Dramatic turnaround for Ballet Kelowna

Ballet Kelowna says the show will go on next season.

Just over a year after announcing it planned to shut down because of a lack of support and money, the local dance company says it will finish its season next month with a $30,000 surplus and three-times the membership support it had in February 2013.

Speaking to council on Monday, Ballet Kelowna chairwoman Deborah Ward credited the dramatic turnaround to an outpouring of support across the Okanagan following last February’s announcement.

With a renewal of its annual $30,000 city grant on the line, Ward said this past year the city’s money helped her organization raise a further $107,000 in government grants and another $78,000 in private donations.

With a deliberately shortened season, a new board in place and a tripling of its membership base, Ballet Kelowna now plans to hire a new artistic director/CEO and general manager to replace retiring artistic director and founder David LeHay and has put together a strategic plan for continued future success.

“The last year has been extremely challenging, but because of a lot of hard work by a lot of people we are now even stronger,” said Ward. “We are beginning a new chapter in our history.”

Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray said it was nice to see the momentum created after the shock many felt that Ballet Kelowna could shut down. “My appeal to the public is not only should they continue to buy tickets but also make a contribution,” said Gray, noting he and his wife Doreen have committed to donate to Ballet Kelowna for the next five years.

Ward said moving forward, Ballet Kelowna will launch  a major marketing campaign for its last show of the season scheduled for April 25 in Kelowna, plans to slowly lengthen its season over next three to five years, and increase its budget to between $325,000 and $400,000 from the current $265,000.

City council agreed to give Ballet Kelowna a $30,000 grant  after hearing Ward’s report.


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