January 23, 2014 - 11:15 AM
KELOWNA - “Excellence in motion” – that’s the new motto of Ballet Kelowna. It could just as easily be “determination and courage.” Just a year ago, in February 2013, the company’s board of directors announced it would close its doors after ten years of operation, citing insurmountable financial challenges. But all that has changed, due to an outpouring of support from audiences, members, and donors, together with a new board of directors, which have combined to breathe new life into the organization.
“Together, we’ve certainly done what many people thought was impossible,” says new board president Deborah Ward. “It’s taken a tremendous amount of hard work, and there’s still much to be done, but we’re now at a point where there’s real confidence about the future. A huge “thank you” is due to everyone who came forward, and is still coming forward, to help sustain us.”
“And it’s more than simple optimism,” says Ward. “The proof is in the numbers. Our 2013-14 season got off to a terrific start, with sold out holiday performances of The Nutcracker with the Canadian School of Ballet. Our finances are stable, and we’re operating in the black again. Membership has also virtually tripled over the past year.”
“It’s fantastic to witness what has happened,” says Kelowna-based non-profit consultant John Grimes, who is working with the new board to help it implement a vision and plan for the future. “Sometimes a great challenge can make an organization much stronger. There’s a deep passion in this community for ballet and dance and the arts, and for the richer quality of life they bring. When you tap into that level of passion, as Ballet Kelowna has done, the future is not about challenges anymore, it’s about opportunities.”
“We’re starting a fabulous new chapter,” says Ward. “Ballet Kelowna has built an incredible legacy through the creative leadership of David LaHay. That legacy – for which we are all immensely grateful – provides the strong foundation that we will build upon. Without that foundation, nothing would be possible.” LaHay, who has served as artistic director since the company’s founding in 2002, plans to retire in May, but sees it as a passing of the torch. “I’m proud of the outstanding performances that our dancers have brought to the province over the years. I love being with our dancers who are working in the studio now, preparing for the upcoming tour and our season finale in Kelowna,” he says “but I’m also extremely excited about where the next generation of dancers, and a new artistic director, will take the company. The possibilities are exhilarating.”
The selection process for LaHay’s successor is underway. “There is strong interest among a number of well-qualified professionals,” says Alison Moore, past executive director of the company, who has returned to the helm on an interim basis during the transition. “A new artistic director is expected to be named in the fall, followed by an executive director,” she indicated. “We’re approaching this very carefully,” says Ward. “We’re building a team. Having the right chemistry, the right people to work together – first the board, then the artistic director, dancers, and administration – is the single most important ingredient when your product is excellence – excellence in motion.”
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014