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Sunpacy

Corporations And Ballet

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In the recent and just ended edition of the New York International Ballet Competition (NYIBC) happened something that really bothers me a lot.

One of the sponsors of the competition was Mc Donald’s fast food chain. The day for a competitor was class 9:30 am until 11 AM. Then 3 hours of rehearsal 1-hour lunch and the 2 more hours of rehearsal. The hour lunch consist in Boucher to eat in MC Donald’s. I don't know if anybody watched the movie Super size me, which by the way open a huge debate about the food industry and American way to eat. Mc Donald’s actually recommend don't eat everyday in their restaurants because the star of the movie Super size me goes to a Mc Donald’s diet for 30 days and almost had a liver failure. So the athletes of NYIBC had three weeks Mc Donald’s Diet.

I understand the NYIBC need sponsors but with that excuse they will accept money from Budweiser and Phillips Morris and the dancer will get free beer y and cigarettes? Because one beer a day or one cigarette an day isn't worse that One Mc Donald meal a day.

Anyway I believe if we are all here to promote ballet we should be consistent with he idea that ballet should be associated with healthy behavior, and no promote or change that behavior for money. I run a ballet studio and fight really hard with my students to change their feeding habits when one of their goals is participate in a competition like NYIBC and they promote Mc Donald I believe is a shame.

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Hi, Sunpacy! Welcome to Ballet Talk.

You raise an interesting question. I don't know anything about sponsorship of NYIBC, but to address your question generally, the arts are in a bind. On the one hand, they desperately need the money. On the other, often the corporations seem to have a hidden agenda: Bad Guy mustn't be so bad, because he supports the arts and gives to the poor.

The question is, what can arts organizations do about this?

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In 1986, I took a three-day seminar at Jacob's Pillow for people who were considering dance management as a career. One of the key participants was Sam Miller, who at the time managed Pilobolus, and was soon-after named Executive Director of Jacob's Pillow. When the subject of corporate grants was raised, and the example of Phillip Morris as a major sponsor of dance was questioned, he turned serious. The paraphrase of what he said was: corporations who donate to the arts are trying to clean up their image. If you don't like the idea of taking money from oil companies and tobacco companies, this is not the career for you.

The ever decreasing amount of government funding, and the decrease in private giving after 9/11 and the stock market decline makes money from sources that diminish health necessary for survival.

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..... makes money from sources that diminish health necessary for survival.
Now, that's an interesting sentence fragment. Sources that diminish health, in order to survive, are putting survival of the fittest -- our athletic young dancers -- to the test!

Many hospitals are guilty of similar reasoning. They need to stay alive, too, and in order to do so are "killing" their patients with health-endangering rather than health-bolstering meals.

..... corporations who donate to the arts are trying to clean up their image. If you don't like the idea of taking money from oil companies and tobacco companies, this is not the career for you.
Something is very wrong when we have to compromise the health of active young dancers by succumbing -- even for a short period -- to such jeopardizing influences. Is it really our job to bend over backwards and give in to questionable corporate sponsorship to help them "clean up their image"??!! What message are we giving our young artists with this kowtowing? That in addition to learning technique and developing artistry, they must add truckling to monied businesses, no matter what they're selling, to their ballet studies?

No amount of well-written or well-articulated rhetoric can conceal or whitewash the intentions of corporations that acquired their billions by capitalizing on the unhealthy habits of vast amounts of our human population.

Then this is not the career for you.
Sam Miller, for all his personal entrepreneurial success, displays a lack of belief in the creative abilities of arts movers/shakers-to-come with this pronouncement. 1986 was a long time ago -- almost 20 years. That the arts are still in trouble is not a good sign, but that we haven't sunk so low as to wear the golden arches on our tutus is a good sign! It may take another 20 years to make the right associations, but dance arts are not in danger of dying out in the interim. Integrity has to rule our decisions.

We've come a long way as a populace in the knowledge and application of healthy living. We have a long way to go yet. I contend that a flourishing future for the arts will be assured by the skills of health-concerned leaders to come and that some day the tail won't be wagging the dog in this regard.

addendum: Philip Morris, to whom Sam Miller referred, also owns Kraft cheese, which in turn owns Maxwell House coffee. Arts administrators have their work cut out for them! Research assistants needed!

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If you don't like the idea of taking money from oil companies and tobacco companies, this is not the career for you.

The ever decreasing amount of government funding, and the decrease in private giving after 9/11 and the stock market decline makes money from sources that diminish health necessary for survival.

Both those comments are from the new moral of the world we are living today. I believe are much more ways to get support for the arts, we just need to be more creative and combative too. But associate yourself with what is exactly opposite for what you stand for beside to be an incoherent paradox is also the beginning of your end. The support of the arts has decline no question about it 9/11 and the Tsunami disaster affected private donation. Government doesn’t actually have a cultural policy or any interest that their people being expose to the arts, that’s way isn’t support by the government. If the artist wants to survive we have to come up with something better that sleeping with the enemy.

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The paraphrase of what he said was:  corporations who donate to the arts are trying to clean up their image.  If you don't like the idea of taking money from oil companies and tobacco companies, this is not the career for you.

Imagine the swan corps, each white tutu bearing a single, large, bright letter. The choreographer can move the dancers around to spell "Big Mac," "Marlboro Llite," "Want a Bud?" or whatever he/she needs.

RE: "clean up their image." Can you think of major corporations who support ballet significantly but do NOT need to "clean up their image" in the way tobacco, fast food, and (one presumes) nuclear power companies need to do? I have the impression that many corporate sponsors are locally-based and truly do this as a matter of creating good will (perhaps less now than in the past), but am blanking out as to examples.

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Imagine the swan corps, each white tutu bearing a single, large, bright letter.  The choreographer can move the dancers around to spell "Big Mac," "Marlboro Llite," "Want a Bud?" or whatever he/she needs.

:deal: :speechless-smiley-003:

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Sounds like some kind of Faustian bargain here. Students/kids easily spot hypocrisy on their radar, & political spin or double-speak fools no one.

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Thanks, carbro, for that 2003 link. The discussion is detailed, fascinating, long, and very worth reading.

I joined the board long after that thread. Those "old" (to me) threads contain so much, and I learn so much from them.

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It must be very difficult for ballet schools, particularly those affiliated with professional companies, to keep kids from smoking. But it's not just the support of Philip Morris: it's also the examples of their role models and idols who can be seen puffing like chimneys in the neighborhoods surrounding the theater and in neighborhoods where clusters of dancers live.

If Balanchine, a known anti-smoker, couldn't change the minds of dancers who would do anything else to please him, I'm not sure this is possible, particularly since people in general view smoking as a weight-loss aid.

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Philip Morris at least has the good PR sense not to mention cigarettes -- or even, these days, its real name -- in the same breath (pardon the expression) as their arts sponsorship.

When short-of-cash teens and young adults spend an expensive month in New York, free meals may be a better deal than independently sought-out nutritious ones. I am hoping that in this case, McD's made available to the participants some of the salads it now pushes so aggressively in its advertising, though. In fact, the potential word-of-mouth publicity about the salad menu may have been one motivating factor in sponsoring this event. Sunpacy?

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As usual in Message boards people never follows the story line and debate about the original subject they leave messajes that sound more like personal psicotherapy than friendly debate.

This topic was about NYIBC and the Mc Donald's Sponsorship the gave to the compatitors vouchers to eat in Mc D every day for the lenght of the event I believe that is pretty stupid.

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As usual in Message boards people never follows the story line and debate about the original subject they leave messajes that sound more like personal psicotherapy than friendly debate.

I think the thread spoke to the underlying issue of why a competition, and the arts in general, accept money and goods from corporations that provide unhealthy products. You certainly are entitled to your opinion of whether our responses satisfy you. You may consider this a standard discussion on this board, and you have the option of not participating if it doesn't meet your standards.

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If we are to engage in discussion, many people with many viewpoints will enter various viewpoints and anecdotes, and, yes, the topic will expand. Sometimes, there is even a difference of opinion! It happens when people sit around a living room. It is the nature of conversation. The alternative is monologue.

This topic was about NYIBC and the Mc Donald's Sponsorship the gave to the compatitors vouchers to eat in Mc D every day for the lenght of the event I believe that is pretty stupid.

You did not take the opportunity I offered to answer my question, which was: Were the participants forced to consume Big Macs and Sundaes, or were they given the option of other offerings? Were dancers free, if they chose, to spend their own money, to take their meals elsewhere in this city, where there are literally thousands of restaurants, including many which serve health food and organic food? Even supermarkets sell take-out meals!

You say there are other ways for arts organizations to get money. I'm sure many would love to know what they are. Can you share your ideas?

Or have I veered off the original topic?

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You may consider this a standard discussion on this board, and you have the option of not participating if it doesn't meet your standards.

I promise you I am not that arrogant to believe something does not meet my standards, it just in Messages Boards always (Like we say in Spanish) people detour for the small roads.

It is not about my standards or me it’s just is what happened in Messages Boards that's all.

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you did not take the opportunity I offered to answer my question,

I didn't know it was one I apologize

which was: Were the participants forced to consume Big Macs and Sundaes, or were they given the option of other offerings?

It is not the point. The point is that an event like NYIBC shouldn't be associated with Mc Donald’s or any other fast food chains for that matter, we are trying here to among many other thing incentive health and healthy habits, eat in Mc Donald’s which by the way the salads are pure sugar is not a healthy one.

Were dancers free, if they chose, to spend their own money,

being free is to spend money is kind a not the point either. We live in democracy and you are free to drive a convertible Mercedes Benz now sometime freedom is not enough to drive a Mercedes. The point one more time is the only food provided by the competition was Mc Donald’s that was bad enough. But you are the DANCERS WERE FREE TO EAT AT WENDY'S TOO

to take their meals elsewhere in this city, where there are literally thousands of restaurants

Yes 10 of thousands of restaurants but let talk about a South American dancers were a regular salary is around 450 dollars a month fly to US spend three weeks in one of the most expensive cities in the world and the only food provided is McD I don't think the Silver Medalist from Cuba could do much with the few dollars he brought from Cuba.

You say there are other ways for arts organizations to get money. I'm sure many would love to know what they are. Can you share your ideas?

Well we will need a lot of time to expose different ways to raise money, but I believe the mission of artist today is education, that is the only way we will get money. One of the main reasons why we don't have any much sponsorship is because people know very little about ballet, without exposure wont be money.(when was the last time you saw a ballet on TV?)

Or have I veered off the original topic?

Is that a valid question?

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and you have the option of not participating if it doesn't meet your standards.

I forgot to tell you it was a very "Legato" way to tell me if I don't like it I should leave.

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Sunpacy, it is an unfortunate situation all around.

I agree that it starts with education, but in this country, the voters seem to think lowering their taxes by a few cents a year is more important than producing a new generation well-rounded individuals. If we were able to start doing that seriously today, it would take a good 20-30 years for society to feel its full benefit. For now, we're stuck in the world we live in.

I understand that many participants have limited resources. The sponsoring organization has limited resources. Perhaps this was the only way it could be sure that its dancers got three meals a day. Or maybe it should have budgeted for all meals and cut the number of participants in half.

I respect everything you wrote in your last post. Your points about the NYIBC and its sponsors are completely valid. I just don't know what alternatives are available to the organization for its next competition.

I hope you enjoyed your time here.

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it would take a good 20-30 years for society to feel its full benefit. For now, we're stuck in the world we live in.

It is not that much time in the context in how valuable is the mission.

And anyway believe it will take less because when the wheels move the momentum help you. In the 80s. Ballet was very popular Baryshnikov making ballet movies and companies were doing very good actually it was more exposure, well we have to get that kind the exposure back plus education. I am doing it in my town with a lot of success and my company are growing fast. Even with some unpopular desitions because we are not related with some kind of sponsorship we don't agree with their philosophy.

For me it was a disgrace what NYIBC did. and I know that if the were working a little bit harder they could find a better sponsor in that area.

Yes I enjoy being here

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Yes, ballet experienced a huge boom when Baryshnikov was dancing classical works in the West, and that boom was part of what gave birth to NYIBC and several others. But one person does not make a whole art. He brought some people to the theater to see his huge jumps, and they saw the jumps and were thrilled and went home. Others saw beyond, and they noticed that ballet has expressive and poetic possibilities. And they stayed, at least for a while. Pinning the future of an art to a single figure, no matter how great (and I include even choreographers here) can be dangerous, because no one succeeds every time, and no one lasts forever. I do agree that many companies do not get adequate publicity. Part of the problem (discussed on various threads here) is that news organizations are devoting less space to the arts in general (and more to popular culture). Critics, when they're lucky enough to be published, are limited by editors to shorter reviews. It is a situation with a tangle of problems.

I'm a firm believer that companies which don't make low-price tickets (i.e., about equal to a movie ticket) available are losing young viewers and viewers of limited means. The should be actively trying to build audiences. A lot of folks are not willing to spend $30 for a "cheap" seat if they're not sure they'll like something. And a lot of people who liked it once don't have the extra $30 to see it twice.

Your efforts on behalf of your company are very laudable. You must be doing tremendous work. No company I know of can exist with no sponsorship. Can you meet all your expenses with ticket sales? There must be some patronage, even if it doesn't come from corporations -- foundations or wealthy individuals.

I am hopeful for the future, Sunpacy, just knowing that there's someone out there with your determination and idealism. :thumbs up: That alone inspires support. Thanks so much! And keep it up.

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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.

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