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Welsh Canary

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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  1. In my observations of our local ballet company, I've reached the following conclusions about why there is a CEO position: 1. Boards of Directors are lazy and don't want to have to go to a number of sources on staff for information. They want to be spoon fed information and one stop shopping is the way to go for them. 2. As corporate representation on Boards of Directors has increased, they expect and want business models with which they are familiar and have experience. They mistakenly assume that the for-profit model is applicable to and in the non-profit world. 3. The Artistic Director of our local company is foreign born and lacks familiarity with capitalistic business models. It would appear that our Board feels that a CEO is the best way in which to address this deficiency. I would be interested in learning if other companies using the CEO model have done so for similar reasons.
  2. As a relative newcomer to ballet, the issue of copyright is puzzling to me. What is the standard that is used to determine whether a work is new or simply a revival of a pre-existing work? Who verifies whether a work merits being copyrighted or not? And are there cases where copyright becomes an issue? How and when has/does this happen? What are the consequences for copyright violation in the dance world? And finally, is this a problem?
  3. I realize that whether a company is union or non-union makes a big difference in pay scale. Also, the city in which a company is located can make a big difference in pay scale, i.e. Tulsa vs. New York City. One would think that gate receipts would also impact pay scale from one company to another. But in our city, this does not seem to be the case. For example, the pay for the Artistic Director of our local financially struggling ballet company is well into the six figures. Starting dancers with the company receive pay on par with what another poster listed for Boston. In sharp contrast with this is the reported (Indianapolis Monthly) pay for the Artistic Director of a highly successful local modern dance company. His income is listed as being in the mid $60s. Does anyone know how Boards of Directors go about determining payscale for artistic staff and dancers?
  4. Discipline and control are central to the art of ballet. That being said, so are creativity and freedom. In a perfect world these things exist in a balanced state. It has always amazed me that people will criticize a whistle blower, rather than ask why an individual felt so driven to go public. In my experience, if that question is asked, one usually learns that there was something that justifiably triggered the criticism or complaint. Often, the individual felt the need to go public because all other avenues for addressing the problem had been shut off or denied to them. unfortunately, in many companies, there is a fine line between discipline and iron fisted dictatorship and control and denigrating and debilitating enslavement. And yet, what today a dancer criticizes may in the future be put into practice by that very same individual. For example, I would be interested in learning if any of Vinogradov's former dancers who once criticized him have turned into the very thing they once so detested. My guess is that they have. Hating to be picky here, canbelto, but worse for the audience than an unhappy ballerina is an unhappy corps de ballet. For quite a few years, I suffered through ballets I loved when they were given fairly respectable performances by the principals, but dragged down by a corps that was grudgingly executing the steps, without a scintilla of joy. They didn't want to be there; why should I? <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
  5. It is interesting to note that since the initial article first appeared about the possibility of a Ballet Internationale move to LA, there has been barely a blip on the hometown radar screen about this. My guess is that this is probably due to the fact that most hoosiers remain unaware that this company even exists. And that speaks volumes about the company's commitment to the community. BI has been on the local scene for more than 30 years. In its early years, it had a significant and highly successful education and outreach program that reached thousands of school children and adults annually. However, in the last 10 years, the company's commitment to education and outreach has been significantly eroded under the leadership of the current Artistic Director. Not surprisingly, a revived fledgling education and outreach program was eliminated recently due to "budgetary cutbacks." One can't help wondering if the lack of commitment by this company toward community oriented programming will lead to its demise on the local scene. Claims of being a "world class company" to the contrary, communities expect and deserve more from non-profits than the ability to purchase tickets to performances. With BI's kind of track record, one is also left to wonder why in the world LA would ever be willing to take a risk on this company.
  6. The last post really struck a nerve with me. At our local ballet company, we have all of the same difficulties (and many more). It has always amazed me that there is so little recognition as to the importance of maintaining administrative personnel. Often when companies face financial hardship, the first recourse a Board will take, is to cut "non-essential administrative staff." Consequently, many companies go through repeated cycles of "feast and famine." Because of the high turnover of administrative staff, operating processes that could lead to stability seldom have a chance of being implemented and absorbed into the fabric of the company. Also, among Board members there seems to be a mistaken reliance on the opinions and thoughts of the Artistic Director as to what business decisions should be made. While these people are extremely giften and understand the artistic side of the business very well, they seldom possess a significant enough grasp on the marketing side of the business to make meaningful decisions. It's kind of like asking your plumber to perform open heart surgery. No one would do anything that stupid. Yet we routinely do it in the art world. Go figure!
  7. I'm a relative newcomer to ballet. While I love the classics (Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire, La Fille Mal Gardee, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, etc.), understanding and appreciating them has taken time and considerable self-education on my part. In talking with other audience members, I have been repeatedly struck by how little many of them know about the ballets they attend and how little they actually understand about what they've seen. In our fast paced word, increasingly, people don't read and don't have the time to invest in learning about the art form. I think one of the things we often forget when we see one of the classics, is just how "main stream" they were in terms of the popular culture in which they first appeared. I think that companies that try to exist on a steady diet of only the classics are doomed to failure. Modern audiences deserve ballets that are relevant to their own time. Those ballets can employ classical technique, but they need to be built on modern themes that resonant with today's audiences. No company will remain successful if it chooses to ignore its audience. A company can claim to be a "world class company" until the cows come home, but if it fails to communicate with and touch its audience, then it doesn't matter how technically superior the dancers are.
  8. At our local ballet, corporate sponsorship has definitely grown in the last year. And as monetary support has grown, so has corporate representation on our Board of Directors. While there's nothing wrong with that per se, the presence of corporate button downed types on the Board has brought with it a host of problems: 1. Board members who do not understand and cannot differentiate between how a for profit Board functions and how a non-profit Board should function, and 2. everything being driven by "the bottom line." Increasingly, we hear language such as "all departments must be profit centers for the company," while at the same time 3 out of 4 of the company's productions last year lost money. Questions that should be asked about the artistic budget go unasked while departmental budgets are scrutinized with a magnifying glass. Those that are deemed not to measure up are jettisoned with little thought or understanding as to the long term consequences for the company of such actions. By acting in accord with the for-profit corporate model, the emphasis is on the short term, often with disastrous consequences. Because the public sees that the company is not willing to invest in it, they increasingly decline to invest in the company, and rightly so. I'm curious is any other companies are witnessing any of these problems and would like to know what they've done pro-actively to address them.
  9. I'm surprised that this thread hasn't garnered more comments and isn't a "hotter" issue in the ballet community. On the Board of Directors for our local ballet company, there does not seem to be an awareness of the need to build outreach programs at all. Education and outreach is seen more as a cost center and a frill rather than as an investment for a healthy and stable future for the company. Also, there seems to be a lack of commitment toward audience diversification. The prevailing attitude seems to be "if they can't afford the price of a regular ticket, then they don't deserve to see the ballet." The main emphasis seems to be on ticket sales and landing large donations from corporations and very rich individual donors. Little or no thought is given to how best to position the company for grant revenues. Nor is there any recognition among our Board members that companies who invest in outreach to minorities and low income sectors of the community are often best positioned to garner significant grant revenues. I'm curious if this if a problem for other companies.
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