A MESSAGE FROM LEADERSHIP
Monday, May 18, 2020
So much has happened since, sadly, we suspended the remainder of the 2020 SF Ballet Season and returned to our homes to shelter-in-place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SF Ballet artists, staff, faculty, students, volunteers, and board members have been keeping our communities safe by following public health orders and protocols. It has been perhaps one of the most devastating moments in our history; however, it is turning out to be one of our most dynamic times, as we rethink how we create, how we connect, and how we manage through a public health pandemic that is changing on a daily basis. Our main objective is to keep ballet alive and our future viable. Since March 17 when we closed the doors to our studios, SF Ballet has strived to do the right thing. We have banded together with one objective: to support our artists, workforce, and community, and in doing so have emerged in many ways at the forefront of our industry.
Over the last seven weeks, we asked you to consider donating back your tickets or applying a credit towards next year, and 95% of you elected to do so. (If you haven’t contacted us about the status of your tickets, there is still time to do so by visiting this form.) Your trust and loyalty are testament that despite even the bleakest of predictions, you believe in our return.
For now, we want to update you on the status of SF Ballet and SF Ballet School. The magnitude of this crisis is real, but so is the fortitude of everyone who cares about SF Ballet. Amazing work has been accomplished in a short period of time, including:
• SF Ballet securing a loan from the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program to help pay our artists and our workforce through June 30, 2020.
• We are curating for the world, all-access, full-length and signature repertoire works performed by the company in HD format, enhanced with public programming. In addition, our dancers, musicians, faculty, and educators are creating a variety of unique content available on all social media channels. Since shelter-in-place, more than 1 million people have viewed and engaged with these digital offerings, and there is more to come.
• SF Ballet School has reimagined how to connect with students at the SF Unified School District via public access television. We are also offering over 80 live online classes per week while exploring what professional training may look like in the future.
Currently, we are actively reimagining our 2021 Season. We know that we will need to be adaptable and that it will not be "business as usual." SF Ballet is committed to making the "unusual" as inspiring and creative as we can. We have worked with the War Memorial Performing Arts Center to put the seat replacement project on hold so we can return to our performance venue without disruption when City officials say it is safe to do so. However, first we must have a plan to safely return dancers to our studios to take company class while still observing socially distanced protocols. We are working diligently to find a safe path back to rehearsal and performance. The reality is that without artists and the workforce that supports them, we are not a viable ballet company.
With that in mind, in March we launched the SF Ballet Critical Relief Fund. To date, we have raised nearly $3 million towards our future. We may not know how long it will take us to return to the stage, but we do know we will need our artists and those that support them regardless of the timeline.
In a few weeks, we will be asking our family of subscribers to take a "Leap of Faith" with us, and commit to renewing their ticket packages for our 2021 Season—a season that we are committed to delivering, be it in the War Memorial Opera House, or via a digital streaming option, or a combination of both. Creativity and innovation are at the heart of this company, and the past weeks have shown that we can employ those assets even during the most challenging times.
On behalf of every member of the entire SF Ballet organization, we thank you for making us a part of your life. We believe that while we may be sheltered, we are not shattered. SF Ballet is committed to creating, engaging, and sharing the joy of dance with as wide an audience as possible. Your ongoing trust, support, and love of ballet constantly remind us that we are in this together; and together we are more.
Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer