Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Cuts Nutcracker Performances, Seeking to Eliminate Debt

Classic Arts News   Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Cuts Nutcracker Performances, Seeking to Eliminate Debt
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's board has passed a budget for 2005-06 that will nearly eliminate the company's $1 million debt, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

One result of the company's reduction of expenses is fewer performances of The Nutcracker this coming December; six performances of the ballet have been cut from the Benedum Center schedule.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PBT depends on The Nutcracker for 58 percent of its ticket sales, and last season's holiday performances sold only 33,500 tickets, 1,500 fewer than projected.

The details of the $7.5 million budget were not released, because the company has until June 30 to finalize its spending plan. The fiscal year starts on July 1.

The company is still negotiating a new contract for the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet Orchestra, its live ensemble. The musicians' contract expires on June 30, and a new one must be agreed on before the company's financial plan can be settled.

Details of current negotiations were not made available. George Clewer, president of the Local 60-471, which represents the musicians, told the Tribune-Review, "Obviously, I can't talk much about it since we're at the table."

In January, PBT asked the musicians to take a 50 percent pay cut for the remainder of the season, which would have left the orchestra playing at well below scale for musicians at other Pittsburgh venues. When the negotiations over the pay cut stalled, PBT abandoned them, deciding to focus instead on the upcoming new contract.

The company is interviewing candidates to fill several vacant positions on its staff—including director of marketing, director of development, public relations and promotions manager, and director of the company's school—although it has not ruled out the possibility of job cuts.

PBT officials have met with executives from the Pennsylvania Ballet, and although there has been speculation that the talks included the possibility of a merger between the two, both companies deny it.

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