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 Post subject: Pacific Northwest Ballet Annual Meeting, 9/13/01
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2001 11:06 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 14250
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Notwithstanding the somber atmosphere created by the week's cataclysmic tragedy, Pacific Northwest Ballet's annual meeting proceeded apace on Thursday, September 13, 2001 at 4:00 p.m. in Studio C at the Phelps Center, PNB's home studios. Opening the meeting, Board Chair Cathi Hatch acknowledged the events that were on everyone's mind and stressed the social relevance of cultural institutions as sources of strength and constancy in times of trial and pain.<P>Mark Levine, President of PONCHO (Patrons of Northwest Cultural and Charitable Organizations) presented a check for $200,000 to Ms. Hatch. PONCHO, together with the Corporate Council for the Arts, provides one of the two largest single sources of sustained operations funding for Seattle arts organizations. PONCHO's funds are raised primarily through a gala annual auction, held in the Spring, and a wine auction, held in the Fall. In addition to PNB's $200K share of the main funding pool, PNB led all other organizations in securing items for the auction, resulting in an additional check for $30,000.<P>Peter Donnelly, President of the Corporate Council for the Arts, next addressed the meeting. He focused his remarks on the differing needs of arts organizations as they move from fledglings toward maturity. He correctly noted that, unlike newer organizations, mature organizations are beset with very high expectations all around. He suggested that at some point, mature organizations need to learn to resist diffusing their energies and resources by learning to say "no" to some potentially attractive opportunities that may arrive "over the transom," and continually refine their activities to maximize the benefit to their core mission. He re-emphasized that each organization, particularly major institutions, should place the highest priority on the building, enhancing and sustaining cash reserves and endowment funds. The opening of new facilities (such as the renovated Opera House) brings its own sense of heightened performance expectations. Seattle has moved beyond the "multipurpose hall" stage of development and into an era of maturity symbolized by the city's commitment to building highly specialized facilities for each of its major arts disciplines.<P>Among those elected or re-elected to Board positions, it is noteworthy that Susan Brotman, a former chair, is now the chair of the Pacific Nortwest Ballet Foundation (cf., the discussion on endowment funds) and James Raisbeck was elected to the PNB Board for the first time. Ms. Brotman is married to Jeffrey Brotman, the founder of Costco; Mr. Raisbeck is chair of a foundation that provides a revolving account that never falls below $1 million to produce sustained income to support PNB touring. <P>Overall financial results for 2000-01 were positive. Ticket sales and school revenue increased by 12%; contributed income by 2%. Including a $500,000 increase in the marketing budget, the net operations revenue was in the black by $300,000.<P>Ms. Hatch announced that Patty Barker's Gala scheduled for Friday, September 14 would be rescheduled for a date in October. The elaborate floral arrangments designed as centerpieces for the $245/person celebration banquet were free for the taking.<P>By way of encouragement to those who may still be reticent about the effects of the company's vacation of the Opera House for the adjacent Mercer Arts Arena for the 18-month duration of the Opera House renovation project, Ms. Hatch mentioned that sightlines were likely to be enhanced during the stay in the Arena. The company will continue to present full productions with orchestra in the temporary venue.<P>Kent Stowell opened on a personal note. One of Kent and Francia's non-dancing sons is a chef and was at the James Beard House in New York preparing for a banquet on Tuesday morning. While the banquet was cancelled, the assembled chefs turned their efforts toward feeding fire and rescue workers. He indicated that the events of the week have reminded him that dance is very much in the "now," and that each day is precious. He is proud to be part of an institution that he hopes will provide evidence of a sustained artistic continuum, much as he feels has been provided by the Maryinski/Kirov and the Royal Ballet, both of which he cited as examples of beacons of hope through revolution and war.<P>Francia Russell spoke of her pride in the PNB School. She believes that the School's success is due to an emphasis on developing the "whole dancer," on developing and maximizing the potential of each faculty and staff member, and in the its outreach activities to continuously seek out and draw in new students, as represented by the Dance Chance program. 2000-01 saw record school enrollment and income. Curriculum expansion has been made initially possible by some targeted grant funding. The 2000 summer program was significantly enhanced by the overlapping presence of the Corps de Ballet meeting (Corps de Ballet members are teachers of ballet in institutions of higher education) and the biennial Workshop for Teachers. She is especially pleased that the graduates of the School continue to be represented at a high level (ca. 60%) in the company. And that there are now five former company members who are "giving back" as members of the faculty of the School.<P>The highlight of the meeting was a lecture/demonstration by PNB School students, a sampling of 3-5 students from each level in the School, Level 2 through the Professional Division. As a veteran of a great many Board and Annual meetings of myriad arts organizations, I have always admired PNB for its ability to bring the meeting attendees back to the core reasons for the organization's existence -- the continuum of training, performing and teaching. Victoria Pulkkinen, the School's curriculum supervisor, led the students through a sequence of exercises to demonstrate to the members of the board and funding community what happens with a tendu exercise (and others) from Level 2 to Professional. Especially this week, this was absolutely the right closing note.

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