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The National Ballet of Canada Closes 2020 Season at a Deficit

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The 2019/20 season concluded with a deficit for the first time since 2009.

The National Ballet of Canada Closes 2020 Season at a Deficit

Karen Kain, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada, and Barry Hughson, Executive Director, today announced that the 2019/20 season concluded with a deficit for the first time since 2009, a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Annual General Meeting was held today at 7:00 pm virtually from Toronto.

Cornell C.V. Wright, Board Chair of The National Ballet of Canada, reported that the COVID-19-adjusted company revenues were $32.8 million with expenses at $33.1 million resulting in a deficit of $303,000.

"The 2019/20 season brought immense success and opportunity before closing prematurely due to COVID-19. We are enormously grateful for our donors, audiences, artists and staff for setting us in good stead to weather this storm and for continuing to stand with us as we work to create a bright future for this much-loved organization," said Mr. Wright.

"2020 has been a year for the record books and not in the way we had planned. It was to be a year of celebrating Karen Kain's 50th anniversary. While it breaks my heart that we didn't get to finish this very special season, there are still many things to celebrate," said Mr. Hughson. "Prior to March 12, when we gave our last performance, we were on track to meet or exceed box office and fundraising goals and operational expenses were right on target. From March to June, we moved from theoretical resilience to the real thing and I am so proud of how every member of this company rose to the truly unprecedented challenges of this pandemic. Despite box office losses of $4.9 million dollars, through cost cutting, government wage subsidy, performance interruption insurance and the support of our donors and subscribers, we were able to pay our dancers and musicians, as well as the majority of our administrative and production staff, fully to the end of the fiscal year on June 30. We ended the season with a modest deficit, our first since 2009. We know the most challenging part of this journey is not behind us but ahead of us and we will need the continued support of our donors, subscribers and government partners to get to the other side. But it is my belief that the arts will see an exciting renaissance in the years following COVID-19. People will flock back to theatres once again because they will know what the world feels like without theatres, live performances and shared human experiences. We just have to get there and together, we will."

"When we reflect on the 2019/20 season, what inevitably comes to mind are the significant, ongoing challenges brought on by the pandemic. But nothing can diminish what The National Ballet of Canada achieved, both onstage and off, leading up to that moment in March when everything closed," said Ms. Kain. "The 2019/20 season performances were some of the finest and most memorable of my career as Artistic Director. There were many highlights including the realization a 10-year dream of mine to have Crystal Pite return to the company. Her breathtaking creation, Angels' Atlas, is a ballet as rich in beauty, mystery and human yearning as anything that I have seen. The company also dazzled audiences and critics alike in Washington D.C. in performances of The Sleeping Beauty with Sarah Kaufman of The Washington Post hailing our production: 'I have seen many "Sleeping Beauties," but never a finer one than this moving and beautiful production.' We also performed a mixed programme of William Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and Approximate Sonata 2016 with Alexei Ratmansky's Piano Concerto #1 and Jiří Kylián's Petite Mort. The Toronto season featured the exciting world premiere of Orpheus Alive by Choreographic Associate Robert Binet and outstanding performances by our Principal women in the title role of Giselle. We also said farewell to Principal Dancer Greta Hodgkinson in the company premiere of Marguerite and Armand after a stellar 30-year career. We had just begun a run of performances of Alexei Ratmansky's Romeo and Juliet when things came to a halt as performance venues closed. Since then, the world as we knew it has changed. We have been faced with challenges unforeseen and still unfolding and we don't know what the future holds, but I am so proud of this organization for the resiliency and spirit that everyone has brought to facing these challenges."

The National Ballet presented 2,878 performances and community events, plus many digital initiatives, with a total overall reach of 5,553,239.

Prior to the cancellation of performances due to the pandemic, there were 56 performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts with 94,262 in attendance. The company held 2,810 live and digital community events reaching 195,328 people. The National Ballet's virtual initiatives including video, social media and email campaigns had a total reach of 5,247,705.

On tour, the National Ballet performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and Fall for Dance North at Meridian Hall in Toronto for a total of 10 performances and 15,684 audience members.

YOU dance, the company's flagship community engagement programme, reached 6,660 students in the Greater Toronto Area through workshops and performances. The company provided a Relaxed Performance at the Betty Oliphant Theatre with 255 attendees and 4 digital workshops with 80 participants. Dance About, the National Ballet's in school programme, reached 2,100 students through 7 performances, making classical ballet more accessible to young people. Through the Ministry of Education's Specialist High Skills Majors programme, 100 students attended 1 workshop and performance. There were 3 Student Matinees with 615 students in attendance.

Due to the pandemic, the annual YOU dance livestream and residency was unable to take place, however the company was able to creatively reach 136,148 people in the community, including essential service workers, through digital initiatives such as Gratitude Classes, Sharing the Stage and Ballet Fun for Kids.

The National Ballet's Share the Magic programme continued to provide free access to youth and families who could not otherwise attend a ballet performance. Last season, Share the Magic brought the joy of dance to 2,990 audience members at no cost through 3 special performances. 200 members of the community also attended 2 ballet performances for free through Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts' citySPECIAL programme, arranged through 128 social service agencies.

CreativAction, an initiative to share The National Ballet of Canada's resources, aims to develop Canadian choreographic talent and support the dance community in Toronto. The 2019/20 season included 1 Choreographic Workshop with 50 attendees. There was 1 micro-commission and through Open Space, the National Ballet provided 891 hours in the company's studios for free to 25 independent choreographers.

In Studio, the National Ballet's dance and fitness programme for adults and teens, provided 2,178 live classes, workshops, dance intensives and master classes to 24,710 participants. During COVID-19, In Studio moved online providing 377 classes over Zoom for 2,163 participants.

The National Ballet celebrates charitable giving at every level and is grateful for the 4,424 community members who generously donated in 2019/20. In total, donors and volunteers raised $8.74 million to support the company's priorities. Donors are recognized through special programmes including The Producers' Circle, Dancers First, Patrons' Council and Friends' Corps, as well as our international affiliates American Friends of The National Ballet of Canada and the UK Friends of The National Ballet of Canada.

The National Ballet of Canada is grateful to The Volunteer Committee, The National Ballet of Canada for its continued dedication and support. Last season, the committee helped fund the world premiere of Angels' Atlas and has pledged support to the world premiere of Swan Lake. In total, the Volunteer Committee has supported 54 new works to date through their vital Build-a-Ballet Fund.

The National Ballet of Canada, Endowment Foundation fund balances were $77 million as of June 30, 2020, a modest decline of $2.1 million resulting from significant market volatility, offset by robust contributions during the year. The Endowment Foundation made a grant of $3.7 million to the National Ballet in 2019/20.

Mr. Wright welcomed new board members Sandra Odendahl, Vice President, Social Impact & Sustainability, Scotiabank, and Nichole Anderson Bergeron, Former President & CEO, Business for the Arts. Mr. Wright recognized and thanked retiring board members Ryan McNally, Head of Private Wealth Management, National Office, TD Bank, Rebecca Mooney, Head of Marketing, Vanguard, Karen Sparks, President of the Volunteer Committee, The National Ballet of Canada, and Director, Wealth Planning at BMO Wealth Management, and Dan Sullivan, Volunteer/Corporate Director.

Gold service pins are awarded yearly to employees of The National Ballet of Canada who have been with the company for 20 years. Ms. Kain awarded long service pins to Principal Dancer Jillian Vanstone, Second Soloist Tiffany Mosher who retired from the stage in June 2020, Mark Dharmaratnam, Trumpet, Lynn Kuo, Assistant Concertmaster, Johann Lotter, Viola, and Master Carpenter Paul McNamara.

Sophie Letendre, Manager, Artistic Scheduling, Angela Rudden, Viola, Charles Seminerio, Wig and Make-up Supervisor, and Henry Martins, Building Maintenance Supervisor, were recognized for 25 years.

Principal Dancer Sonia Rodriguez, Derek Conrod, Horn, Jayne Maddison, Violin, Veronica McLellan, Associate Director, ADS, Lucie Parent, Principal Harp, Hans Preuss, Principal Bass, and Wendy Rogers, Violin, were honoured for 30 years with the National Ballet.

Maurizio Baccante, Principal Cello, Elizabeth Gowen, Bassoon, and Gary Kidd, Clarinet, marked 35 years of service.

David Archer, Trombone, was recognized for 40 years with the company.

Artistic Director Karen Kain celebrated her 50th anniversary with the company. Principal Character Artist Tomas Schramek marked 50 years the previous season, however celebrations recognizing this milestone during Romeo and Juliet were cancelled due to the pandemic.

The 2019/20 season marked the retirement of Principal Dancer Greta Hodgkinson. Ms. Hodgkinson joined the company in 1990 and was named Artist-in-Residence in 2019. Principal Character Artists Lorna Geddes and Hazaros Surmeyan retired after 60 and 53 years, respectively, Second Soloist Brent Parolin after 6 years, Ron Mah, Violin, after 37 years, Stephen Mosher, Principal Bassoon, after 44 years and Paul Langley, Bass, after 31 years with the company.

After 10 years with the National Ballet, Principal Dancer Francesco Gabriele Frola will dance full-time with English National Ballet as a Lead Principal, appearing as a Guest Artist with the National Ballet in future performances. Principal Dancer Elena Lobsanova, who joined in 2004, and First Soloist Hannah Fischer, who joined in 2012, have departed the company to join Miami City Ballet as Principal and Principal Soloist, respectively. Corps de Ballet members Jimmy Coleman, joined in 2015, Nicholas Rose, joined in 2018, and


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