How, then do propose that ballet companies survive? Irregardless of the ticket price, the money comes out of your pocket somehow - donations, tickets or taxes.... and if tickets are cheaper, then it's gotta come from the other two. In the US it's donations, and in Europe, it tends to be taxes. Our tickets tend to be cheaper with good concessions, but you'd probably freak out at our tax rate.
Ballet companies CAN in fact survive on the contributed amount of tax deductable donations that they receive from baord members, trustees, public organizations, and ordinay citzens who gladly open their pocketbooks to support an arts organization. The fundamental flaw that i am making reference to in my original post is that of elevated ticket prices supplimenting shortfalls in a yearly operating budget. I posted that one of two things if not both is relevant in proping up a budget through elevated ticket prices, which are; 1- The concept of "non-profit" is a thing of the past, 2- Irresponsible management and structuring of a non-profit organization. Lets take the 2nd point first, "Irresponsible management and structuring of a non-profit organization". Say for instance "XYZ" ballet company receives annual pledges of roughly 2 million dollars through tax deductable donations one year. Then, the next year the next year the same organization only receives pledges of 1.5 million. It would be common sense for most people who are operating a responsibly managed company to scale down operations to be able to stay within this 1.5 million dollar budget. By doing this, the organization will be able to stay within budget, however, there will have to be budget cutbacks. Nobody likes cutbacks but sometimes that is the way of the world like it or not. Most companies will try to raise that shortfall of operating capital by counting on season subsciptions or single ticket sales which puts a large dependancy on the "profit" of the organization's productions. A non-profit organization should be able to produce and exist without any dependancy on a "profit" factor. The managing of a non-profit performing arts organization relying heavily on that of public ticket sales to prop up an organization's budget can have dire consequences if the prespected goals of those ticket sales fall short. All this brings me back to the point of irresponsible structuring and management of a non-profit organization. Let's say that you are a philanthropist and give 200,000 a year to "XYZ" ballet company to help them operate. Then later that year you get called into an emergency board of trustees session for "XYZ" ballet company where they state that they have a cash-flow problem and can't make payroll or fund one of the future productions because ticket sales fell short or a certain production didn't bring in the expected amount of audience that was anticipated. Without more donations the company is faced with a growing defecit or even closure. This is the scenario that plays itself out time after time after time in modern day ballet companies. Why??? The ever growing reliance on revenue generated by ticket sales to suppliment operating costs. This scenario has another consequence that I have not touched base on, board member and or funder retention. As more and more modern day ballet companies are mismanaged in this fashion the more and more people and organizations who DO make charitable donations stop donating. There is only a finite amount of times you can go to a contributor and say you need more money before they say, "well you can't seem to handle the money I gave you" and they stop pouring money down what they see as a bottomless hole. Once that trend begins and funders/trustee members start declining it only increases the amount of reliance on ticket sales and the profitable success of productions which goes against the fundamental principals of a non-profit organization. When modern day ballet companies operate in this manner, and to date many of them do, it brings me to my first point of "1- The concept of "non-profit" is a thing of the past".
What ever happened to operating within your constrained budget?
I guess the companies could charge $10 for all tickets, but then they'd have to pay the musicians and the dancers and the stagehands and the choreographers and the costumer designers peanuts.
Ummmm, I hate to break this to you but they already do
. Seriously though, if you were to be able to charge only 10.00 per ticket you would probably be able to attract a larger audience which in turn increases the general public's awareness of your organization as well as the art form which would in turn widen the prospects of future fund raising and support.
or cut out health insurance or pensions. And that would never work, so there wouldn't be any ballet to see.
What Health Insurance? What pension? Here in the USA I would estimate that about 10% of existing ballet companies have these type of benefit programs. The vast majority of existing ballet companies do not provide these types of benefits so cutting them is not even something that would play into the scenario.
It would far worse if companies lost their 501(c)3 status because donations would almost certainly plummet without the tax deductions. Rich people donate so they can lower their taxes - and we gain from that.
We are at a point in history in the USA where 503 ballet companies are drying up faster than ever before. The time to convert to a new way of financially funding and operating a ballet company is now.
The fact of the matter is that if you don't cover costs you go the way of Ohio Ballet or Ballet Internationale or Dance Theatre of Harlem. That is kaput.
Ohhhhhh how wrong you are. I have intimate knowledge of these three organizations you just mentioned and what led to their demises. I assure you that in each of these scenarios it had more to do with mismanagement, board retention, and just plain idiocy. Plain and simple! If this message board wasn't so closely moderated I would go into more details.
BTW, I think artistic directors are right to be concerned about dancers in classes, though my experience is that ADs tend to be pretty hands off.
I agree, they should be concerned about how dancers look, however, in my experience atleast, they always seem to become more involved with trying to train their dancers rather than with the artistic direction of the company. There is way more to being an artistic director than teaching ballet class.
They may teach some classes, but most classes are taught by a variety of company and guest teachers.
Man oh man I wish I worked where you did. In my experiences it was quite the opposite.
Because, how dancers look in class reflects how they will look on stage.
I disagree, it all depends on the class, the repertoire, and the teacher, oh yeah and the dancer
And no matter what else an AD does, if the dancers aren't in shape and have a company ethos, the company won't look good.
Good point but that is a whole other ball of worms. If you have to stay on top of dancers to take class, stay in shape, and have good ethos then you need to hire new dancers. Some would argue that there aren't many good dancers out there to be able to hire but that is a load of ****. There are so many good, ethically motivated dancers out of work right now it is sick.
Besides, the fact of the matter is that (with some exceptions) dancers in company are being paid. It's a job. So, whether you like it or not, the boss gets to decide how things work (within legal and contractual boundaries). That's real life. I've had bosses I've hated, but if you want the paycheck, you gotta knuckle down and do the work.
Another good point and that is one of the reasons for so many dancers now performing EXCLUSIVELY as free-lance artists. In for one production and then immediately out so you don't have to deal with the daily rederict of things you don't like.
But, I agree. NO MORE CARMINA BURANAs!!!! I was horrified to see that Houston Ballet is resurrecting Stanton Welch's "Carmina Burana". It was interesting to see at ABT, but I thought it was a colossal waste of time, money and resources for an overblown production that could only be performed in limited locations and performances because of the sets and the need for a full choir. Houston Ballet could do so much better.
Amen to that, I too saw the production at ABT and paid handsomely for the tickets, what a complete waste of time and money. Afterwards I kept thinking to myself, I should have just gone to see a movie and then had dinner with the extra money