Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Arts News: Ballet BC Lays Off Entire Company

This week's announcement from the province's top dance company has sent the Vancouver Arts community reeling. As the article linked below states, the organization's board has blamed low ticket and subscription sales - which was obvious from the low turn out for the recent remounting of the Faerie Queen. They gave away a lot of free tickets that run.
I'm sure the recent world economic unease has made all but the crustiest of the upper crust look hard at how they are spending thier discressionary funds these days. The majority of us artists who view life from the bottom of the pond certainly are watching where we throw our shekels of late. But let's face it, the company has been riddled with internal problems for the last couple of years, around the same time most of the long-term staff jumped ship with the appearance of a new ED.
Frankly, I don't think the company is making smart decisions with it's programming and the proof is showing in their numbers. The Faerie Queen is a remount, as are most of their ballets this season. Although I don't know for sure, I have a hunch that budget considerations were a large part of the equation, since it's often easier to remount a production then to premiere a new one. I'm always a little torn when things like this happen to the big "Prime Performers" in town.
When I think of the Ballet's 2.4 milion dollar budget, I weep in my Lucky Lager, imagining what any producer in my community could do with that kind of coin, but a ballet company is very expensive. The rental of the Queen Elizabeth for one run is more than most small companies spend on their entire budget.
But large companies set the bar for the arts in most cities. They create good paying jobs for local artists, and artistic tradespeople, and they spend a great deal of time nurturing the arts in younger people.
Most artists would say that art shouldn't have to justify it's existance financially,
I'm inclined to agree.
Buy Nutcracker tickets!

Here's a link to the news story: http://bcentertainmenttrivia.blogspot.com/