The Future of Powerhouse Ballet
Up to now I have paid all the expenses of Powerhouse Ballet. I will continue to do so until our first show. But I cannot do that indefinitely and it should not be necessary for me to do so. If, as I hope, the show is a success people will want to support the company by paying subscriptions, sponsoring performances and making donations. If the show is not a success, another few months of life support from me will not make a difference.
If we are to be self-supporting we need to organize in such a way as to attract funding from grant awarding bodies like Arts Council England, local authorities and charities, sponsorship from businesses and contributions from our members. There are two models available to us. One is a company limited by guarantee like Duchy Ballet in Truro. The other is an unincorporated association like Chelmsford Ballet in Essex. They publish their constitution on their website.
There is a third option which is the one that I favour, namely a charitable incorporated organization ("CIO"). A CIO gives everybody a say in the running of the company (unlike a company limited by guarantee which is run by a handful of directors) plus all the advantages of corporate and charitable status. A model constitution appears on the government's website.
If we set up a CIO or any other corporation or association we shall need to levy a subscription. Chelmsford has a multi-tier structure for dancing and non-dancing members. Dancing members pay £30 a year unless they are in full-time education in which case they pay £24. Non-dancing associates pay £16 per year. On top of that the company charges members £6 per class (non-members £8) and performers £55 or the right to dance in the annual show. I gather that Duchy has a similar system and that its performing fees are even higher. There are, of course, revenues from ticket sales, advertising in the programmes and sponsorship.
No decision has to be made until after the show. We have done everything possible to make Powerhouse Ballet a success. We have had classes from Jane Tucker, Mark Hindle and Annemarie Donoghue which were excellent and have arranged for more from Jane and Mark as well as Karen Sant and Fiona Noonan, We look forward to a masterclass with the Dutch teacher and choreographer, Yvonne Charlton. We have a workshop on 28 Nov 2018 with Ballet Cymru. Above all we have commissioned the world famous choreographer, Terry Etheridge, to create a ballet for us from an original score by Claude Bolling. So many people wanted to audition that we had to hire the largest studio we could find in Leeds. After Terry invited David Plumpton to play for us our waiting list grew like Topsy.
Over the next few weeks I shall sound out grant awarding bodies about the help that is available to us and have a word with some of the businesses in the North of England and beyond who support the performing arts about sponsorship and advertising. Elaine, Sophie and Wendy have already suggested some brilliant ideas for developing our business and we welcome suggestions from any other well-wisher. The best of those ideas will also be published on the website for evaluation.
I should like to thank everyone for the support they have offered to date and look forward to working with you all to make a great success of the show and the company.
Nicola Hodson has suggested on Facebook and elsewhere that we should organize as a community interest company ("CIC"). It is a very helpful and interesting suggestion and I am very grateful to her for her contribution. I have invited her to write an article on the topic for this website.
Although I favour a charitable incorporated organizaton I am open to persuasion. In any case it will not be my decision. It will be up to individual dancers and other well wishers to decide what sort of organization they want to support.
I think a lot will depend on the business plan. There are a lot of financial advantages to being a charity and if we forego those advantages we shall need a good reason to do so.
Over the next few months I shall try to model the costs of staging a full length ballet for several nights in say the Dancehouse or the Stanley and Audrey Burton once a year plus a summer intensive either in the North (or in Cornwall or Taynuilt where the infrastructure exists and are lovely places in which to study) and 10 company classes a year from teachers of the calibre of those we have engaged to date.
In modelling those costs I shall rely heavily on the knowledge and experience of everyone who has shown up to class or wished us well. In particular, I shall rely on the expertise of Amelia Sierevogel, our designer, Beverley Willsmer, our ballet mistress, and Rachael Paines, our theatre professional. Once we know the costs we shall consider ways of meeting them through ticket sales, advertising and sponsorship revenues, grants, contributions from members and otherwise.
The choice of business organization for the company should be the one that can best meet our needs. We ant to make sure that we are around not just for ourselves but for our daughters and sons and their children who may want to dance and the audiences who will want to see us.