In contrast with many arts institutions in Toronto, and across Canada, the National Ballet of Canada recently announced that it had achieved an operating surplus for the 2018/19 season. This marks the 10th consecutive year when the organization’s financial operations have landed firmly in the black. The results were announced by Cornell C. V. Wright, Board Chair of the NBC, at the organization’s annual general meeting on October 15, 2019 in Toronto.
Specifically, the company’s revenues were $37.58 million with expenses at $36.17 million, which resulted in a surplus of $1.41 million. The figures represent a 4 percent operating surplus. In a media statement, Wright credits artistic director Karen Kain and executive director Barry Hughson for the season’s successes, along with fundraising campaigns that contributed to cash flow. “The completion of the Soaring Campaign, with $104 million raised in support of Karen’s vision over the past decade, was a powerful highlight and will continue to positively impact the company and its artistic trajectory for years to come.”
The Soaring Campaign began in 2009/10, and involved 890 donors. Other funding came from The National Ballet of Canada, Endowment Foundation, which rose to a record high of $79 million in fund balances at June 30, 2019. A grant of $3.17 million went to the company for the 2018/19 season.
The Board Chair also noted what he called the company’s “landmark international tours” which saw the NBC perform at The Hamburg Ballet’s Großes Haus in Germany with an all-Canadian program of The Dreamers Ever Leave You by Robert Binet, The Man in Black by James Kudelka, and Emergence by Crystal Pite. Along with a stint at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre in London, England, the company performed in the Stanislavsky Theatre in Moscow and the Mariinsky Theatre II in St. Petersburg, Russia for the first time in NBC’s history. The Russian dates showcased the National Ballet’s range and talents in a mixed program that includes Guillaume Côté’s Being and Nothingness, Justin Peck’s Paz de la Jolla and Crystal Pite’s Emergence.
Other artistic highlights of the season included the North American premiere of Anna Karenina by John Neumeier, and company premiere of Night by former NBC dancer turned choreographer Julia Adam. It was also the year that saw the final company performances of celebrated Principal Dancer Xiao Nan Yu, who retired after 22 years with a stellar turn in The Merry Widow.
Wright also noted some of the NBC’s impressive numbers for the 2018/19 season, including an overall reach of 3,103 performances and community events, along with digital initiatives. Seventy-eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre brought in 144,527 audience members, with 2,994 community events reaching an additional 96,544.
Along with its performance schedule, the NBC takes part in a number of community initiatives, including YOU dance, which brought workshops and performances to 10,896 students in the Greater Toronto Area. The Share the Magic program brings ballet to 3.200 students and families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend a performance. The Open Space initiative provided 778 hours of free studio time to 18 independent choreographers in Toronto.
The National Ballet of Canada’s 2019/20 season kicks off on November 6 with Giselle.
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