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Houston Ballet Reshuffles Its Dance Card Again

Houston ballet Sololist Harper Watters and Principal Soo Youn Cho in Stanton Welch's The Nutcracker.
Houston ballet Sololist Harper Watters and Principal Soo Youn Cho in Stanton Welch's The Nutcracker.
Photo by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox (2019)/ Courtesy of Houston Ballet

The ongoing pandemic has once again altered scheduling for another Houston arts group, this time the Houston Ballet that today announces two fall performances will not be held in-person and The Nutcracker will not be performed this year. Also, because of resulting financial losses, it could no longer retain all of its fulltime staff and has laid off 30 percent of them.

Loss of The Nutcracker means a significant financial loss for the ballet, which said in a press release that it accounts for $5 million in revenue. Love Letters scheduled for September 11-20 and Mayerling from September 24 through October 4 will not be presented as originally scheduled.

Houston Ballet had already lost $1.3 million over three canceled ticketed productions and has been filling out the rest of its 2019-20 season with digital offerings, including 16 previously recorded ballets. The employees laid off in July were told this will last until further notice. The ballet is instituting pay cuts for the remaining employees, with those at the top of the organization seeing decreases in the highest amounts. 

“We are not finished creating,” says Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch in the ballet's announcement. “We’ve demonstrated that time and time again. While the future is uncertain, this is not. We can and will bring high-quality art to this city through dance, whether you see it from the house of a theater or your living room couch.”

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To address the lost revenue, the ballet has launched a $5 million fundraising campaign to restore artists and staff.

"With strong support from the Board of Trustees, we have already raised more than $1 million towards this campaign goal, which includes a generous dollar-for-dollar challenge grant from The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts," says Houston Ballet Chief Development Officer Angela Lane. "Even so, the pandemic presents the most significant financial challenge Houston Ballet has ever faced, and we need community-wide support to emerge from this crisis.”

Houston Ballet also conducts extensive outreach efforts to schools and awards scholarships to encourage dance students. People desiring to make a donation should visit houstonballet.org/about/support-us/give/.

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