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 Post subject: National Ballet of Canada Financial Woes
PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 12:11 pm 
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In the Windsor Star, Susan Walker reports on the disappointing 2004-05 fiscal picture for NBoC, with box office revenue "underperforming" to the tune of $541,000 over the previous season.

Susan Walker


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 2:58 pm 
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If this is a one-off, then I would hazard that it is not a huge shortfall for a company of the size of NBoC. However, if it is part of a long-term trend that is a concern.

For comparison, English National Ballet (around 60 dancers) had a severe financial crisis this year with a cumulative deficit of over $4m. This was paid for by Arts Council England as a one-off payment and, no doubt, a reading of the Riot Act to the Board and senior management.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:48 am 
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A couple of observations...
Kain knew the financial situation when she took on the job and I suspect she has some sort of game plan in mind to both manage the debt and also find the $'s needed for the move into the Four Seasons Opera House. And secondly, this year's season is heavy on the big classics (Swan Lake, La Sylphide and R & J) so the box office revenue should be stable.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 11:21 am 
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I unearthed the below deep within the very bowels of Critical Dance to fully substantiate my pointe:

Quote:
Michael Goldbarth
Joined: 27 May 2000
Posts: 710
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 7:31 pm Post subject: Re: National Ballet of Canada 2003-2004

Okay, I found time to finish off my thoughts.

#1. If you told me my subscription seats for the new ballet theatre would be reserved despite not renewing for next season, guess what? I would pass the pointe shoe on the entire season! It’s that bad. I’m predicting an all-time LOW for single ticket sales. The only ballet that creates excitement is The Italian Straw Hat. Madame Butterfly (2001) is still too fresh in my memory and so is the Contract (2002). I thought perhaps the National would bring the Contract out of mothballs for the 100-year anniversary of James Kudelka’s death. Should I be fortunate enough to live that long, being forced to watch it a 2nd time will no doubt make me look forward to the afterlife!


They have only themselves to blame for the deficit! They do not know who their fans are. They do not care who their fans are. They only make ballet (the Contract) and hold onto dancers (Kimberly Glasco) for political reasons and political reasons alone. This is not a serious problem at the moment-more like a serious warning of dancing on a future paved with quicksand. I’ve been through this before but will write it again. The NBoC is moving into the Four Seasons where it will cost more to present ballet. The NBoC is jacking up ticket prices to create additional revenue for the move. If the National cannot fill the Four Seasons, guess who pays? Me and you-that’s who!

They will jack up ticket prices further to meet their rising costs. That’s kind of like redeeming from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan to meet a current debt. Yes you clear up the debt but then your banking institution issues you a T4 and you must settle this up with Revenue Canada. Keep going into your RRSP and you’ll have nothing left when you retire-forcing you to live an unacceptable lifestyle or forcing you to work part time at a fast food establishment to make ends meet.

Jack up ticket prices and you lose fans. Then you jack up prices to make up for the lost fans. It’s a very vicious cycle. The current situation is obviously much more serious than the NBoC is willing to admit. They replaced 3 new ballets this season with ballets already in their repertoire. If the NBoC cannot create new ballet fans, they will suffer artistically; they will suffer where it hurts most (the bottom line), and if the situation becomes bad enough, the government will have to step in to keep the institution alive. I hope I don’t have to cut and paste this 4 or 5 years down the road to make another point.

Dear Noreen:

Karen Kain’s game plan is to ask fans like you and me to pay more for our seats and for us to give to the National. Of course, KK will also ask the government and big business for more handouts. Good luck! There is a giving fatigue out there after all the floods and earthquakes on top of every other charity banging on our door! Most people are barely making ends meet to ensure CEOs make multi millions! It used to be our tax dollars would go towards worthy causes like cancer research. I have no idea where our tax dollars are going in Canada. Every day a new scandal hits another level of government. Click HERE for a story about Greg Sorbara resigning after the RCMP raided his family’s business. The average Canadian distrusts their own government and also distrusts where their charitable donations are going.

I haven’t seen any game plan from the National to create new ballet fans. They would be wise to look at how the Stratford Festival operates in this regards. They place a high priority on planting seeds to create fans and especially to attracting youth. The NBoC’s current audience is very much like God’s Waiting Room! The plan? There is no plan. Not one that I am privy to anyway.

I do predict they will make money this season. It’s a much more attractive season for subscribers, casual ticket buyers, and for attracting new fans. There are some of you out there who may think me a little strong in my opinions and perhaps a tad impatient! I am guilty on all counts! I just returned from a trip to the Stratford Festival. There were no cabs waiting for theatre buffs who decided to commute via VIA Rail! Not one! Most cabbies are quite aware of train schedules as this is revenue for them. I saw no cab and hence walked to my B&B. The walk was only 20 minutes but was a bit of a struggle with my luggage. I have no patience. The time for creative action is NOW! Karen Kain addressed my concern in her opening statement when she assumed the role of AD:

Quote:
“I also believe it is vitally important that the National Ballet once again assert its place in the lives and general consciousness of the Canadian public. Our company is a national treasure, and we cannot let it recede from the dominant position it has always occupied in the country’s cultural landscape and the hearts of our audience. To this end we need to make strategic investments in audience development and outreach programs. I want to make the experience of great ballet a more instinctive and central part of people’s daily lives both through performances that set the standard for excellence in the arts and through programs that allow us to build and connect with the ballet-going public. All of us, everyone involved with the National Ballet, must be advocates for the company and ambassadors for our art to the community and the nation. The fastest way for our company to lose its direction and sense of purpose is to lose contact with our audience; the best way of ensuring not just our survival, but our centrality and ongoing relevance, is to build bridges to them.”


So, what’s the plan to achieve the above?

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Last edited by Michael Goldbarth on Fri Oct 14, 2005 1:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 1:19 pm 
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By the way, the story posted by Francis Timlin is the exact same story I posted. His story can be found by searching the National Post. I must assume Michael Crabb was unavailable and hence the Post decided to pick up Susan Walker’s story.

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The world revolves around the beauty of the ballerina.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 5:16 pm 
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I know someone will argue that Karen Kain just got the job and needs some time. Well, Mrs. K. has held the title of Artistic Associate since 1999. She watches many of the ballets. She knows what ballets attract audiences – and what ballets do not. She has very good eyesight. She doesn’t need to see the ticket sales for a night to know whether or not the National had a good night. She can see the geezers outnumber the 20 to 30 age bracket. I want to know exactly what she’s going to do to get the NBoC back on its pointe shoes!

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The world revolves around the beauty of the ballerina.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 10:57 am 
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Sorry, Michael, but you must allow a new AD time to develop an implementation strategy. For one thing, she must convince the Board, the dancers and the other staff of her strategy before going public. The whole art of change management is taking the various groups along with you. Fail to do that and your plans will be opposed and sabotaged.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 1:26 pm 
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Of course, Stuart makes a valid point. Given Karen Kain’s stature with the NBoC I can’t help but think she has been aware of financial woes for years and one would think had brought up possible solutions during meetings. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps their lack of new fans has just dawned upon the entire company recently.

They better speed up their decision process because the entertainment market is very competitive. Unfortunately, the NBoC doesn’t view themselves strictly as ENTERTAINMENT. They better start. They no longer have the luxury of making ballet for themselves. If they continue on a path of creating ‘contract’ ballets, they will have to be saved from themselves by the government.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 6:19 pm 
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I know ballet companies are hurting worldwide but why is it the National is just reacting and acknowledging an attendance problem to the public now? They should have taken action years ago. They need to invest some of their budget into creating new YOUNGER fans!

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 1:31 pm 
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Toba Singer Posted: 27 Oct 2005 06:36 pm

It sounds like the worlds of politics and dance are inextricably linked in this case, Michael. I have a suspicion you can propose a way for Canada to pay for transportation AND ballet, so that old people without legs can take public transportation to see the NBC perform.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 1:47 pm 
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Quote:
I know ballet companies are hurting worldwide but why is it the National is just reacting and acknowledging an attendance problem to the public now? They should have taken action years ago. They need to invest some of their budget into creating new YOUNGER fans!


How do you concretely know they haven't been? Do you have any idea of what it takes to roll out new campaigns? The time, money and energy invested often results in NO results. Marketing is a crap shoot, believe me I know. So instead of focusing an inordinate amount of negative energy at the NBOC, why not try some positive energy and focusing (here) on all that they do right.

If it were all so easy and great results took place over night, then every arts org and/or non-profit organization would be highy, highly successful and this thread would not exist at cd.com

8)


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 7:15 am 
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Quote:
So instead of focusing an inordinate amount of negative energy at the NBOC, why not try some positive energy and focusing (here) on all that they do right.

Thank you David.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 5:59 pm 
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Quote:
Toba Singer



Joined: 26 Jan 2002
Posts: 246
Location: Where little cable cars climb halfway to the barres
Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 11:36 am Post subject:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It sounds like the worlds of politics and dance are inextricably linked in this case, Michael. I have a suspicion you can propose a way for Canada to pay for transportation AND ballet, so that old people without legs can take public transportation to see the NBC perform.
_________________
"If there are skeletons in your closet, you'd best teach them to dance."

George Bernard Shaw


Yes I believe I have the creative juice to bring the fans back in and treat the less fortunate to free performances.

Quote:
DavidH



Joined: 22 Sep 2000
Posts: 666
Location: California
Posted: 27 Oct 2005 07:47 pm Post subject:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
I know ballet companies are hurting worldwide but why is it the National is just reacting and acknowledging an attendance problem to the public now? They should have taken action years ago. They need to invest some of their budget into creating new YOUNGER fans!


How do you concretely know they haven't been? Do you have any idea of what it takes to roll out new campaigns? The time, money and energy invested often results in NO results. Marketing is a crap shoot, believe me I know. So instead of focusing an inordinate amount of negative energy at the NBOC, why not try some positive energy and focusing (here) on all that they do right.

If it were all so easy and great results took place over night, then every arts org and/or non-profit organization would be highy, highly successful and this thread would not exist at cd.com


You have obviously given up. Sure the National has tried little things to promote themselves but on the whole you have to admit their promotional department is fast asleep. They don’t even have an NBoC poster up at the Four Seasons Centre! James Kudelka couldn’t give away C-notes on the street. Karen Kain is nothing more than a figurehead. The National needs an Artistic Director who can plan a season, motivate staff, and sell the ballet. Sadly the NBoC can’t come up with a catchy phrase to seduce people to see the National Ballet of Canada dance music to life!

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The world revolves around the beauty of the ballerina.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 6:09 pm 
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Egad, maybe I shouldn’t have written the above. I just noticed that was David H’s 666th post! I am staring into the jaws of the number of the beast!

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The world revolves around the beauty of the ballerina.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 6:32 pm 
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Quote:
I just noticed that was David H’s 666th post! I am staring into the jaws of the number of the beast!


One never knows now do they?

And I don't work for NBoC. And I haven't given up anything.

D


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