Dwindling donations lead ballet company to slash budget
By Marilyn Bowden
Faced with a substantial shortfall in contributions, the Miami City Ballet has cut its budget for the season by more than $600,000.
"What prompted this," said General Manager Mark Rosenblum, "is that unfortunately the economy is not rebounding to the degree that we had hoped. Some of our budget projections, particularly on the fundraising side, were overly optimistic."
He said the ballet has had a falloff of about 20% in contributions. In response, the company is tightening its belt.
"We were looking at a budget of $10.7 million for the fiscal year from May 1, 2004, to April 30, 2005," Mr. Rosenblum said. "We've cut it to just over $10 million."
The cuts, he said, only affect administrative operations.
"The first, most important step is not to injure the artistic side," Mr. Rosenblum said. "We have an amazing season with seven premieres this year. Changing that was not acceptable."
Restructuring and consolidation on the administrative side entails laying off four of the company's 120 employees, he said, and a hiring freeze on several open positions.
About $200,000 was cut from the advertising budget, Mr. Rosenblum said.
"That's a good portion of the radio spots," he said, "and a planned aggressive billboard campaign will not be happening. We will do some print ads. We hope to get lots of public-relations coverage."
The ballet's development office, which had a mandate to raise $4.95 million in donations this year, now has a reduced goal of $4.4 million, a sum Mr. Rosenblum called "a more digestible budget."
In addition, he said, "we will be looking for opportunities to save a few more dollars from boutique sales, rental of our building, maximizing the interest on our investments and even ways that the ballet school can help improve the bottom line."
The Miami City Ballet, in its 19th season, is one of four resident companies slated to move to the new Performing Arts Center for the 2006-07 season. While the cost of performing there has not yet been determined, Mr. Rosenblum said, "when you're performing in such a big venue expectations are very high, and because the stage is so much bigger we will need to have more production elements. So the key is be as stable financially as possible."
Audiences for the ballet, a tri-county company, are stable in Broward and growing in Palm Beach, he said, but "Miami-Dade has gone off some since we moved from the downtown Gusman to the Jackie Gleason on Miami Beach."