Colorado Ballet Faces More Resignations; Wheeldon Charges Breach of Contract

Classic Arts News   Colorado Ballet Faces More Resignations; Wheeldon Charges Breach of Contract
The Colorado Ballet has received a total of nine resignations since the departure of executive director Rick Tallman earlier this month, the Denver Post reports.

In addition, choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is charging that the company is in breach of contract for canceling the production of his new Alice in Wonderland. The company took the $1 million production of the schedule last week when it became apparent that funding a new production was financially unfeasible.

Alice in Wonderland had been scheduled as the centerpiece for the fall 2005 opening of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Artistic director Martin Fredmann told the Post that the company was guilty of "wishful thinking" in planning the new work. A revival of Sleeping Beauty has been scheduled to take the production's place.

The company is also in some financial trouble, unable to pay the city of Denver $146,629 in rent and fees.

The departures of Tallman and his wife, Angela, manager of ticketing and customer relations, who left to return to a nonprofit consulting business they began together in the late 1990s, set off a wave of resignations, including those of Gayle Davis, vice president of sales and marketing, board chairman Elisabeth Armstrong, and five board members.

Jack Finlaw, director of Denver's division of theaters and arenas, was concerned that the changes at Colorado Ballet could cost the company. "To have this shake-up at in the leadership of both the board and the staff occur just months before the opening of this new performance venue—I'm worried that they're going to lose their momentum and lose this opportunity to grow their donor base and grow their audience base," he said.

Finlaw also wondered about the future of partnership of the ballet and the new venue. "I'm concerned about the fact we have booked many, many nights in the new opera house for the Colorado Ballet," he said, "and I need a partner there that is financially and artistically viable."

Tallman is credited with reducing the company's deficit from $630,000 to $249,000, and with increasing donations and overhauling its marketing plan. He left, he said, because it was time to move on, although he didn't discount the possibility of working with the company in a different capacity in the future.

Fredmann, however, had a different view of Tallman's tenure, He told the Rocky Mountain News that Tallman left "because he was here to do a fast [budget] fix, and he realized that couldn't happen."

Finlaw will meet next week with Lisa Snider, the company's new interim executive director, to find out what the company intends to do next.

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