Article Pixel

Originally had been scheduled to run May 29 – June 7, 2020, at McCaw Hall.


SEATTLE, WA, 4/13/20 - In light of the state of Washington's ongoing health and safety efforts around the COVID-19 pandemic, Pacific Northwest Ballet's Executive Director Ellen Walker and Artistic Director Peter Boal have announced that the organization has made the difficult decision to cancel its upcoming production of PITE-THARP-LIANG. Featuring works by Crystal Pite, Twyla Tharp, and a world premiere by Edwaard Liang, performances had been scheduled to take place May 29 - June 7. Ticket holders and subscribers will receive direct communication about their cancelled performances in the coming days. Due to high demands on our staff who are all working remotely, we are hoping that ticket holders will be patient when reaching out to the box office. Additionally, PNB will be cancelling its Season Encore Performance (originally scheduled for June 7), the Next Step choreographers' showcase (June 12) and 39th Annual PNB School Performances (June 13). No announcement has been made, at this time, regarding the status of the company's summer tours to New York City (June 23 - 28) and Sun Valley, ID (July 13 - 14).

In their announcement, Ms. Walker and Mr. Boal stated that "with each new day we learn more about the precautions we need to take in order to help keep ourselves, those in our community, and people around the world as safe and healthy as possible. We will continue to respect and follow the mandates and recommendations of our local and state government and public health experts, but the cancellation of classes, rehearsals, costume builds, choreography, crew calls, and performances is still painful. These are the things that define PNB. We're busy exploring ways to best capture some of the joy and inspiration we are unable to bring to the stage at this time, by providing digital content to subscribers and single ticket buyers, a virtual graduation for the PNB School students who would be leaving for jobs and colleges at the end of the school year, and a special Encore tribute for departing company dancers Benjamin Griffiths and Margaret Mullin."

These closures and cancellations will have a substantial impact on the organization: PNB earns over 75% of its funding through ticket sales and PNB School tuition. Without being able to perform or reopen the School by the conclusion of its fiscal year (June 30), offset by optimistic fundraising goals through June, PNB's revenue is forecasted to be down approximately $4 million. Most employees have already been furloughed, with remaining staff taking salary reductions, to help offset the loss of revenue.

Added Ms. Walker: "We're well aware of how distressing news of further cancellations is to our community of artists, staff, faculty, students, and audiences. The fact that this is playing out for every arts and culture organization makes it that much worse. Behind the scenes, our region's arts and culture organizations collaborate freely and often. We share artists, employees, and resources. Our ability to succeed as a business depends in large part on the ability of the sector as a whole to function; it really is an interdependent ecosystem. A common misperception is that arts organizations receive significant funding from the government, and while we're grateful for the support we do receive, government funds make up not quite 1% of PNB's overall budget. PNB is not sustainable without revenue from ticket sales and school tuition, which together account for 75% of our income. There is an even more persistent misperception that large arts organizations like PNB are kept afloat by their generous donors and therefore can weather adversity like this: Again, we are deeply grateful for our supporters at every level who have donated back the cost of their tickets or written a check to help the organization; our future would look very different without that invaluable support - but that support is just one part of the sustainability equation for PNB and many organizations like ours."

Mr. Boal and Ms. Walker concluded: "We have to hold onto the bright spots in all of this. Not bringing our treasured colleagues back to work at this time is hard. We continue to focus on tomorrow: PNB will be back and will bring back our dancers, students, employees and audiences as soon as it is safe to do so. Thank you for your understanding. Please stay healthy, safe, and optimistic."

Related Articles View More Dance Stories

From This Author Sondra Forsyth