The ballerinas and cavaliers of Channel Islands Ballet are hoping for $150,000 dollars in donations this month in order for the company to keep dancing.
A severe shortage of funding since Dec. 1 caused CIB to lay off its 10 professional dancers, but the company hopes to bring them back soon to rehearse for its spring program. The reason for the shortage: the state of the economy, said CIB Artistic Director Yves de Bouteiller.
“Funding has been cut from state and federal budgets for various arts organizations. The threat of war has also been a cause,” Bouteiller said.
Funding for arts organizations has been declining for the past few years. Bouteiller said that CIB funding in 2002 was 30 percent lower than the previous year.
Without the usual grants and funding from private foundations and corporate and individual donors, the CIB faces the threat of closure. A finale for Ventura County’s first and only ballet company would mean the end of CIB’s Arts for Youth program, which allows underprivileged schoolchildren to experience live theater performances.
“We need help now,” said Bouteiller, in hope the necessary funding will become available in time for the May program, “Spring, Love Songs.”
CIB dancers are currently auditioning for new jobs in case the company is unable to raise the necessary money to continue performing.
Bouteiller said the board of directors is looking for generous donors from Ventura County to contribute to the company, although donations are also welcome from sources outside the county. Last Friday, CIB received a pledge in the amount of $20,000 dollars that will be given to the organization if the board of directors succeeds in raising the remaining $130,000 dollars by April 1. The benefactors, Sandra and Jordan Laby and Micheline and Albert Sakharoff, are independent donors.
CIB recognizes the San Buenaventura Foundation as one of its major supporters. According to the foundation’s vice chair, Terry Reagan, the climate for arts and nonprofit organizations to survive is currently tough.
“The mission of the foundation is to try and help all the arts in the area since Ventura doesn’t have a real venue,” Reagan said.
The foundation is currently in partnership with the city of Ventura in developing a center for the arts in the downtown district, a place where the CIB could someday perform.
The money donated will go to the payment of outstanding bills and taxes owed and will buy time for the board and organization to find new sources of funding. If the money is raised, the CIB company will tour this spring. The first set of performances is scheduled at the Sherr Forum Theatre on May 10 and 11 in the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. Ticket sales will support the production of future performances. General admission is $22, while students are $12.
For more information, contact CIB at (805) 384-8558 between noon and 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. You can also visit the website at www.ciballet.org.