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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 7:11 am 
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May I suggest that those interested read Mr. Crabb's article in full and draw their own conclusions as to his opinion of Karen Kain.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 11:22 am 
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Dear Noreen:

I would expect nothing less! I encourage my loyal readers to post their comments after reading the article! FYI: There are about half a dozen copies of Dance International remaining at the World’s Largest Bookstore in Toronto. They only order about a dozen. Hence, not a lot of people are going to pick this up at their local newsstand and it is only carried by a select few. I don’t believe Dance International has a large subscription base here in Canada.

It is reasonable to assume Michael Crabb was making the point that the perception created by the media of Karen Kain as Canada’s Sweetheart is highly misleading. Karen Kain is an adult capable of making difficult decisions and she can be very demanding when the need arises.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 11:40 am 
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I may make the switch to musicals from ballet. I can see Julie Andrews’ The Boyfriend and sit in the best seat in the house for $84. Why is it I can see a musical for half the price of a National Ballet of Canada production? Why? Why?? Why???

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2005 11:51 am 
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I emailed the below to the National Ballet of Canada on Monday, December the 12th and they finally responded on Friday, December the 16th:

Quote:
I’m curious as to whether subscribers will be given the opportunity to tour the Four Seasons before finalizing our seating selections? Also, could you confirm if the below quote from Michael Crabb in Dance International is true?

“This will mean hiring additional dancers and enlarging the operating budget from $20 million to $23 million.”

If so, why is it operating expenses are increasing by 15%, yet ticket prices are going up by 50%?

I’m also curious if Subscriber Rush will be offered at the Four Seasons? Lastly, what will single tickets go for? I assume subscribers will end up paying less?


Steve Cunningham, Manager of Marketing, responded with the below:

Quote:
Dear Mr. Goldbarth,

Your email message was passed along to me from our Box Office. I just wanted to take a minute and answer your questions.

There will not be any tours due to the tight deadlines for construction.

We have increased dancers slowly over the last five years to bring the company back to 1990 levels and to be able to perform 82 performances (currently sixty-eight) in the Four Seasons Centre. The operating budget for 2006/07 is approx. $22 million to cover the increased activity.

Tickets prices vary throughout the house. Some have increased, such as in Orchestra and Grand Ring, while some have remained flat. There is a wide choice of ticket prices and all subscribers can choose what suits them.

Subscriber Rush will be available and details, along with ticket prices, will be available in February.

Subscribers will always get the best seating and prices.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask me.


Well, questions asked, questions answered. I am disappointed subscribers will not be given a tour of the Four Seasons before investing their money in seats. I am also disappointed in Mr. Cunningham’s response to the reason for the 50% hike. He did not adequately respond in my humble opinion. According to Mr. Cunningham some ticket prices
Quote:
“remained flat.”
I must be missing something. Compared to this season, all seats have increased in price. You can view page 1 of this topic for a comparison.

Once again, I think the NBoC is way too optimistic as to the interest in the new theatre and ballet in Toronto.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2005 6:34 pm 
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I emailed the Marketing Manager of the NBoC once again to get answers to my questions.

Questions:

Quote:
Please advise which prices have “remained flat?” * It appears all prices will go up. On average prices have increased by about 50%. What is the justification for increasing prices by 50% when your operating costs have only gone up by 10%? Does operating expenses include rent for the Four Seasons?


Answers:

Quote:
Orchestra 4 in both venues is relatively flat as is Ring 3 in comparison to Balcony 11 & 12 at the Hummingbird. That being said, there really is no seat to equivalency between the two venues. They are very different.

Ticket prices only account for 50% of our operating costs. The rest comes from our fundraising efforts and government. This will not change when we move to the Four Seasons Centre.


My thoughts:

True, we are comparing different venues. However, a reasonable person will agree the 50% increase is obscene. I work in the financial industry and I can assure you if my company raised prices 50% we would go out of business. The problem is the National Ballet of Canada has no real competition as far as ballet is concerned. If they did, they would lose many of their fans.

As for Mr. Cunningham’s comparisons, I don’t get it.

Hummingbird Centre

Orchestra 1&4: $697.50

The Four Seasons

Orchestra 4: $621

How can you compare the best seats at the Hummingbird Centre to the 7th best seats at the Four Seasons?

Hummingbird Centre

Balcony 11&12: $451.50

Four Seasons

Ring Three 1: $807
Ring Three 2: $621
Ring Three 3: $447

How does $807 and $621 compare to $451.50?


* If the National has to raise ticket prices by 50% and still have that cover only 50% of operating costs, there is either a problem with their math or something they’re not sharing with the public. :?

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2005 9:20 pm 
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A few thoughts:

Although I don't have a knowledge of the theatres, your examples of price increase seem convincing to me, Michael.

Another way to look at this is how the prices compare to other similar companies. How many performances does a season ticket cover?

I suspect that 50% from ticket sales is similar to most UK ballet companies and I suspect less than most in continental Europe.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2005 9:42 pm 
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A Season Subscription covers 6 performances. Torontonians are paying more to see the NBoC than they would the Royal Ballet or NYCB. What gives :?:

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2005 9:20 pm 
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Karen Kain, the Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada, was on TVO’s Studio 2 tonight interviewed by Steve Paikin. I feel it obligatory to mention that Karen Kain is the Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada because every time I hear a commercial on Classical 96 I am reminded of that fact – in case I have forgotten that Karen Kain is indeed the Artistic Director of the NBoC.

Karen Kain’s main purpose on the show was to plug her new Nutcracker book and the NBoC. There was actually some new news! Karen Kain, the Artistic Director of the NBoC, hopes the new Four Seasons will be ready for occupation by June of 2006. If so, why is it the National does not arrange one weekend in June to give subscribers a tour before finalizing their subscription seat selections?

(a) They want your money way before that date so they can invest it in government guaranteed bonds to make money on the interest.

(b) Even if we pay up front by their suggested due date, they do not want to make arrangements for changes because they feel it isn’t worth the cost of administering.

(c) They’re not creative enough to make the above offer.

(d) They don’t care!

(e) All of the above!

If you selected ‘all of the above’ you WIN! Mrs. K also said she would like the National to be known as one of the Top 5 ballet companies in the world. She feels we’re close but not close enough. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of those phone in shows where viewers get to ask questions of the guests. By the way, callers are screened and if you ask a question they don’t like, it will be deleted from the show. Yes folks, it’s not live TV and they have full control.

Question: If the NBoC is not ready for the Top 5, why is it fans must pay Top 5 prices to see the National Ballet of Canada dance music to life? In fact, we have to pay more than fans of NYCB and the Royal Ballet. With the top subscription seats costing 60% more, it is reasonable to assume that the top single non-subscription seats will also increase by 60% from $133 to $212.80! Take a date or your wife and you’re shelling out $425.60-not including parking and an overpriced snack at the Four Seasons.

Once again, the National is way over charging for seats. I am personally of the opinion they have a ton of nerve to bump up prices about 50% across the board.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:35 am 
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Mr. Goldbarth --

I would suggest that before you strain something leaping to conclusions, you take a moment to calmly consider things from a broader point of view.

It seems to me that it is pretty reasonable to assume that the management of the NBoC, and of virtually every major ballet company in the world, would be delighted if they could give away tickets for free. And, if they were prepared to have a bunch of nine-year-olds dance Swan Lake on the street corner, clad in pyjamas, accompanied by a wino with a harmonica, they could do this. However, from reading dozens of your prior posts, it is abundantly clear that you and your fellow ballet patrons would find this arrangement less than wholly satisfactory. Consequently, ballet companies must pay for things like dancers' salaries, hall rental, sets, costumes, crews, and orchestras. And, naturally, world class examples of all of these items happen to be fairly expensive. This money must come from somewhere.

Do you think that Kevin Garland -- who is the Executive Director of the NBoC, and I would guess has a lot more to say about ticket prices than the Artistic Director -- sat in her office one day and said, "I have a fantastic idea! Let's jack up ticket prices!" And the Board responded, "Yes, that's a fantastic idea! Send 'em through the roof!" Does this scenario sound reasonable to you? Or does it seem marginally more likely that all parties concerned exhausted every other revenue stream before coming to the reluctant conclusion that raising ticket prices was the only option?

As for your opinions of the mathematics of the situation, I think that perhaps you should consider the arithmetic more closely. If ticket prices covered 50% of a $20 million budget, then that is $10 million in revenue. To increase this to meet a $23 million budget would thus require a 30% increase in revenue from ticket sales -- either through increased sales or increased prices. It would be nice to imagine that the Canada Council, corporate and private donors will all say, "Oh, you've increased your budget? Well, it's only fitting that we increase our donation incrementally as well! Next year, why don't you double your budget and see how much money we throw at you then!" Unfortunately, we live in the real world.

You seem to have decided that prices have increased by 50%; certainly, it is possible to arrange the numbers in a way that supports this. It is also possible to try to compare apples to apples; for instance, you will note that your coveted front-row seats have increased by almost exactly 30%. Part of the issue in trying to compare seats is that there simply are no equivalent seats in the Four Seasons Centre to many of the seats in the Hummingbird Centre. As I'm sure an avid balletomane such as yourself is well aware, the new hall is only about 2/3 as deep as the old one. So the cheap seats in the back of the orchestra simply don't exist any more. Likewise the cheap seats in the rear sections of balcony, which I'm sure you have noticed are not exactly the most popular seats in the house.

There is obviously no denying that ticket prices are increasingly substantially. However, the idea that this is some unfounded cash grab on the part of NBoC management strains the boundaries of credibility beyond breaking.

And that's not even taking into consideration the added expenses that would be incurred if the NBoC took all of your other suggestions into account, which would apparently entail retaining all of their principal dancers into eternity -- not to mention the astonomical medical costs necessitated by having the admittedly lovely Ms. Ogden dance every principal female role each and every night!


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 2:26 am 
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Welcome BalletNewbie and thanks for your perspective on prices in the new theatre.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 11:58 am 
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Welcome to CriticalDance BalletNewbie! It’s always refreshing to hear from someone new with a different pointe of view. Below is my feedback to your feedback!

Quote:
Do you think that Kevin Garland -- who is the Executive Director of the NBoC, and I would guess has a lot more to say about ticket prices than the Artistic Director -- sat in her office one day and said, "I have a fantastic idea! Let's jack up ticket prices!" And the Board responded, "Yes, that's a fantastic idea! Send 'em through the roof!" Does this scenario sound reasonable to you?


My answer to ALL of the above is YES!

Quote:
As for your opinions of the mathematics of the situation, I think that perhaps you should consider the arithmetic more closely. If ticket prices covered 50% of a $20 million budget, then that is $10 million in revenue. To increase this to meet a $23 million budget would thus require a 30% increase in revenue from ticket sales -- either through increased sales or increased prices.


My math works out to 15% because the NBoC relies on donations for the other half to cover off costs. I am aware that the price of a ticket only covers 50% of their costs. Now the National does receive donations and I assume they expect that these donations will be coming and they have budgeted for this. Now they are increasing ticket prices by 50% for next season. How do they know that the other 50% will not be forthcoming for next season? *So why not increase tickets by 30% instead of 50%-assuming donations do not keep pace?

Quote:
You seem to have decided that prices have increased by 50%; certainly, it is possible to arrange the numbers in a way that supports this.


What I did to work out the above number is compare the total cost for each subscription seat from this year and compare it to next year. I guess you could also number crunch based on the number of seats for each seating area but I do not have that information available to me.

Quote:
It is also possible to try to compare apples to apples; for instance, you will note that your coveted front-row seats have increased by almost exactly 30%.


They have actually increased by 60%.

The Math

Grand Ring 1: $1,110

Orchestra 1&4: $697.50

$697.50 x.60 = $418.50 + 697.50 = $1,116. I rounded up to 60%

:cry: A year from now I will cut and paste this when the house is half empty and the NBoC is in financial trouble. You name me any other company in the real business world that jacks up prices by 50% and stays in business. The National lost money last year and had trouble filling the Hummingbird Centre. So, it doesn’t take a math wizard to be seriously concerned as to what effect this will have on ticket sales. :cry:

Quote:
And that's not even taking into consideration the added expenses that would be incurred if the NBoC took all of your other suggestions into account, which would apparently entail retaining all of their principal dancers into eternity -- not to mention the astronomical medical costs necessitated by having the admittedly lovely Ms. Ogden dance every principal female role each and every night!


I plead guilty on all accounts to switching performance dates to see the admittedly lovely Ms. Ogden at every opportunity! By the way, I have also sung the praises of many other dancers. I’m not sure how I gave you the impression that their principal dancers can dance into eternity. I was obviously not pleased that Kimberly Glasco was let go and yes I thought she had a few years left and could possibly coach and perform character roles for the National. I actually stated that I understood the National wanting to let Martine Lamy go because of her age and allowing promising dancers like Heather Ogden assume a greater role.

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Last edited by Michael Goldbarth on Sun Aug 06, 2006 4:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 1:18 pm 
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Mr. Goldbarth --

"My answer to ALL of the above is YES!"

What exactly does this mean? You appear to be agreeing with two mutually contradictory possibilities.

"My math works out to 15% because the NBoC relies on donations for the other half to cover off costs. I am aware that the price of a ticket only covers 50% of their costs. Now the National does receive donations and I assume they expect that these donations will be coming and they have budgeted for this. Now they are increasing ticket prices by 50% for next season. How do they know that the other 50% will not be forthcoming for next season? *So why not increase tickets by 30% instead of 50%-assuming donations do not keep pace?"

You are looking at this from what I would describe as an extremely puzzling perspective. At present, let us assume that the NBoC is relying on fundraising to cover 50% of costs. Now, your assumption seems to be that, for instance, the Canada Council writes the NBoC a blank check and says, "Fill in whatever 10% (or whatever percentage it is) of your budget works out to." Mine is that donors write a check for what they want to write a check for, and that it would take something pretty strong to convince them to donate more -- especially considering that there is a new hall to donate to, an opera company also expanding its season, a symphony orchestra in extremely dire straits; and that doesn't even begin to consider the fact that donations are stretched by humanitarian causes such as the tsunami, earthquake, and hurricanes.

"They have actually increased by 60%."

Again, I would suggest comparing apples to apples. You are comparing the most expensive seats in both houses. I am comparing the front row seats. The price of the Grand Ring (which as far as I can tell is private boxes, not the front row) is really not a good indicator to use, because it represents an entirely new form of seating. There are no box seats at Hummingbird, so it is pretty difficult to find a comparitor, because box seats bring with them added bonuses (like extra leg room -- which as we all know is at a premium in the current house!) in addition to superior sight lines.

My point is that if you compare seats with comparable locations, comparable sightlines, and comparable amenities, I think you will find that the increases aren't so drastic as you're suggesting. The problem is, of course, that the former cheap seats are simply nonexistent in the new hall. So what are they to do?

It is very easy to criticize a decision to raise prices. It is much more difficult to come up with a better idea. The simple arithmetic of the new hall means that running the company is about to become a lot more expensive, because the new house has only 2/3 the seats of the old one. What would you suggest? How would you like the NBoC to pay its bills? You, me, Kevin Garland and Karen Kain would all be pleased as punch if Paul Martin (or whoever forms the next government) simply tacked a $1 Ballet Tax on every man, woman and child in Canada -- there'd be plenty to cover the National's budget, with lots left over for the Royal Winnipeg and Grands Ballets and so on. But somehow I doubt that's going to happen. So, what's the solution?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 2:12 pm 
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Sorry, I made a mistake to my “quote.” I will revise. I am obviously not saying yes to all of the above. Well, I work for a living and hence do not have time to post further until later.

Click HERE for some marketing ideas I posted previously. Bottom-line: If the National has to raise ticket prices by 50%, who can afford to see ballet? It’s ridiculous that I can see the Royal Ballet and NYCB for less money.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 7:16 pm 
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Well, I have returned from toiling in Toronto to my comfy estate in Stouffville! Things certainly are heating up for the NBoC section of CD! Wow! Where have you been all these years BalletNewbie?

My GO-Train ride home afforded me the time to collect my thoughts. First off, I think we should be using the $22 million figure for operating costs as this number was provided to me by Steve Cunningham, Manager of Marketing for the NBoC. The $23 million figure was provided by a very reliable source: Michael Crabb. BalletNewbie made a good point, donations may not keep pace with the increase and hence you could view costs rising by 20%. I would hope the new theatre will attract more subscribers and curious single ticket buyers. I don’t see how they can justify a 50% increase to offset that 20%?

BalletNewbie is of the opinion that the Four Seasons offers a better pointe of view and hence ballet fans should pay for it. I am of the opinion that the better view and acoustics should be used to attract new fans and reward long suffering fans. Of course, some have suffered more than others. Not everyone can sit in Row A Orchestra and row AA in the Mezzanine. There were times when I actually had to sit in row B and BB. We all suffer in our own way. Nonetheless, I suffered! I want to know where the other 30% will be going?
Let’s crunch the numbers as BalletNewbie suggested and eliminate both Grand Rings. At that point, subscriptions will be goosed by 33.5%. By the way, the National eliminated the reduced pricing for Weekend matinées. From the pamphlet providing simulated views, I am not impressed by the Orchestra seats. And as usual, the National missed an opportunity to win fans over by not holding a tour before we finalized are seating selections.

Quote:
“Likewise the cheap seats in the rear sections of balcony, which I'm sure you have noticed are not exactly the most popular seats in the house.”


I enjoyed an :lol: LOL :lol: at the above! In the 80s and 90s, those seats actually SOLD OUT for subscriptions! Many people took advantage of the National’s generous Subscriber Rush Policy allowing fans to sit in whatever was leftover. Often they would move down from their Oxygen Mask seat to the Orchestra in the double letters. The NBoC ended that with their new Horse Shoe Policy – meaning you were limited to seats to the sides and recently they stopped allowing you to move up from your pricing area. FYI: I never abused their generosity but know of plenty of very wealthy fans who did. I have written to the National about this very issue over the decades and called them but nobody even bothered to respond with a thank you note! I used to donate to the ballet but stopped after they told Kimberly Glasco to take her pointe shoes elsewhere.

I am of the opinion the increase in ticket prices will backfire:

(a) Fans may decide to downgrade their seats.

(b) Fans may decide not to renew at all.

(c) Fans may decide to ‘buddy up’ and then use Subscriber Rush. In effect, sharing a subscription package.

(d) Fans may decide to pay for a higher priced subscription package and then lower or stop their donation to the ballet.

I appreciate your passion and feedback BalletNewbie but unfortunately my Crystal Ball is usually right. You and I and a few others who post on a regular basis love ballet. Most people in Toronto would prefer to see a movie or the Leafs or the Blue Jays. Asides from some creative marketing strategies, I do not have a miracle cure or millions of dollars to donate to the National Ballet of Canada.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 11:36 am 
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Where are you BalletNewbie?

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