Another day, another piece of rotten news about the toll the economy is taking on the arts. Madison Ballet has cancelled An Evening of Romance, the concert that was to have taken place February 14 in Overture Center's Capitol Theater.
"It was probably one of the hardest decisions I've had to make," says Madison Ballet executive director Valerie Dixon. The order came yesterday in a telephone meeting of the ballet's executive committee. "We had exhausted all measures to bring in funding to make this event lucrative."
Dancers and staffers were told of the cancellation this morning. "It was very somber," says Dixon. "I was moved to tears on more than one occasion."
Madison Ballet announced other cuts just a few weeks ago. The group's April concert, Pure Ballet, was scuttled, and next season's schedule was reduced from four performances to two. The next scheduled performance is holiday perennial The Nutcracker.
Dixon says the group's problems do not owe to declining ticket sales. Sales have been steady, even if "they haven't been astronomical." The difficulty is corporate giving, which has declined sharply in the sour economy. "Companies are either tightening their purse strings or not giving at all."
Madison Ballet is not the only struggling arts organization. Madison Repertory Theatre has suspended its season, and Overture Center laid off workers amid contentious debate over its construction debt.
For now, Madison Ballet performers have proposed a private showing of their Pure Ballet dances. It is to take place Friday, possibly at the group's studio. "We'll invite some of our board members and patrons to pull up a metal chair and see our hard work," says Dixon.
Dixon took office as Madison Ballet executive director just eight months ago. They have been convulsive months. "It has been a challenge," she says of her tenure. "But I am very proud of this organization."