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NYC Ballet Cuts Corps as Deficit Widens

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I guess it was only a matter of time before we saw this. The NY Times reports that contracts for 11 corps members will not be renewed for next season and that senior staff get a 10% salary cut. With ticket sales and donations off by 6% - 8%, they are running a $5.5 million deficit this season. :thumbsup:NY Times story 2/20/09 re staff reductions

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GRRRRR .... I know there's really no connection, but this makes me resent every dime squandered spent on R+J's sets and costumes even more.

There are very few NYCB corps dancers that I don't recognize by sight onstage (just the newest SAB crop, really) and few that don't have something genuinely special about them. I can't think of a single one of which I'd think "oh well -- no great loss," so this really is a very sad development for the dancers, the company, and the audience.

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What about $$ "squandered" on dead-wood principals? Why short-change the future? That's awful.

And do you suppose they will go ahead with the re-design of their website?

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I certainly agree w. you about the dead wood principals. I wonder if the corp members who were not renewed are the young ones, or the older corps members (or some mixture thereof). A lot of the new works they commission and present every season seem to be a waste of money. Personally, I would feel no sense of loss if the number of new ballets each season was reduced to 1 in order to save $$.

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What about $$ "squandered" on dead-wood principals? Why short-change the future? That's awful.

I didn't want to go there, but yeah, I can think of a couple of principals for whom it might be a win-win all around if they were gently nudged on to Plan B.

And do you suppose they will go ahead with the re-design of their website?

They were going to re-design the website again? Why? A couple of screens might benefit from a tweak or two and there could be a click or so less to get from one place to another -- some of the logic behind where stuff is parked still escapes me -- but your average 15 year old could probably sort that out for them.

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The close proximity of Darci's announcement over a year in advance of her retirement (an absurdly long advance notice) and the timing of these cuts is very curious.

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I can't think of a single one of which I'd think "oh well -- no great loss," so this really is a very sad development for the dancers, the company, and the audience.

I never heard of a mass layoff of totally undeserving employees, unfortunately, although some businesses like to do what they call ‘performance-based layoffs.’

Miami City Ballet also elected to chop away at the corps. Very sad all around.

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There was a point back in the late 80's I think when Martins let 11 corps MEN go: I think Peter Stark, Larry Matthews, Peter Neuman (sp??), Bill Otto, and a few others were among them. But they had all been in the corps for a long time. THIS is different.

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I can't think of a single one of which I'd think "oh well -- no great loss," so this really is a very sad development for the dancers, the company, and the audience.

I never heard of a mass layoff of totally undeserving employees, unfortunately, although some businesses like to do what they call ‘performance-based layoffs.’

Miami City Ballet also elected to chop away at the corps. Very sad all around.

How will this really impact on the company? How is the perfect number of corp dancers determined? It seems to me that the company has over the years varied in size, but I'm not sure what determines the precise number of corps dancers. Also, what does this mean for students coming through the school?

I remember that when Peter took over the company he got rid of a lot of so called "dead wood."

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I believe that principals are paid on a per performance basis, so the effect on the budget is somewhat different.

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Miami City Ballet also elected to chop away at the corps. Very sad all around.
And they informed the dancers by mail, according to the Miami Herald.

To give Peter Martins credit, he (1) spoke personally to the dancers involved and (2) took a pay cut himself. Good for him.

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This is not a surprise, as I hear the same is happening to other major American companies, MCB has already been noted, but also Boston B, and SFB...

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I believe that principals are paid on a per performance basis, so the effect on the budget is somewhat different.

Wow. Is that so? I'm surprised. I thought principals at City Ballet earned an annual salary that was established by contract. The per performance approach makes sense for guest artists (for example, ABT's guest artist Osipova), but not for someone who is under contract as a principal dancer for a negotiated term of a year or more.

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I believe that principals are paid on a per performance basis, so the effect on the budget is somewhat different.

Wow. Is that so? I'm surprised. I thought principals at City Ballet earned an annual salary that was established by contract. The per performance approach makes sense for guest artists (for example, ABT's guest artist Osipova), but not for someone who is under contract as a principal dancer for a negotiated term of a year or more.

NYCB pays its dancers the highest amount of any company from the apprentices to the principals. The dancers are unionized and rightfully so are paid a very nice living wage. The principals are not paid per performance. (as far as the last time I knew).

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AGMA boilerplate establishes a base salary for all levels of artists in a company like NYCB. There are some roles which are compensated for hazard (like Mother Ginger on her stilts, Puck by flying) and some few which are negotiated at contract meetings with individual dancers. These are called "premiums" in ballet contracts. They are in addition to, not in lieu of, regular salary.

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Miami City Ballet also elected to chop away at the corps. Very sad all around.
And they informed the dancers by mail, according to the Miami Herald.

To give Peter Martins credit, he (1) spoke personally to the dancers involved and (2) took a pay cut himself. Good for him.

I don't know that I would rely on the Miami Herald for complete and accurate information about contract negociations. As for Peter Martins, he may very well have been required to speak personally to the dancers, and the pay cut may have been mandated by the Board; who knows?

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Miami City Ballet also elected to chop away at the corps. Very sad all around.
And they informed the dancers by mail, according to the Miami Herald.

To give Peter Martins credit, he (1) spoke personally to the dancers involved and (2) took a pay cut himself. Good for him.

I don't know that I would rely on the Miami Herald for complete and accurate information about contract negociations. As for Peter Martins, he may very well have been required to speak personally to the dancers, and the pay cut may have been mandated by the Board; who knows?

I'm going to give Martins the benefit of the doubt on this one. I've been on both sides of the layoff discussion, and it ain't no fun either way.

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The New York Times has quite a complete article and discusses the contract issue and Martins' actions. Non profits are required in their tax returns (990) to list the 5 highest salaries in the company, and this info is obtainable through sources such as the Foundation Center - and as said previously the principals are salaried.

I wonder if a letter-writing campaign would make any sense or impact.

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Ouch -- the Times reports that the endowment is down $49 million for the fiscal year!

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Ouch -- the Times reports that the endowment is down $49 million for the fiscal year!

I wonder how many long-time patrons of NYCB were clients of Mr. Madoff or have lost huge bucks just through 'legit' mutual funds? It's the sudden yanking of the huge batches of funding that really hurt, although fewer of the smaller donations from 'ordinary folk' are also important.

Remember when the Kennedy Center and other arts institutions suddenly lost the funding from Mr. Vilar? If it suddenly loses the funding of 3-4 "Vilars," an arts organization will sink.

I suspect that the few large government grants that will be available as part of The Stimulus will go to very select arts organizaitons that may end up being what exists in the future, e.g., a dozen major ballet companies in the USA, each serving 4-5 states, rather than a bunch of smaller local ones. Just like the USSR not so long ago - every Republic had its one-and-only state-funded Theater of Ballet and Opera.

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Ouch -- the Times reports that the endowment is down $49 million for the fiscal year!

I wonder how many long-time patrons of NYCB were clients of Mr. Madoff or have lost huge bucks just through 'legit' mutual funds? It's the sudden yanking of the huge batches of funding that really hurt, although fewer of the smaller donations from 'ordinary folk' are also important.

Everyone's investments are down, including small investors, pension funds on whom many depend, etc. The Times today reports that the S&P index is down 43% over the past year -- the Dow, down 40,7% for the same period -- NASDAQ down 37.3%.

Donors who depend on investment income or capital appreciation to fund their giving have been seriously affected. What scares me is that, for most company budgets, the consequences haven't even begun to show up. What will happen when subscriptions have to be renewed -- the biggest time for regular annual giving? These cutbacks, layoffs, etc., are all being put into effect in the expectation of bad news coming up.

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I never heard of a mass layoff of totally undeserving employees, unfortunately, although some businesses like to do what they call ‘performance-based layoffs.’

I didn't phrase this very well. I meant to say that layoffs of this size generally include of perfectly good employees who've done nothing to 'deserve' it.

I don't know that I would rely on the Miami Herald for complete and accurate information about contract negociations.

I think more than one news report had the story about the Miami dancers hearing by regular mail, and having to wait until the letter arrived to find out. It's quite true that there is no good way to fire a bunch of people. Some are better than others, though.

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There was a point back in the late 80's I think when Martins let 11 corps MEN go: I think Peter Stark, Larry Matthews, Peter Neuman (sp??), Bill Otto, and a few others were among them. But they had all been in the corps for a long time. THIS is different.

And there were genuine retirements among them.

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I have bad vibes from the Martins and the management especially after the gala and the big wet kiss they sent to Mr. Moneybags Koch. They named the theatre after him and I'd bed he spends more money on his yacht crew's salaries than the whole corps put together.

That worked out great Mr Martins and NYCB management. Didn't it?

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