Ah, but I never said 'press release'...I just said a response from the press office. And that's exactly what I would expect a press office to do - if there's a concern, you issue a statement addressing that concern. A letter from a single person might warrant a short, more individual response, but you are a website - a press entity - and thus a statement is an appropriate response.
Whatever the motivation, it is and will be forevermore, unethical to offer this type of contact with a dancer in exchange for money. That NYCB, ABT or anyone else does it odes not make it right.
That may be your opinion, but it does not make it fact. Each company and each dancer and each potential patron has the right to decide that on their own.
The NYCB dancers who take part in the AIDS Walk fundraiser do it on their own time and of their own volition. I would suggest that the receipients of the money raised - people living with AIDS who otherwise not get treatment or support - don't think that it's unethical.
And no, you don't really get 'free' tickets or drinks etc. In the US, the cost of any actual service or item provided is deducted from the tax deductible value of a donation, so you end up paying for tickets/drinks/food. It's the contact with the dancers that's free. Which is why most of the events for substantial donors include dancers - symposiums, intermission gatherings in the green room, the dancer arranged dinner gala (Dance with the Dancers), the receptions in patrons homes.
BTW, the difference in funding between SDT and Scottish Ballet Theatre is a function of size and productions. Scottish Ballet has what, 4 or 5 times as many dancers as SDT... And whilst SDT usually performs pieces choreographed by in-house choreographers with minimal sets - in part because of the small houses where they perform (great for modern dance to see it up close anyway) - Scottish Ballet has ballets with a lot more sets, must pay for the rights and the stagers of many ballets, has to pay for a full orchestra for most performances and has additional expenses like pointe shoes, a full costume shop etc. etc. Don't get me wrong - I think SDT is fabulous - but modern and ballet are two different 'beasts' and I don't think SDT will or ever intends to be on the scale of Scottish Ballet.