Northern Ballet has announced a new fundraising campaign which aims to fill a gap in government funding and ensure that the Company can retain its full complement of 40 dancers. The campaign was launched last night at an event hosted by Mint Hotel in Leeds, which saw the Company celebrate its many achievements over the past year.
The Sponsor a Dancer campaign comes at the end of a year of great recognition for Northern Ballet, which moved to its new home in Leeds in October 2010 following a hugely successful fundraising campaign. More than 2,500 people came to visit the new building in the centre of the city, which is the largest purpose-built space for dance outside London, on its opening weekend in January 2011. February saw the world première of David Nixon’s Cleopatra at Leeds Grand Theatre. The production went on to tour to 11 theatres throughout the UK, and was performed to around 55,000 people. Cleopatra won widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike and made nearly £1.2m at the box office, a clear indication that audiences are hungry for new work. Premier Dancer Martha Leebolt, who won the Outstanding Female Dancer (Classical) award of the National Dance Awards 2010, created the role of Cleopatra.
The Company is recognised around the world for the high quality of its performers and its performances. It is uniquely prolific, regularly creating new full-length ballets for audiences on tour and at home. Since 2001, Artistic Director David Nixon OBE has added 12 new titles to the Company’s repertoire – more new work than any other British ballet company. In order to continue to create and perform the work for which it is renowned, Northern Ballet needs to retain all its dancers.
Northern Ballet received a 15% cut to its core funding for 2012 to 2015, when government funding cuts were announced in March of this year.  The reality of these cuts mean that the Company stands to lose up to ten dancers – a quarter of those currently employed – over the coming year. Northern Ballet is the only UK company planning to lose dancers as a result of cuts in funding.
The Sponsor a Dancer campaign invites support from members of the public, private donors, companies, trusts and foundations to sponsor a dancer of their choice. Levels of sponsorship range from £30 to £10,000 per year and benefits include signed photos, updates from the sponsored dancer, theatre seats, opportunities to see the dancer in rehearsal and to meet them after performances, acknowledgement of support on the Northern Ballet website and on media screens in the Company’s new home, regular enewsletters and invitations to special events.
The Sponsor a Dancer campaign has got off to an encouraging start with recent gifts from the Monument Trust and Garfield Weston Foundation which will fund 3 dancers for two years. They have been joined by James Hare Limited who is supporting one of the Company’s young apprentice dancers.
Josh Barwick trained with Northern Ballet Academy, the Company’s training school, and joined the Company as an apprentice in 2010. He is now a dancer in his first year. He says: ‘My pathway into the Company was nurtured all the way through Northern Ballet and the Academy. It’s a big step straight from school into a company and a whole different life. An apprenticeship is such a great way of taking that step.”
Kenneth Tindall has danced with the Company since 2003 and his worked his way through the ranks to Premier Dancer. He says: ‘The way everyone works together is really special. It’s the repertoire that puts us in a different field. We try to make ballet for everyone; we try to make dance for now, for tomorrow. For everyone that hasn’t seen it we try to make it accessible in every way that we can.’
Premier Dancer Pippa Moore has been dancing with Northern Ballet since 1996 and has performed numerous leading roles. Talking about the possibility of gaining sponsorship she says, ‘To me it would mean that someone amazing is on the sidelines cheering me on, sharing the same dream understanding my vision and supporting me along the way.’
As a result of government cuts, Northern Ballet’s fundraising targets have been considerably increased across the board to ensure that the Company can continue to operate at its consistently high level. So far this year the Company has already generated close to £600,000 of financial support from private donors, companies, trusts and foundations thereby reducing the overall target to a further £900,000 of new income over the next three years. The Company is focussing on increasing tickets sales as well as maximising the commercial opportunities offered by its new building.
Chief Executive, Mark Skipper, says: ‘We have had a very strong year artistically and our fundraising efforts have achieved a great deal which is a promising reflection of the great belief in and passion for Northern Ballet.
‘Nonetheless, we are still very actively seeking support and continue to be proactive in supplementing our funding and encourage anyone who is interested in our Sponsor a Dancer campaign and securing the future of our Company to contact us.
‘Our dancers are our greatest asset. In order to ensure we can maintain a full complement of dancers and continue to commission the new productions for which we have an unrivalled reputation, private investment is now of paramount importance.’
For full details about the Sponsor a Dancer campaign or to find out more about other fundraising schemes, from corporate partnerships to sponsoring productions and national tours, visit northernballet.com or contact Janet Myers, on 0113 220 8000 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Notes to Editors
Northern Ballet tours to more UK venues than any other company in the country. Over the past four years Northern Ballet has given over 650 performances in the UK, performing to more than half a million people during approximately 100 weeks of touring across 17 different venues. Northern Ballet also tours overseas and has already performed in China (twice), Milan, Miami, Barcelona, Beijing, Bangkok and Macau.
The Company has carved a unique place in the UK’s cultural landscape and was voted Britain’s favourite dance company for three consecutive years at the National Dance Awards.
The individuals, companies, trusts and foundations who have pledged their support to the Company in the past few months include the Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement, The Monument Trust, The Foyle Foundation, The Emerald Foundation, Leeds Community Foundation: HESCO Bastion Fund, Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation and James Hare. Donations will be used towards the creation of new productions, including Northern Ballet’s Christmas production of Beauty & the Beast, as well as enabling the Company to retain dancers and develop the operational capacity of its new home on Quarry Hill in Leeds.
 Taking into account additional one-off grants, this means that the Company is contending with £800,000 less in government funding for 2012/13 than it took to successfully run the Company in 2010/11.