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ABT launches ABT Crisis Relief Fund


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From the company:

AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE LAUNCHES
ABT CRISIS RELIEF FUND IN SUPPORT OF ABT ARTISTS

American Ballet Theatre’s artists – dancers, production crew, rehearsal pianists and ballet masters  directly impacted by the loss of income due to canceled tour engagements in four cities this spring are now receiving supplemental benefits and financial support through the newly established ABT Crisis Relief Fund. The Fund, created by ABT, will help to sustain the Company’s artists through the turbulent period resulting from the COVID-19 state of emergency.

“With our March and April tours canceled and our studios closed, we want to keep our community strong and our artists supported,” said ABT Executive Director Kara Medoff Barnett. “Ballet is a team sport. During this time when individuals are physically distant from one another, we want them to know that they are not alone. We will rely on our artists  their collaborative spirit and their collective optimism  for inspiration during this crisis and for healing on the other side of it.”

Funds raised through the ABT Crisis Relief Fund will provide direct assistance to ABT’s artists. For information on how to donate and for continued updates on American Ballet Theatre, please visit www.abt.org.

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24 minutes ago, Longtimelurker said:

Does this mean that the company is not paying its dancers during this period?

I assume that is the case, as they are currently laid off for 5 weeks.

Edited by nanushka
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4 hours ago, nanushka said:

I assume that is the case, as they are currently laid off for 5 weeks.

They weren’t supposed to be on a lay-off as they had tours to Chicago, Detroit, Durham and the Abu Dhabi scheduled for the spring that were canceled. That’s a significant amount of income for the dancers to lose if the company is not compensating them and would be financially devastating if that sets a precedent for how they would handle the cancellation of the Met season.

nanushka, I just noticed in the NYCB Spring Season Cancellation thread that you posted that they would continue to pay their dancers. I truly hope that ABT is taking care of their dancers in the same manner!

Edited by Longtimelurker
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7 hours ago, Longtimelurker said:

They weren’t supposed to be on a lay-off as they had tours to Chicago, Detroit, Durham and the Abu Dhabi scheduled for the spring that were canceled. That’s a significant amount of income for the dancers to lose if the company is not compensating them and would be financially devastating if that sets a precedent for how they would handle the cancellation of the Met season.

nanushka, I just noticed in the NYCB Spring Season Cancellation thread that you posted that they would continue to pay their dancers. I truly hope that ABT is taking care of their dancers in the same manner!

No, they weren't supposed to be laid off, but when the tours got canceled, the company laid them off for 5 weeks (beginning around the start of last week, I believe). Numerous dancers reported this on social media.

NYCB seems not to have laid everyone off, as the recent NYT article about the spring season cancellation reports. Unless the ABT dancers were using the term in an unusual manner, ABT's layoff likely entails no pay. (ABT does not have nearly the financial resources that NYCB has.) I believe the company has set up this Crisis Relief Fund in order to try to ameliorate that.

 

Edited by nanushka
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1 hour ago, Leah said:

It’s sad but it’s to be expected. I was surprised that NYCB was even able to pay everyone.

Why is that to be expected? Some others have mentioned that NYCB is stronger financially, but is the difference so large that not paying the dancers is necessary? I recall that some smaller companies are paying their dancers during their cancelled seasons (Colorado Ballet for example), so I would have a hard time believing that those companies are stronger financially than ABT. I think that not paying dancers should be an absolute last resort for a dance company. Perhaps ABT is being penny wise and pound foolish in the message it is sending regarding the value that it places on their dancers, and this could result in the company having more difficulty in attracting top talent in the future. They work too hard and are too skilled to be treated in a disposable manner. Is the financial situation at ABT really that bad?

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8 minutes ago, Longtimelurker said:

Why is that to be expected? Some others have mentioned that NYCB is stronger financially, but is the difference so large that not paying the dancers is necessary? I recall that some smaller companies are paying their dancers during their cancelled seasons (Colorado Ballet for example), so I would have a hard time believing that those companies are stronger financially than ABT.

Just one data point (and there are obviously many other factors involved), according to the company website, Colorado Ballet has 32 dancers across its ranks, from principal to apprentice. ABT has 91.

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ABT also mounts rather extravagant full length productions that it has to move around frequently on tours. The added overhead has to be substantial. It’s also resorted to performing on cruise ships, which cannot be a good sign of its financial stability.

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2 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Just one data point (and there are obviously many other factors involved), according to the company website, Colorado Ballet has 32 dancers across its ranks, from principal to apprentice. ABT has 91.

Colorado is only paying people for the final four weeks of the contract. ABT would be cancelling a much longer season. But please note that the financial supporters of regional companies like Colorado tend to be local, while ABT "Friends" are national/international. I've been impressed that so many community leaders provide major support for the Colorado company, and I suspect that's also true for other successful regional companies around the country. Of course, right now there are major demands from all over the non-profit horizon on all these generous supporters.

The Senate bill now pending in the House includes support for non-profit cultural organizations to pay salaries, benefits, rent, utilities, etc. They are also eligible for loans from the Small Business Administration which will be forgiven if they keep people on the payroll. 

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/25/politics/trump-kennedy-center-funding-stimulus/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/24/arts/coronavirus-arts-bailout.html

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The Colorado Ballet's orchestra is smaller, and their page on the Colorado Ballet website says that they play in three of four productions.  They didn't update to the fifth added (back?) for 2019-20, but the last program was to be Petite Mort, In the Upper Room, and Theme & Variations (added later).  Was the orchestra scheduled to play for this program?  (The 2019-20 season link resolves to "page not found.")

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1 minute ago, Helene said:

The Colorado Ballet's orchestra is smaller, and their page on the Colorado Ballet website says that they play in three of four productions.  They didn't update to the fifth added (back?) for 2019-20, but the last program was to be Petite Mort, In the Upper Room, and Theme & Variations (added later).  Was the orchestra scheduled to play for this program?  (The 2019-20 season link resolves to "page not found.")

They used recorded music for the Tour de Force March 6-8. They would have used the orchestra for the final performance, at least for Petite Mort and T&V, which I've seen them do before. Not sure about Upper Room.

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Thank you, @California!  Upper Room is Glass, and I've seen it performed live and recorded, depending on the company and theater.  (Not default to recordings, like Sinatra and maybe Catherine Wheel.  I don't think anyone has ever done a Hershy Kay on David Byrne :) )

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A few thoughts regarding ABT's - at times - precarious financial situation . . .

ABT was never as fiscally sound as the New York City Ballet in part because of an overreliance on Lucia Chase's personal fortune to get them through hard times. Eventually, the company did get serious about diversifying its fundraising but that was a late development compared to other companies.

In addition, various shocks over the past 30 years have compounded ABT's fiscal problems. The profligacy of the Baryshnikov era left the company so deeply in debt by 1992 that everyone thought the company would fold permanently. So certain was the expectation of an implosion that no one was willing to take on leadership of the company except Kevin Mckenzie.

As fate would have it, this kicked off a new Golden Age at ABT as McKenzie, starting with a base that included Julio Bocca, Alessandra Ferri, Susan Jaffe, Julie Kent and Amanda McKerrow, added such future bold-faced names as Max Beloserkovsky, Jose Manuel Carreno, Angel Corella, Irina Dvorovenko, Paloma Herrera, Vladimir Malakhov and Ethan Steifel. He also developed in-house stars such as Herman Cornejo, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg and Gillian Murphy.

Even during this Golden Age, though, ABT had to contend with various fiscal crises. There was the dot.com implosion in 2000 which hindered fundraising and then the much larger and more serious Great Recession of 2008. So, for every financial gain the company has made over time, it has also endured some fairly significant financial shocks which have often set them back for years.

One more point to make: Before anyone praises the New York City Ballet to the heavens for keeping its dancers on salary, let's not forget that in 2008 they released all those dancers they deemed expendable as a response to the Great Recession. ABT, in contrast, worked out an arrangement with its dancers so that everyone took a pay cut but no one lost their jobs. I dare say that the New York City Ballet's response in 2020 is in part a reflection of how much bad press it received for its actions back in 2008.

 

 

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1 hour ago, miliosr said:

A few thoughts regarding ABT's - at times - precarious financial situation . . .

ABT was never as fiscally sound as the New York City Ballet in part because of an overreliance on Lucia Chase's personal fortune to get them through hard times. Eventually, the company did get serious about diversifying its fundraising but that was a late development compared to other companies.

In addition, various shocks over the past 30 years have compounded ABT's fiscal problems. The profligacy of the Baryshnikov era left the company so deeply in debt by 1992 that everyone thought the company would fold permanently. So certain was the expectation of an implosion that no one was willing to take on leadership of the company except Kevin Mckenzie.

As fate would have it, this kicked off a new Golden Age at ABT as McKenzie, starting with a base that included Julio Bocca, Alessandra Ferri, Susan Jaffe, Julie Kent and Amanda McKerrow, added such future bold-faced names as Max Beloserkovsky, Jose Manuel Carreno, Angel Corella, Irina Dvorovenko, Paloma Herrera, Vladimir Malakhov and Ethan Steifel. He also developed in-house stars such as Herman Cornejo, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg and Gillian Murphy.

Even during this Golden Age, though, ABT had to contend with various fiscal crises. There was the dot.com implosion in 2000 which hindered fundraising and then the much larger and more serious Great Recession of 2008. So, for every financial gain the company has made over time, it has also endured some fairly significant financial shocks which have often set them back for years.

One more point to make: Before anyone praises the New York City Ballet to the heavens for keeping its dancers on salary, let's not forget that in 2008 they released all those dancers they deemed expendable as a response to the Great Recession. ABT, in contrast, worked out an arrangement with its dancers so that everyone took a pay cut but no one lost their jobs. I dare say that the New York City Ballet's response in 2020 is in part a reflection of how much bad press it received for its actions back in 2008.

 

 

Thank you for such a detailed recap of ABT’s financial situation. Hopefully the company can get to a point where it is more easily able to weather economic downturns.

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Patrick Frenette has posted on his Instagram, on more than one occasion since this crisis started, his frustrations trying to get through to New York’s unemployment office. I think the crisis fund is also meant to support not only the dancers, but also the pianists, stage managers, foreign dancers who aren’t eligible for unemployment, and others impacted by the unexpected layoff. 

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I think the government agencies are not prepared for the massive number of people who are applying for unemployment benefits. 😞😢

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On 3/27/2020 at 7:47 AM, nanushka said:

No, they weren't supposed to be laid off, but when the tours got canceled, the company laid them off for 5 weeks (beginning around the start of last week, I believe). Numerous dancers reported this on social media.

NYCB seems not to have laid everyone off, as the recent NYT article about the spring season cancellation reports. Unless the ABT dancers were using the term in an unusual manner, ABT's layoff likely entails no pay. (ABT does not have nearly the financial resources that NYCB has.) I believe the company has set up this Crisis Relief Fund in order to try to ameliorate that.

 

This is so very sad. What a terrible situation. 
 

On 3/28/2020 at 1:39 AM, MoMo said:

I think the government agencies are not prepared for the massive number of people who are applying for unemployment benefits. 😞😢

This is so true. My brother has to apply and he says its a nightmare. So sad. 

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On 3/27/2020 at 5:36 PM, miliosr said:

A few thoughts regarding ABT's - at times - precarious financial situation . . .

ABT was never as fiscally sound as the New York City Ballet in part because of an overreliance on Lucia Chase's personal fortune to get them through hard times. Eventually, the company did get serious about diversifying its fundraising but that was a late development compared to other companies.

In addition, various shocks over the past 30 years have compounded ABT's fiscal problems. The profligacy of the Baryshnikov era left the company so deeply in debt by 1992 that everyone thought the company would fold permanently. So certain was the expectation of an implosion that no one was willing to take on leadership of the company except Kevin Mckenzie.

As fate would have it, this kicked off a new Golden Age at ABT as McKenzie, starting with a base that included Julio Bocca, Alessandra Ferri, Susan Jaffe, Julie Kent and Amanda McKerrow, added such future bold-faced names as Max Beloserkovsky, Jose Manuel Carreno, Angel Corella, Irina Dvorovenko, Paloma Herrera, Vladimir Malakhov and Ethan Steifel. He also developed in-house stars such as Herman Cornejo, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg and Gillian Murphy.

Even during this Golden Age, though, ABT had to contend with various fiscal crises. There was the dot.com implosion in 2000 which hindered fundraising and then the much larger and more serious Great Recession of 2008. So, for every financial gain the company has made over time, it has also endured some fairly significant financial shocks which have often set them back for years.

One more point to make: Before anyone praises the New York City Ballet to the heavens for keeping its dancers on salary, let's not forget that in 2008 they released all those dancers they deemed expendable as a response to the Great Recession. ABT, in contrast, worked out an arrangement with its dancers so that everyone took a pay cut but no one lost their jobs. I dare say that the New York City Ballet's response in 2020 is in part a reflection of how much bad press it received for its actions back in 2008.

 

 

Miliosr, thank you for this perspective, which illustrates how companies variously respond to crises, depending on their personal circumstances, fortunes and leadership. 

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If you were looking for another incentive to donate to ABT's Crisis Relief fund, here it is, just announced: Donors will get access next week to a tape of the 2007 filming of ABT’s production of Manon . . . with Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle, along with Herman Cornejo as Manon’s brother Lescaut, and Gillian Murphy as Lescaut’s Mistress.

Edited by California
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16 hours ago, California said:

If you were looking for another incentive to donate to ABT's Crisis Relief fund, here it is, just announced: Donors will get access next week to a tape of the 2007 filming of ABT’s production of Manon . . . with Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle, along with Herman Cornejo as Manon’s brother Lescaut, and Gillian Murphy as Lescaut’s Mistress.

If we’re looking for another reason to be upset and baffled by ABT’s lack of streaming/video offerings, this is it. They have a tape of *this cast* in *Manon* and it’s only being offered to donors?! And, why have they been sitting on this for 13 years, or have it I missed it somewhere (unlikely)?? 
 

ABT: put this video, and any others you’re letting collect dust, up on your website or your YouTube page, available to ALL.

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11 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

If we’re looking for another reason to be upset and baffled by ABT’s lack of streaming/video offerings, this is it. They have a tape of *this cast* in *Manon* and it’s only being offered to donors?! And, why have they been sitting on this for 13 years, or have it I missed it somewhere (unlikely)?? 
 

ABT: put this video, and any others you’re letting collect dust, up on your website or your YouTube page, available to ALL.

In fairness, PNB asked for a donation to get access to their Giselle. I'm guessing ABT had to get permission from Dame MacMillan and perhaps many others to post this one.  (the performers? the musicians? the unions?)

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1 hour ago, California said:

In fairness, PNB asked for a donation to get access to their Giselle. I'm guessing ABT had to get permission from Dame MacMillan and perhaps many others to post this one.  (the performers? the musicians? the unions?)

I think it's perfectly legit for performing arts companies to ask for a donation in exchange for access to material video content, especially full-length performance videos or "gala evenings" assembled from archival video footage not otherwise available. The companies need to raise money and they will also likely need to pay something to the various rights holders (and other stakeholders) out of their proceeds in any event. And, if they didn't secure the right array of digital and broadcast rights when they made the video, they're going to have to pay their lawyers to negotiate for them after the fact. A performing arts organization may secure the rights to make a video for archival / training purposes when they license a work, but not the rights to broadcast or otherwise disseminate the video. If they want to make that footage public, they need to get permission first.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell
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The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet and National Ballet of Japan are some of the companies that have streamed MacMillan ballets during the pandemic. Only the Royal Ballet's videos had been intended for public broadcast, and the others varied in video and sound quality. Some were available for one day, others for a month. None of those companies is based in the U.S., of course, though we've all be watching streams from American troupes that got the necessary permissions. 

(P.S. It's Lady MacMillan. She wasn't the one knighted. But one of the reasons I refuse to use the title is that the same courtesy isn't extended to husbands of Dames.)

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7 minutes ago, volcanohunter said:

The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet and National Ballet of Japan are some of the companies that have streamed MacMillan ballets during the pandemic. Only the Royal Ballet's videos had been intended for public broadcast, and the others varied in video and sound quality. Some were available for one day, others for a month. None of those companies is based in the U.S., of course, though we've all be watching streams from American troupes that got the necessary permissions. 

(P.S. It's Lady MacMillan. She wasn't the one knighted. But one of the reasons I refuse to use the title is that the same courtesy isn't extended to husbands of Dames.)

Apologies to Lady MacMillan! Like many Americans, I have trouble keeping all those titles straight.

I hope that ABT has serious fund-raising success with this Manon and is encouraged to pursue more. It looks like we have a long drought ahead this fall from live performances.  Perhaps their Ratmansky Sleeping Beauty or Nutcracker with early casts?

 

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