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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Affects the Ballet World


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14 minutes ago, YouOverThere said:

The Kennedy Center stated that about 90 percent of holders of tickets to cancelled performances have asked for a refund rather than donating the money. I'm guessing that other organizations are finding similar results,

I wonder if this holds for individual arts organizations, rather than presenters.  I hope not.  They'll already have a big enough liability on their books for tickets next season, because, in general, the default for not donating tickets or going through whatever hoops to ask for a refund, is an account credit.   I have no idea how they track individual ticket sales sold from box offices, because I rarely buy tickets in person, unless I'm there for something else on a subscription.  Then when I go to the box office, they add it to my account.

Do organizations create accounts in the moment, if you just walk up to the box office and have never purchased (or have been tracked) before?

I was trying to figure out how to get all of my donation info in the Seattle Opera online form, and when a chat window popped up on screen, I figured I'd give it a try.  I thought they'd be slammed and would want to get rid of me as soon as possible, but they processed the ticket donation right off of chat.  I wasn't going to abandon ship or change my mind, but it was probably easier, and they had a live offer right there :)

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34 minutes ago, YouOverThere said:

The Kennedy Center stated that about 90 percent of holders of tickets to cancelled performances have asked for a refund rather than donating the money. I'm guessing that other organizations are finding similar results,

Letter from the Kennedy Center just arrived, if you were wondering where the $25 million went:

The Kennedy Center
 
 

Dear friends,

The family we have here at the Center is beyond measure and we are so grateful for the community we have created together. We know so many of you are dealing with unprecedented circumstances right now and I want to take a moment today to send you our thoughts and love during this time. I hope you and your loved ones are sheltering at home, are safe, and most importantly healthy. I also hope that you find respite and comfort in each other and the arts in all its forms during this time. 

As you are someone who cares about this institution as much as we do, I felt it was important for you to hear directly from me regarding some of the difficult decisions we have recently had to make. 

As America and countries around the world try to make sense of the current global public health and economic crisis, new realities have come sharply into focus for business and non-profit leaders, forcing many—including the Kennedy Center—to do everything possible to ensure our long-term financial health and survival. 

Without question, the Kennedy Center has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and has experienced overwhelming financial losses. The shared sacrifices we make as an institution and the financial steps we take today, though painful, are vitally important to securing the future of the Kennedy Center. By safeguarding our financial position now, we also improve our capacity to open our doors and stages for audiences as soon as it is safe to do so.

As a living presidential memorial and congressionally created National Center for the Performing Arts, the Center’s economic model is different than most arts organizations. Our business operations rely heavily on ticket revenues and donations, which combined, equal 80% of the Center’s annual operating budget. The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to cancel all performances through at least May 10, 2020, depleting almost all ticket income and greatly reducing charitable gifts to the Center. With no end in sight to the current crisis, we feel it is prudent to assume that our business may not resume for several months.

Our extensive financial modeling indicates that if no changes are made to our spending patterns, even if we are able to open in mid-May, with the recent $25 million federal stimulus funding, the Kennedy Center would run out of cash as early as July. In order to stretch the Center’s finances as long as possible, we must take immediate action to change our expense structure and preserve cash.

In addition to drawing from the $25 million stimulus funding and the Center’s existing $10 million line of credit, we must furlough approximately 60% of the Kennedy Center’s full-time administrative staff beginning April 6 through at least May 10, 2020. These measures are apart from the 725 hourly and part-time employees already impacted. The remaining skeleton staff consists primarily of box office, finance, marketing, and development employees required to maintain business continuity. 

It is imperative that we scale back the entire institution’s personnel costs during this time of closure and dearth of ticket income. While, all of these choices are incredibly difficult, they are necessary for us to re-employ staff and musicians when we can resume our programming and bring audiences back to the Center in the months to come. The human impacts of these actions are indeed devastating, which is why Kennedy Center leadership has committed to covering full healthcare benefits for all furloughed employees.

In the last week, we have received many questions from the public and our patrons about the $25 million designated for the Kennedy Center in the federal stimulus package (CARES Act). This economic relief will save jobs and ensure jobs for our furloughed staff to come back to once the pandemic subsides and we are able to reopen for business. The following breakdown illustrates how the Kennedy Center will use these funds to cover essential expenses over the next six months: 

How is the $25M being spent?

Employee Compensation

$12,750,000

 

Employee Benefits

$7,500,000

 

Artist Contracts and Fees

$1,750,000

 

Deep Cleaning

$250,000

 

IT to Improve Telework Capacity

$250,000

 

Rent or Utilities

$1,000,000

 

Information Technology

$750,000

 

Other Admin Expenses

$750,000

 

TOTAL

$25,000,000

 

After exhaustive review and scrutiny of all options, the Kennedy Center’s leadership and board believe the plan outlined above is the only way forward. Our priority and responsibility is to ensure that the Kennedy Center is able to fulfill its mission into the future and re-open once the pandemic has subsided and our lives, our community, and the economy may return to some normalcy. We look forward to re-engaging artists and re-employing staff, just as soon as health and public officials indicate it is safe to do so. Our nation’s stages will come alive. 

On behalf of the entire Kennedy Center family, we wish you all good health and courage in the days to come.

With gratitude for your patronage,

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Deborah F. Rutter
President

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How do the National Symphony musicians figure/not figure into this? Do they get part of the "employee compensation"? Whatever that is.

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I think orchestras are going to get crushed by this from both sides:  as orchestras, which tend to have many, many more performances than their dance and opera counterparts at the same level, and then as accompanists for one-off chorale performances, subgroups that perform chamber works, as dance orchestras,, like the Phoenix Symphony does a subset of productions a year for Ballet Arizona.  And, especially for dance companies, live music historically has been the first to go, as they are the sibling art form that can be performed to recordings, however odious that is for pieces that were meant to be performed to live music. 

I think this is where organizations  will be able to go scorched earth with union contracts, and, if given the chance, raid the pension funds, which are delayed compensation, not benefits.  Similarly, dancers, who aren't all that protected with one year contracts, two guaranteed if they have the right contract and are at a company long enough, are subject to being part of roster cleaning by guillotine, not by 1000 cuts.

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From Ballet West came the following press release in my inbox:

 

BALLET WEST CANCELS CHOREOGRAPHIC FESTIVAL    


SALT LAKE CITY, UT--Following directives by government officials, Ballet West has decided to cancel the Choreographic Festival, originally scheduled for May 14-16 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. The Company plans to stage Nicolo Fonte’s Bolero and Sir Frederick Ashton’s The Dream on June 12-20 at the Capitol Theatre, (originally scheduled for April 17-25).

Ballet West is offering three options to ticket buyers: a refund, a voucher for next season, or to donate the value of the ticket as a charitable contribution to the Company. Executive Director Michael Scolamiero said, “The cancellation of the Choreographic Festival has tremendous impact on Ballet West’s financial health, and we hope our ticket buyers will choose to donate the value of their ticket. We will gladly send buyers a tax receipt for their donation.”

Additionally, The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy will continue to be closed with the goal of resuming classes on May 4 and moving Spring Performances to late May or early June. The Academy will provide a mix of free live-streaming classes, private sessions, adult ballet, and building a Ballet West Virtual Academy to host modules and curriculum for all ages.

Ticket holders will receive an email today with instructions for each option regarding canceled performances. Patrons may also call Ballet West at 801-869-6920.

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15 hours ago, California said:

How is the $25M being spent?

Employee Compensation

$12,750,000

 

Employee Benefits

$7,500,000

 

 

 

Why am I thinking that these are the numbers if everyone were to be paid in full for 2 months rather than what it will cost to pay most of the employees for 1 month and 150 or so for 2 months?

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I was supposed to go to the World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal a couple of weeks ago, and until the week before, it seemed to be a game of chicken between the Province of Quebec, which ultimately called it off, the  International Skating Union, which holds the TV and streaming contracts and may get a cut of the gate, and the Local Organizing Committee for the event, and, possibly, Skate Canada.  For most of us, the underlying assumption was that it was an insurance terms issue, and we weren't surprised that the ISU didn't make a decision, but that PC made it for them.  For commercial productions, there may also be an insurance issue, ie, the ramifications of canceling before or after there is an official stay at home/restriction for large gatherings in place.  

For ballet companies and other arts organizations, my gut is to respect those that are realistic about the season more than those who appear to me to be in denial about performances later this Spring.  But there may also be contributing factors to the delay, like grant terms, the Board members, determining the demand for refunds rather than credits or ticket donations for the first round of cancellations, and evaluating any subscription cancellations or lack of renewals, so that they can analyze cash flow and financing, etc.  It may be, too, that people are willing to donate smaller increments back, but if faced with getting a multi-hundred, or multi-thousand dollar refund, they might opt for the latter.

 

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The Washington Ballet has cancelled their production of Coppelia which had been scheduled for the middle of May. A piece of trivia: Coppelia was the first ballet that Julie Kent danced in at the Kennedy Center (not sure what role she danced).

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15 minutes ago, lmspear said:

They'll put off making a cancellation announcement for as long as possible, Maybe as late as June first.

The run is scheduled to last into September, so unless this crisis lasts well into the summer they would likely be able to get in a lot of performances. One theory that has been tossed around is that the Kennedy Center is desperate for the revenue that Hamilton will bring in and are furloughing employees just in case they have to cancel a substantial number of performances.

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Mathilde Froustey explains how to get a makeshift dance surface to use for online ballet classes:
 

 

Edited by pherank
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Yes, volcanohunter's announcement earlier today (2nd April) is consistent with the published plans of Perm Opera Ballet Theatre. The company's Facebook page is listing a wide range of events just held and about to be held — streaming of recordings of ballet, opera, concerts, lectures, plus a few "private" events such as interviews that can maintain the required social distancing. I've found it hard to find a full list, for the main website does not have one. However, the Facebook page seems to present most things, with at least a few days' notice (you might have to put the URL through Google Translate):  https://www.facebook.com/PermOpera

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Boston Ballet has just cancelled the balance of their spring season:

http://email.wordfly.com/view/?sid=MjM0XzMzODQ2XzQxMTMwM183MTYx&l=0a30cbcf-4074-ea11-bd94-e61f134a8c87&utm_source=46207&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=SWA_OTC&utm_content=version_A

AN UPDATE  ON THE SPRING SEASON FROM SENIOR LEADERSHIP:

We’ve always been so proud that our art provides joy and community, especially when life is challenging or uncertain. So it is particularly painful that we must suspend the rest of Boston Ballet’s spring season in the interest of the health and safety of our community and in accordance with Governor Baker’s most recent order. Our current plan is to welcome Boston Ballet audiences back to the theater in August with Carmen, and to reschedule Swan Lake and Off the Charts for future seasons. We very much want Boston Ballet to continue to play an uplifting role in your lives, and we are committed to providing you with art and inspiration virtually over the weeks and months ahead.

As a non-profit organization employing hundreds of artistic and administrative staff, this is an especially challenging time for us. This suspension totals 75% of our spring season and Boston Ballet expects to lose well over $8 million as a result. These are vital resources that pay for the talented dancers and staff who make everything you love about Boston Ballet possible. To maintain the people power necessary to bring world-class dance back to our theaters and studios, we need your help.

Please consider doing what you can to provide critical relief to the Boston Ballet community. When you turn your unused performance ticket into a tax-deductible donation, you support our artists and staff. When you make an additional gift to Boston Ballet, you keep our workforce preparing for the moment we can welcome you back to our theater and studios once again. If you currently have tickets to Swan Lake or Off the Charts, you will be hearing more from our team about your options shortly. Thank you for being with us, for your encouragement, and for your generosity that inspires us through this period of unprecedented difficulty.

We hope that you stay well and take care of yourself, and we are so looking forward to being with you again.

Yours truly,

mikko11.png
max-sig-2018.png
 

 

Mikko Nissinen
Artistic Director

 

Max Hodges
Executive Director

 

Boston Ballet
19 Clarendon Street 
Boston, MA 02116 

617.695.6950 | www.bostonballet.org
All rights reserved © 2019 Boston Ballet

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33 minutes ago, California said:

Boston Ballet has just cancelled the balance of their spring season

 

And Washington just announced their 2020 Fall and 2021 Seasons. But it's all just conjecture at this point.

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The National Ballet of Canada has also canceled the remainder of its season, including a tour to London this summer and also a visit by the San Francisco Ballet next November. A new production of Swan Lake, which was supposed to premiere in June, has been delayed by a year, a new work by Wayne McGregor and Cathy Marston's Victoria have been pushed to 2021-22, and a Balanchine/Tchaikovsky bill has fallen by the wayside. So no performances scheduled until November. That's a hiatus of 8 months.

Edited by volcanohunter
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If you've been wondering how this pandemic is affecting the Russians (and thus the major Russian dance companies)...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/world/europe/coronavirus-us-russia-aid.html

Mr. Putin said a nationwide paid holiday to fight the pandemic would be extended until the end of the month, but he left it to regional authorities to decree their own social distancing measures. Russia’s two biggest and hardest hit cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, went into lockdown this week with residents forbidden to leave their homes except to buy food and medicine, and to walk their dogs within a hundred yards of their residence.

Russia has reported far fewer infected people than hard-hit countries like the United States and Italy, but their numbers have increased fourfold over the past week, to 3,548, with the authorities on Thursday reporting 770 new cases, compared with just 182 new infections a week ago. Thirty coronavirus patients had died in Russia as of Thursday morning, the government said.

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CNN ran a story on American dancer Julian MacKay and his brother Nicholas,  who are stranded in Russia,  along with a number of other Americans.  They are trying to get home to be with their father who is gravely ill.  They were on the last plane out of Moscow when the flight was cancelled.  They are hoping to get out via a chartered flight,  but they are running short of funds.

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28 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

CNN ran a story on American dancer Julian MacKay and his brother Nicholas,  who are stranded in Russia,  along with a number of other Americans.  They are trying to get home to be with their father who is gravely ill.  They were on the last plane out of Moscow when the flight was cancelled.  They are hoping to get out via a chartered flight,  but they are running short of funds.

Good thing(?) their father is not dying from reaction to Covid-19. CNN also runs stories about family members having to use FaceTime calls to say goodbye to the dying. The MacKay's just need to get an actual flight...but that may not happen since the Russian government is likely controlling travel access.

Edited by pherank
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Julian Mackay used to post here early in his training at the Bolshoi Ballet school.  I don't see a link to the CNN interview on his Facebook Page or on his brother's yet, or to a crowd-sourcing campaign.  I wonder if they'll try.  

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I did not get the idea that the MacKay brothers were soliciting funds,  but rather that they were frustrated at having to get off the plane.  They spoke glowingly of their love  for Russian cultural life and the Russian respect for artists.  I don't know much about them,  but I did find it unusual that their parents sent them so far away from home at such young ages,  nine and eleven I believe they said.

Edited by On Pointe
Clarity
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Their mom moved to Moscow, like a lot of ballet and figure skating mothers do in order to get the training they want. (They have two older half sisters who are also professional ballet dancers in Europe.)  It was their idea, and I remember in an interview when Julian Mackay talked about how his brother, who followed in his footsteps, was fluent in Russian in a very short period of time.  I'm not sure how long she stayed.

I'm not sure if Nicholas Mackay has graduated yet, but I've been following Julian Mackay on Facebook for quite a while, and it looks like he's been thriving in Russia.   He had a brief period in London, I think right after he graduated, but Russia is where he wanted to be.

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