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 Post subject: Oakland Ballet to Dissolve
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 3:19 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Sad news from Laura Casey in the Alameda Times-Star:

Alameda Times-Star


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 3:56 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
Very sad, though not unexpected news.

This is a prime example of how not to run a ballet company. I think their intentions were always right, but their programming was spotty, their management style was not very employee friendly, and their fund-raising was inconsistent. Three strikes and you're out?


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:00 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
Sad news indeed. I think a lot of people hoped they would be able to pull together this season.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:18 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
This is sad news, especially given that Oakland plays a part in the international ballet scene: the version of Nijinska's "Les Noces" set on the company is the one performed by most of the leading companies around the world, including the Kirov.

The message from Dance/USA also gives food for thought:

Quote:
Ballet patrons across the country were holding back from giving to their local ballets or attending performances, said a spokesman with Dance/USA, which tracks such data.


I suspect that Oakland will not be alone over the coming year or so.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:23 pm 
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Location: San Francisco, CA
I think you're right Stuart. I hate to say it, but there is more than one company teetering on the edge.

Makes it all the more impressive that SFB has run in the black for so many years!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 9:13 am 
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Location: Where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
I found their programming to be rather inspiring, especially the variety and scope of music and musicians who were brought in, given the small size of the company. My impression has been that KB thought about her small company in large company terms, and perhaps that's why her expectations of the dancers were unrealistic: she was pushing with everything she had. Given the size of the company and the generally miserable state of fiscal affairs in the City of Oakland (cf the schools in receivership, etc.), I think that the fundraising and outreach efforts undertaken were ambitious, creative and overall, pretty impressive. The number of non-white audience members compared to San Francisco Ballet attendees shows us that the art form appeals to one and all when an effort is made to bring in broad audiences. It sounds like the closure of the Calvin Simmons Theatre is what broke OB's back. The company had a great season compared to many others of its size, and was making a comeback. The venue crisis in the Bay Area hits the smaller companies hardest, and it looks like Oakland Ballet really got slammed by this--it's kind of their own private Katrina. If I were Governor of California, every company would receive state support--as much as each could justify, and there would be a very low ceiling on theater rent.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 11:11 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Quote:
If I were Governor of California, every company would receive state support--as much as each could justify, and there would be a very low ceiling on theater rent.


Assuming that things in California are structured in a way similar to the various states in which I've lived, none of that is under the Governor's jurisdiction.

State support must be appropriated by the legislature (although the Governor can certainly urge them to do so). Theatre rents are set by the owners of the venues -- either local county or municipal governments or private owners.

Most of the theatres with which I'm familiar do have a lower rate for not-for-profit tenants.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:00 pm 
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Rachel Howard adds some perspective to the announcement in the San Francisco Chronicle:

SF Chronicle


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 1:58 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
I can't speak too much on the way the dancers were treated, but I can speak to the way KB treated her artistic and admin staff, which in a word is badly. Do keep a company running you need a dedicated staff willing to do more than necessary to keep the company going. That is one of the ways SFB has stayed in the black: a dedicated staff that is treated well and recognized for their sacrifices. Oakland did not have that and they have suffered the consequences. There were sao many structural problems in the organization it was bound to fall.

The programming may have been inspiring to to Toba, but obviously there aren't enough Toba's out there. KB seemed to be trying to light a fire under the ethnically diverse communities in Oakland with some of her programming, but they somehow did not seem to jump up and buy ballet tickets.

The loss of their historic repertory is tragic. I am very sad about that. Their performance of "Jinx" a few years ago was stronger and truer than SFB's the same season, I heard from my sources. I don't see the possibility of any company being able to fill the void left by Oakland Ballet's demise.

I am also disappointed in the City of Oakland for not seeming to care much about the retention of one of its most important performing arts institutions.

I guess I'm just disappointed about the whole thing. I was kind of rooting for their success.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 11:06 am 
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Oakland East Bay Symphony music director Michael Morgan hoists the flag for the arts in Oakland in an attempt to counteract the negative bounce, in the Oakland Tribune:

Oakland Tribune


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 11:13 am 
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Well, it's certainly refreshing to see a classical musician acknowledge that there are other art forms besides music.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 12:41 pm 
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Another article about OB's closing.

I'm annoyed. If there had been this much press about the troubles, maybe it would have delayed the closing? I hate the press...


OK, that's an overstatement. I'm just bitter today.

Quote:
Oakland Ballet to close for good
DANCE COMPANY HAD ENDURED FOR 40 YEARS
By Mark Whittington
Mercury News

The Oakland Ballet finally succumbed to its financial demons, announcing it is closing for good after 40 years.

Red ink had forced the ballet to cancel its 2004 season, but it raised $500,000 and reopened to critical praise last fall.

``We've endured financial struggles on and off throughout our history, but despite last year's good reviews, low ticket sales forced us to use our reserve fund,'' Linda Crayton, acting president of the ballet's board, said. ``This, coupled with the elimination of our performance venue, has made it impossible to mount another season of performances.''


more...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 12:46 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
And another.

Quote:
Ballet closes curtains after 40 years of dance
By Robert Taylor
CONTRA COSTA TIMES

The Oakland Ballet, which fought its way back on-stage after canceling a season, will close its doors this week after 40 years in business.

Linda Crayton, acting president of the ballet's board of trustees, announced Tuesday that the company would dissolve.

"Our financial situation and lack of performance venue utterly precludes us from continuing our operations," she said.

The turning point, she and artistic director Karen Brown agreed, was the city's decision to close Calvin Simmons Theater near Lake Merritt, which the ballet had chosen for its long-term home.


more...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 1:18 pm 
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An editorial in the Oakland Tribune:

Oakland Tribune Editorial


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2006 3:42 pm 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
I had a long telephone conversation with KB about a year ago and I remember how enthusiastic and optimistic she was about the company's future. I'm thinking that if just one thing had happened differently, the company might have survived.

If Nutcracker had drawn well, it might have made a difference.

If the theatre hadn't been closed down, it might have made a difference.

If there had been more (and more vocal) public support from civic leaders before the collapse, it might have made a difference.

I really would have liked to have seen the ballet based on the Port Chicago mutiny.

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