Ballet's Big Plans: Pipe Dream Or Feasible?

It's long been rumored (at least in the Houston ballet world, such as it is), but the

Houston Business Journal

let the

cat out of the bag

: the Houston Ballet is hoping to build a large, expensive facility downtown near the Wortham Center to consolidate its far-flung operations.

The Houston Chronicle followed up today with more details on the proposed project.

The proposed project that will cost at least $53 million, a big chunk of which will have to be raised from private funds.

Our first thought was "A huge fund-raising drive for the ballet in this economy? Lotsa luck."

Turns out our first thought might be wrong.

Insiders say a large portion of the needed money has already been pledged, thanks to an underground campaign that's been going on for a year or so. The daunting figure still needed isn't actually as big as it appears at first blush. (Thanks, gas-price gouging!)

The ballet is being tight-lipped about specific figures, however. Spokesman Andrew Edmonson tells Hair Balls only that "Houston's economy is not going to be hurting anytime soon" and charitable donations are not expected to dip that much nationwide.

If the country's general economic downturn hits Houston, however, the first thing off the wish list might be an expensive new home for the ballet. So it's far from a done deal yet.

But if we can't get an improved ballet out of four-dollar gas, what can we get?

-- Richard Connelly

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