See my interview with Septime Webre and a preview of the Washington Ballet's new season:
Washington Ballet to Revive “Gatsby,” Adds “ALICE (in Wonderland)” to Next Season (Washingtonian, July 27):
The last few years have not been easy for the Washington Ballet. A labor dispute with the dancers scuttled the company’s 2005 run of Nutcracker, the holiday-season cash cow of many ballet companies. According to Washington Post dance critic Sarah Kaufman, at the heart of the dispute were “thorny questions [about] how much control [artistic director Septime] Webre should have.” Then the economic crisis hit, and the orchestra that played for the company’s productions was dismissed because of financial constraints, in 2009. The use of recorded music instead of full orchestra became more or less permanent at the beginning of last season. Last week, Septime Webre spoke to Washingtonian about the company and what its plans are for next season, his 13th as artistic director.
Reports have put the annual budget of the Washington Ballet at around $8 million but shrinking over the last couple years. Webre confirms that it is still somewhere around that figure. “Ticket sales have been doing really well,” he says, “and fundraising has stayed strong, from individuals particularly and special events. The biggest challenge, the only major challenge, I would say, has been the loss of government funding. We had been receiving support from the city of Washington, about $1 million a year. Two summers ago, that was cut to zero, in the budget balancing process, making a huge loss from which we had to recover.” The budget battle being fought right now at the federal level may imperil the company’s funding, too, as support to the arts could be cut there. [Continue reading]