How about a budget for a PR program that focuses on identity and image that builds a long term relationship with the community so that you don't have to depend so heavily on marketing from program to program and from season to season? One reason for the pandering to salacious audiences is the relatively small size of the ballet-savvy crowd and nothing done to grow a bigger intelligent audience.
To quote myself above:
There has to be emphasis on identity marketing instead so that you build a relationship with the community and have a strong audience base no matter what you're performing this season, next season or ten seasons to come!
Unfortunately, I have seen income at dance companies exhausted within weeks as they come in, with the money spent on the most pressing needs, such as wages, rent, and bills, with whatever is left over going towards marketing for the next program and sometimes if they really have money left over for the next season.
Usually there isn't much of a continuity in marketing from season to season because turnover rate among the administrative staff is typically high -- in such cases, there is no high-level thinking or staff-level execution of a longterm PR strategy. I don't even think they've even had the time or the desire to seek the ultimate "silver bullet."
And this is the case for many small for-profit businesses as well. It boggles my mind that so many companies have no mission statement or a business plan (other than the one they wrote many years ago to get a business loan that they never looked at again). It's hard to create long term plans when you're overworked and trying to survive from week to week.
Now, there are some ballet organizations that do it right. One in particular consistenly spends a lavish amount of money on the details, such as mylar invitations, pre-season announcements on heavy cardstock, high-definition photos in their brochures that are professionally designed, etc. etc. -- and all this for just regular people on their mailing list! There's a prestige associated with that company which in turn leads to a large and loyal following as well as a large donor base.
Smaller companies can do similar things on a lesser scale. However, one suggestion I had for a then-young arts organization was "Unless you're striving to be a regional, semi-amateur outfit, don't do it if it doesn't look nice," meaning if you can afford only plain paper for a newsletter, then don't do it -- save the money to enhance the brochure instead. If you really need to do it, pick up the phone instead: get services and materials donated.
But like I said, it's hard and I don't envy those making a career out of it. We really owe Executive Directors, General Managers, PR and Marketing personnel and administrative staff more than we know for keeping professional ballet thriving!