiliation, and season duration. While some of you might not be satisfied, others will understand. If you have ever run a company or been involved in a company at senior levels, you understand that it is a complex organization. For those that are balletomanes--many of those who participate in this forum--they will probably refer to the number of dancers. While those who are not balletomanes might take a broader view. As I said in a prior post, there is no one definition that we all can agree upon.
  14. Given that this question of company size has generated such interest, I have sent an email to Alberta Ballet asking them for a response. Let's wait and see what they write.
  15. Unfortunately, the forum is not the arbiter of marketing. Full stop. Moreover, if you read my comments carefully, I made no mention of students being counted as part of the company. I did, however, mention the school's staff. With regard to the size, I don't know the specifics. I have a "hunch" that when Alberta Ballet says it's the second largest company, it's referring to its total organization, including the School of Alberta Ballet staff. So if you were to count the number of employees, including dancers, you might find that Alberta Ballet is the second largest ballet company in Canada. I have the word "hunch" in quotes because it is a guess. I don't have data to support my hunch. I quickly tried to find annual reports for both companies without success. [emphasis added] And last, I said my explanation was a hunch, a possibility. I did not say my hunch was definitive.
  16. I disagree, which invalidates your statement. "Everyone" is a tough nut to crack.
  17. Hello sandik, I don't think it was an odd claim to make at all, and please allow me to explain why. Let's assume for this discussion that my "hunch" is correct. Being accountable for what I write, I don't want to be accused of creating alternative facts or fake news, so I want to have my assumptions clearly stated. If my hunch is wrong, which is entirely possible, then I, too, would want to know why they made their claim, knowing that there may well be an acceptable explanation. Many companies, especially commodity related companies, often refer to the "triple bottom line," which speaks to social, environmental, and financial considerations. As you probably know, Alberta's economy is dependent upon oil and gas. As companies develop resources, they are sensitive to all three “bottom lines.” Alberta Ballet wants to be a positive force in our society, touching as many people as possible. While most Albertans are familiar with the performing part of Alberta Ballet, fewer are familiar with the School of Alberta Ballet. Yet, it plays an important role because it provides a place to learn and develop for those students with an artistic talent in or enthusiasm for dance, even if only a few ever go on to a professional dancing career. As we know, ticket revenue pays for less than half of the operating costs of the Alberta Ballet. The remainder of funds come from donations and grants from governments, not-for-profit organizations, companies, and individuals. Looking at Alberta Ballet’s website, I see that Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, The City of Edmonton, The City of Calgary, Edmonton Arts Council, and Calgary Arts Development all provide support. Next, there are several commercial companies. Of course, there are many individuals who contribute. Alberta’s economy tends to be boom and bust. At present, we’re in the bust stage. Last I recall, Calgary’s unemployment is at a two-decade high. Edmonton employment picture is faring better. Calgary tends to be more business with professional staffs and head offices, while Edmonton tends to be more service and government focused. Alberta Ballet is competing for funding alongside other organizations. When companies make their investments in local communities, it’s important to know that their resources are being well spent. So, when considering the Alberta Ballet, they are not just looking at the number of dancers on the stage performing, but instead looking at the total impact that the company has on the community. This is somewhat similar to looking at icebergs—the size and importance isn’t determined solely by what is visible above water. Knowing that Alberta Ballet provides resources for children is an important consideration. Before we leave the topic of government funding, I should mention that different provinces have different priorities on supporting the arts. Quebec has a long and strong tradition of supporting its arts communities. Our last federal government made some remarks to the effect that ordinary people don’t care about the arts. That caused an uproar, especially in Quebec. Furthermore, in Canada, there are equalization payments to help “poorer” provinces. Quebec receives substantial funding. Consequently, there is sometimes friction in other parts of Canada. Stepping away from ballet companies, how would many of us determine the “biggest” airline? Is it the company with the most employees? Most planes, regardless of size? Perhaps the most seats? Most passenger airmiles flown? Largest geographic coverage? Most revenues? Most profits? Most satisfied customers? Or some other criteria? The point of raising these questions is to demonstrate that there isn’t one key metric that everyone agrees to for determining the “biggest.” If I were representing Alberta Ballet, I, too, would want to stress its importance to our community. Without community support, it’s dead.
  18. Thank you sandik. I'm glad you found the clip interesting. I found the information interesting because Alberta is so small and our population is much more biased toward sports than arts. So it is really a strong tribute to the women who started Alberta Ballet. And, I am impressed with the University of Calgary student Kim Larsen who created the video. With regard to the size, I don't know the specifics. I have a "hunch" that when Alberta Ballet says it's the second largest company, it's referring to its total organization, including the School of Alberta Ballet staff. So if you were to count the number of employees, including dancers, you might find that Alberta Ballet is the second largest ballet company in Canada. I have the word "hunch" in quotes because it is a guess. I don't have data to support my hunch. I quickly tried to find annual reports for both companies without success. When presented with statistical data, one should try to understand how the data was gathered and assembled. This past weekend, I was reading a blog post over at the Big Picture where I viewed a TED video titled "Mona Chalabi: 3 ways to spot a bad statistic." While I am not claiming Alberta Ballet's statistic is bad, I am saying that the video is a good reminder to always probe how data was arrived at and presented. Canada is a really small country. Speaking of statistics, I have often said that 80 percent of our population lived within 100 miles of the Canada US border. Yet, according to Statistics Canada, two-thirds live within a 100 kilometers (or about 62 miles) of the Canada US border. So my quick approximation is incorrect, although we used different distances. I used 100 miles versus StatsCan of 100 kilometers. Perhaps if StatsCan used a 100 miles, the percentage of population would climb somewhat. Alberta's two major cities Edmonton and Calgary, both of which have over a million people in the metropolitan areas, are beyond a 100 miles from the border. Our province's population is slightly greater than four million, or about 11 percent of Canada's population. Given Alberta's relative isolation from major metropolitan areas--such as greater Vancouver or the Toronto Montreal corridor--I am appreciative of Alberta Ballet's modest achievements.
  19. Thank you for your reply. The advertisers wouldn't be interested in those sections unless readers read them. And, as mentioned in my prior post, they have the hard data to support that readers do, in fact, read lifestyle articles. With precious resources so scarce these days in media, everything has a purpose. The Financial Times also has a lifestyle section. For example, how should or can wealthy people spend their affluence? What will afford them the most hedonistic pleasures? Even though "corporate types" tend to read WSJ for "hard core" business stuff, many read softer articles as well because those articles have direct relevance to their work lives or have relevance to their livers after hours. Interpersonal stuff, whether at work or at home, plays a large role. If we can learn to improve ourselves or help manage a difficult situation, so much the better. Moreover, I believe one presidential candidate once said, “Corporations are people, my friend.” So you see, it's all the same stuff. Speaking for myself, I always browse the lifestyle and health sections. Sometimes a quick suggestion can play a significant role in helping one navigate through life. When articles discuss negotiation or communication styles, particularly women versus men, I read with even more attention. Is there anything in the article that I can use? How can I communicate more effectively? What works and what doesn't? For most business positions and careers, it's the "soft" stuff that is important. With time and effort, most technical stuff can be learned. The soft stuff can be learned, too, but it requires more of a sustained effort. Some tigers can't change their stripes. While others are more chameleon-like and will adapt to their changing circumstances. From your response, dirac, I sense we largely agree with each other.
  20. For those interested, here's an article about Kim Larsen who produced a video celebrating Alberta Ballet's 50th anniversary along with her video. "Film studies student produces 50-year retrospective for Alberta Ballet" https://arts.ucalgary.ca/news/film-studies-student-produces-50-year-retrospective-for-alberta-ballet https://youtu.be/vt3KqmnOGfQ
  21. @dirac, thank you for your reply. Because you are a board moderator, please feel free to move my response to a separate thread. I feel guilty taking away from the original focus of this thread. Let me respond, however, to your comment. WSJ has for a long time written about topics other than business and politics. Indeed, one of its most enduring and well read sections is its "A-HED" column where the topic is typically something unusual. I often enjoy those articles. And in today's arts section of the WSJ, there's an article titled "‘Curlew River,’ ‘Dido and Aeneas’ and ‘Otello’ Reviews: Classics Get a Refresh" about an opera, with no comments, that demonstrates that the WSJ is not only about business and finance. Now, to come to your main point about my purportedly "...saying that readers aren't allowed to complain when they think their publication of choice is becoming a slave to clickbait and their only option is 'If you don’t like it, don’t read it,'" no, that's not what I am saying. Of course, people, especially paying customers, should voice their concerns. There is, however, a difference between voicing your concerns and trolling. And to your point, if the subject matter doesn't interest you, then yes, I suggest skipping over it. Why waste your time? Even more importantly, by skipping over it, you are voicing your lack of interest. If there's no interest, there will be no future articles. For example, I am reading one health article now on WSJ and there are forty-one trackers, with twenty-four dedicated to advertising; ten to site analytics; two to essential, whatever that means; two to customer interaction; two for audio and video; and one for social media. WSJ knows exactly what its readers are reading. Having said all that, I went back to review some touchy feely articles and their comments. Surprisingly the comments aren't as bad as I recall them to be. Perhaps the WSJ does a better job at moderating the comments now than it used to. It got so bad that I didn't even bother to read the comments. I was going demonstrate with article along with two readers' comments, but I can't see how to add pictures to my post. So that's out. It's not a big deal. When I read articles in various newspapers, I typically scan the comments because sometimes someone has something valuable to share, other than he or she agrees or disagrees. The other person might be familiar with the latest research or have come across important information that isn't widely known or has an interesting analytical view on the subject. Sometimes a reader contributes more than the writer. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article "We’re All Internet Trolls (Sometimes)" dated March 5, 2017. I believe this article is behind a paywall. If you or anyone else is interested, please send me a private message along with your email, and I can probably send you an invitation to read the article.
  22. Thank you for your comment. While I didn’t offer any analysis, I did highlight a few sentences from its last earnings release statement. From its earnings release, we know that the business climate remains challenging. I will provide a few more words on this topic and then let it go. I suspect most aren’t interested in the business considerations. One of my interests is in photography, so I have been peripherally following the media sector. I don’t recall which billionaire took over a famous newspaper in Chicago; however, I seem to recall that many of the news photographers were let go. That scenario has played across North America with other media organizations. Furthermore, various newspapers have combined news sections to reduce “redundancy.” Jeff Bezos recently acquired the Washington Post. My understanding is that while he is not directly involved in its editorial and news content, he has encouraged the company to use data science, much like Amazon does. And you know that Amazon is very efficient and effective. I expect that most large news organizations now know who clicks on which articles. For every article, it knows the demographics of the readership, when they read, how long they read, how many refer the article to others by way of the email feature, which articles they read next, and so on. I wouldn’t be surprised if the news organizations know your every click on their site. Indeed, many news sites now provide “recommended for you” articles. Thus, they know what I like and read. They also know that when an article cracks the “top ten” list, it gets a further boost in popularity. When I read a “touchy feely” article in the Wall Street Journal, I note that many readers often comment to the effect that such an article doesn’t belong in the Journal. I at once know that those readers are dumber than a sack of hammers because the Journal has the data. It knows what its readers read. Even more amazing, those who can’t stand such topics read the article and then bother to write that the article shouldn’t exist. As a word to the wise, don’t read the Journal’s readers’ comments, for they are usually very caustic and political. If the news organizations don’t already inform their writers of the various metrics, I expect that they soon will. A writer can or will be able to login and see key metrics about their articles, even in real time. Is this all bad? Not necessarily. For example, a newspaper might show that the readership of dance articles is skewing heavily to those that are older, much like the general population of attendees at a dance performance. The writer is then encouraged to write some articles to attract a younger audience. The writer can then pitch a dance company with a feature article that will appeal to a younger audience. The dance company, too, wants to attract younger audiences. So, their interests in the upcoming article are aligned. Data science is the “hot new thing” in university. Graduates with varied backgrounds gather and analyze huge amounts of data and then present the results. I am confident that the larger news organizations are learning and adapting, because their future depends upon it.
  23. I haven't followed this thread so my comments might seem out of place. There's been plenty of discussion about the New York Times and its dance coverage. With my background, I tend to view most things through a business and financial set of lenses. So I just did a quick check, less than five minutes worth, on the NYT. http://s1.q4cdn.com/156149269/files/doc_financials/quarterly/2016/Press-Release-12.25.2016.pdf While NYT enjoyed good subscriber growth of 276,000 digital subscribers, there were offsetting factors. In the "Outlook" section, we see that total advertising revenues are expected to decrease in the high-single digits. As the company stated it will remain focused on its legacy cost base. In short, it remains a challenging environment. The "Outlook" stuff is critical. As a general comment, a company can do amazingly well during the last quarter and issue a weak outlook. Analysts will often largely ignore the great performance and will focus instead on the weak guidance. In addition to hard quantitative stuff, a company's 10K statement often provides some helpful qualitative stuff. For those of you that might be interested, you can look around the company's investor site here: http://investors.nytco.com/investors/default.aspx. The 10K itself is here: http://s1.q4cdn.com/156149269/files/doc_financials/quarterly/2016/q4/As-filed-2016-10-K.pdf Quarterly earnings conference calls are very helpful, too. The company will often provide some "color" as to how its strategies are progressing. It discusses its various financial metrics and then opens itself up to questions from the analyst community. If anyone wants to get neck deep in this stuff, you can sign up at seekingalpha.com for free. Once you are there, you can read more about NYT. The key point of my entire message is that newspapers are tough businesses. So, look for companies to focus their energies where they can get their highest returns.
  24. “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” ― Mae West If you start at the beginning, you'll see some comments regarding NYCB social media. From your comment, you seem displeased that we drifted off topic. Just start at the beginning and stop when you lose interest.
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