A Novel Approach to Fundraising by a Nonprofit Ballet Organization

A Novel Approach to Fundraising by a Nonprofit Ballet Organization

A Maryland performing arts organization has found a new way to increase awareness about its programs.

The Maryland Youth Ballet, a non-profit arts institution that provides pre-professional dance training to more than 900 children and 700 adults, has lost more than $10,000 in revenue in recent weeks because of performance and class cancellations from early winter storms. Hoping to generate a surge of publicity that will translate into a surge of end-of-year gift-giving, it invited three dignitaries who have shown support for the organization to participate in its 2013 performances of THE NUTCRACKER.

Carol Trawick, through The Jim and Carol Trawick Foundation created by her and her late husband, supports the ballet's JumpStart initative, a $25,000 per year outreach program that the organization runs for at-risk children in Montgomery County. JumpStart provides free after-school dance classes, complete with ballet clothing, performance tickets, and summer camp. The Trawick Foundation donated $60,000 for the JumpStart program and funds a scholarship each year for a needy student.

The organization invited Mrs. Trawick to perform in THE NUTCRACKER, along with two Maryland elected officials, State Senator Jamie Raskin and Delegate Sheila Hixson. The elected officials were responsible for a $200,000 capital improvement construction bond to upgrade the ballet's state-of-the-art center in downtown Silver Spring.

The politicians played party attendees, while Mrs. Trawick appeared as Clara's favorite aunt in a different performance.

Senator Raskin announced in a press release that the Maryland Youth Ballet promised him that he wouldn't have to dance, "which is truly good news for the holidays," he said, apparently tongue-in-cheek. He pronounced himself "extremely nervous" about his cameo performance.

Mrs. Trawick, on the other hand, had no such qualms. "For me to participate in THE NUTCRACKER is like a magical return to childhood allowing me to become one of the characters in this marvelous fairy tale," she said.

Mrs. Trawick herself demonstrates the benefits of learning to dance as a child. She said that she was a "klutz" in sixth grade, when she surprised her father by asking to take ballet classes. By the end of her two-and-one-half years of lessons, she was able to dance on her toes. She later switched to modern dance, studying that for four years.

"I thoroughly enjoy movement to music," she said.

The Maryland Youth Ballet's Web site is www.MarylandYouthBallet.org . Its next major events are a gala, on March 8, 2014, and an end-of-year performance demonstration for the junior, advanced, and professional divisions.

Photo Credits: Maryland Youth Ballet

A Novel Approach to Fundraising by a Nonprofit Ballet Organization
Clara's Aunt (Carol Traywick) and the Dancers in the Maryland Youth Ballet's NUTCRACKER
A Novel Approach to Fundraising by a Nonprofit Ballet Organization
Maryland Delegate Sheila Hixson, Maryland Youth Ballet Principal Michelle Lees, and State Senator Jamie Hixson, after the lawmakers' appearance in THE NUTCRACKER
A Novel Approach to Fundraising by a Nonprofit Ballet Organization
Clara, with her nutcracker and her favorite aunt (played by Carol Traywick)
A Novel Approach to Fundraising by a Nonprofit Ballet Organization
Maryland lawmakers Del. Sheila Hixson and Sen. Jamie Raskin in costume for their appearances in THE NUTCRACKER, with the Maryland Youth Ballet
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Audrey Liebross Audrey Liebross retired in 2014 from writing legal briefs for a federal agency in DC. She now works as a writer in Palm Desert, California, where she can visit Disneyland to her heart's content. She is also a student at the College of the Desert, where she is studying voice and acting. Audrey has an obsession with "The Phantom of the Opera," and is hoping to finish her musical based on the Leroux novel between semesters. Audrey and her husband have three grown sons and two terrific grandkids. Her philosophy of life is to leave the world a better place than you found it, make lemonade out of lemons, and let your soul take you where you long to be.