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Hope enters spotlight for jeopardized Ballet Kelowna

Ballet Kelowna dancers Mikael Montminy and Tiffany Bilodeau in D.A. Hoskins’ ballet A Lark Ascending.

Glenna Turnbull

Ballet Kelowna will not be taking its final curtsy without a fight.

Less than a week after announcing that it would shut down in mid-March, the company now says it will be able to complete its season, with shows into April. Further, there is talk of possibly saving the company.

Ballet Kelowna announced last Friday that it would suspend operations mid-March, falling just short of completing its 10th anniversary season. But on Thursday, the company announced that because of community support – donations of money and time – it will be able to close out the season, and perform for an additional six weeks. This affects previously suspended tour dates in Mission and Coquitlam, as well as performances in several Kelowna schools.

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The company also announced a town hall meeting next Wednesday to gauge support and look for possible solutions to its financial woes.

"The hope is that in the long term, the company can be preserved," executive director Meaghan Williams said in an interview.

Ms. Williams says a number of donations have come in since the company announced it was shutting down, and she has been overwhelmed by the number of letters of support. Further, she says, staff members have all made pledges of time and money to ensure that the company finishes the season.

"If the company were to move forward, it would be because of the support from the community in Kelowna, in B.C. and Alberta where we tour, and across Canada from the dance community."

The company – which currently consists of 8 dancers, retiring artistic director David LaHay, two part-time staff members and several independent contractors – was established in 2002.

Last week, board president Jamie Maw said in a news release that the company would not be able to maintain balanced budgets if it continued operating. "No matter how much we fine-tune our projections, and despite one of the hardest-working boards in show business, the continuing downward economic trends are more than we can adjust for," he said in a statement.

But on Thursday, there appeared to be some hope. "Our funders at the city of Kelowna, at the B.C. Arts Council and at the Canada Council for the Arts, as well as some significant corporate sponsors here in our community, have indicated their support for Ballet Kelowna, and are working with us as we navigate through this challenging time," said Ms. Williams.

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About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

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