Survival equals dollars for Ballet Kelowna

Having held off awarding the financially troubled dance company a $30,000 grant, city council is now happy it'll be money well spent.

Ballet Kelowna’s survival has been rewarded with a $30,000 operating grant from the city.

Kelowna city council had held off awarding the local dance company the annual grant earlier this spring because of uncertainty about Ballet Kelowna’s future.

But city cultural services manager Sandra Kochan said following an initial decision by Ballet Kelowna shut down at the end of this season, the community rallied around it and has helped keep it alive.

A reduced 2013/14 season is planned, using two fewer dancers and reducing the number of performances. But, she said, the performances for local schools and for UBC Okanagan will continue, as well as the popular annual production of Christmas favourite The Nutcracker.

Kochan told council membership in the society that runs Ballet Kelowna has tripled since the talk of its demise, it’s earned revenue from ticket sales has risen by 77 per cent, individual donations have doubled and the company’s season-ending performance at the Kelowna community theatre sold out for the first time in Ballet Kelowna’s 10-year history last month.

Ballet Kelowna board member and tour-co-ordinator Joan WIlson told council the company has enough money to start next season and is planning as if it will be around “for at least the next 10 years.”

“The whole process of becoming financially viable is one that we take very seriously, she said when asked about the future of Ballet Kelonwa beyond 2014.

Coun. Robert Hobson noted the efforts of other local arts organizations in helping Ballet Kelowna survive, saying local arts groups really showed they really are part of a  community in the city.

“It’s really a testament to the passion people in the community have for the arts,” he said.

Mayor Walter Gray said the advertising for the city that Ballet Kelowna generates when it travels to the 55 different communities it performs in each year across Western Canada is also invaluable.

Wilson said presenters in some of those communities have noted that the name Kelowna is included in all the advertising and has resulted in some in those communities being surprised to see a city the size of Kelowna has its own ballet company.