World renowned arts expert Michael Lynch works with Northern Ballet, who have received an unprecedented cut to their government grant and must lose some of their dancers.
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'Ny name's Michael Lynch.
'Having run some of the world's biggest cultural institutions,
'I think the UK's are among the best.'
People like going to London and Britain
because they get to see a lot of things they don't have elsewhere.
I think the arts really define the brand of Britain.
'But now Britain's broke, and arts organisations are vying
'with welfare and education for their share of the public purse.'
A lot of them will find it much too hard to survive over this next year.
I think that's a real tragedy for Britain.
One of the things you've always had,
over hundreds of years but more importantly,
over the last 20 or 30, is the quality of what you do artistically.
You pretty much lead the world.
'After running the Opera House back home in Sydney, I left Australia,
'and came over to the UK ten years ago,
'to overhaul Southbank Centre in London.'
What I've mostly done is instigate change,
and then do the change, and then get out.
During my time there, I doubled visitor numbers,
raised the cash to refurbish Royal Festival Hall,
and transformed it into the most dynamic arts centre in the world.
'Now, I'm going to help two unique organisations
'whose futures are under threat.
'The UK's only operating Regency theatre...'
Wow, a brilliant space!
'..and the only classical ballet company in the North of England.
'They're tackling unprecedented cuts...'
I am sitting here with a half a million pounds hole in our budget,
and I've run out of actual options.
-I find the seat I was sitting in pretty uncomfortable.
I guess the big challenge I'd put to you is,
what are you going to do about it?
'And financial peril.'
I admire your pluck. I just think the reality is,
you're heading into another year where you are very much on the edge,
and, unless you've got some magic, the challenges are very big.
I think change in Britain is quite difficult.
I think there is, to some extent, an unquestioning belief
that the way we've been doing it is the way we can keep on doing it.
Well, look what happened to your Empire.
Ballet is traditionally seen as the preserve of the elite.
But for the last 40 years,
Leeds-based Northern Ballet has pioneered a more populist approach.
They employ highly-trained dancers, and an acclaimed orchestra,
to produce innovative, story-based shows
which appeal to wide audiences.
People generally think of classical ballet as the traditional,
classic Swan Lakes and Nutcrackers, but often that it's
not something you can necessarily go along ,
and understand or appreciate.
For me, for people to come along, be entertained,
understand the story, and get the best out of the performance -
I think that's what makes it special.
They were the first ballet company to be based outside London,
and spend each year touring to towns that wouldn't otherwise
see classical dance.
I've loved Northern Ballet since I was really small.
They toured at a theatre close to my home, and I watched them.
Every single ballet I saw them perform,
I just wanted to be part of it.
It's like finding peace, that moment, just before you go on stage,
and all of your worry, and all your anxieties,
and all the pressures just disappear, and for a moment
you're just there, with just you and the audience, and it's wonderful.
Let's see the whole thing again.
It's the start of 2011,
and Northern Ballet has high hopes for the year ahead.
You're not going to kill anybody with your arm work.
It looks uninteresting.
Canadian Artistic Director David Nixon is working on a new ballet
about the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
And, bite! Bite! Bite! No... You bite!
It's the 11th new ballet he's created
in just ten years at the company.
This is the brother and sister.
They are so similar, it comes out at the same MOMENT!
In addition to being one of the country's
most prolific choreographers, he's won multiple awards,
and received an OBE in 2010 for services to dance.
There is nothing more rewarding than to see a young dancer
give a performance that is so rewarding all round,
and you see the sense of achievement in them.
That's what makes the job worthwhile.
Behind the scenes, chief executive Mark Skipper has just unveiled
a new state-of-the-art home for the company,
after 14 years operating out of a disused school.
I'm hoping that everything is suddenly coming together.
We've got the new home after so many years,
and we've got our wonderful new production of Cleopatra.
Things are going up very positively for us at the moment,
and hopefully it's just the start of everything else to come.
-Welcome to our new home.
It's kind of like a honeymoon when everything comes together,
and I think it is, right now.
I think we're on a high, and I think now is our moment.
Are you ready? One, two, three, go!
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
But, with recession deepening,
funding for the arts is under threat.
It's March 2011, and every arts organisation in the country
has had to reapply for the grants that keep them going.
I think the government should really think of giving us moneys,
because it's, especially in a world that's so gloomy
in financial areas right now,
it's a break. It gives people release, it gives them relief.
It's what got me through school.
If there hadn't have been the arts there - even things like art lessons,
and music and drama and all of those things -
school would have been just repulsive,
just would have been awful.
So, yeah, I'd fear for the arts in the United Kingdom.
At the moment, Northern Ballet gets just over £3 million a year
in government subsidy -
significantly less than any of the other three ballet companies
It's money they use to fund the dancers, orchestra and support staff
to tour ballets to 15 different towns and cities across the UK.
Can you just try this for the minute?
But the old certainties no longer apply.
Over 200 groups will lose their funding from Arts Council England.
The body, which supports theatres, galleries and arts companies,
says over 300 other organisations also face a cut in real terms.
Today, every arts chief executive in England
is about to learn their funding fate.
I do feel that the funding decision from the Arts Council
is likely to be positive,
just on the basis that we've just moved in this amazing new building.
It was funded majorly by both the city, and by the Arts Council.
It would seem a little curious that, to have made that investment,
they wouldn't then invest in the product that will come out of it.
OK. Here it is.
Well, on the surface, the initial reaction is not amazing.
The numbers are disappointing.
So it's quite a lot less than we expected,
and the impact is significant.
Northern Ballet has received a 15% cut in funding,
the same percentage as the other major ballet companies.
From April 2012, when the cuts kick in, they'll have to survive
on half a million pounds less a year for the next three years.
I am significantly disappointed with the level of funding granted.
It was distressing. I was quite depressed.
You have to start at the bottom again
as what the company can be.
How many dancers can it have? What can we do as a performing company?
England would be a very boring place
if you could only see ballet in London.
I've spent my career hustling money to help arts organisations survive.
Now I want to help Northern Ballet get over the fallout of the cuts.
Any company outside London has much greater difficulty
trying to raise support,
whether it be sponsorship, fundraising.
It's just a much harder ask.
The underdog always appeals to me,
and the idea of being able to help them solve some of their problems
is the real attraction of wanting to do this.
I like the building. It looks great.
Erm, I'd like to know where the people are.
'I'm arriving at Northern Ballet
'just a fortnight after the cuts were announced.'
Hello. Michael Lynch to see Mark Skipper, please.
'Mark's been at Northern Ballet for 25 years,
'rising through the ranks to become chief executive in 1996.'
-Mark, Michael Lynch. Good to...
-Welcome to Northern Ballet.
Thank you. It's fantastic. No, really good to be here.
While the dancers rehearse for Cleopatra,
I've asked to meet Mark's team, to hear how they're planning
to deal with their biggest financial crisis in recent memory.
The reality is that we're looking to find half a million
for 2012/13 onwards.
We've come up with two scenarios for next year,
and neither of them are actually palatable, or acceptable,
but we felt that the right thing to do
was to at least have to a fallback position that we can start from.
What we've got is, is Model One -
that actually means reducing dancers.
At the moment we've got 39 dancers?
Going down to 37 this year?
Going down, yes, so it would be down seven for next year.
And then down another seven to thirty. Now, that is hideous.
Sorry, going down to 30?
Going down to 30, yeah. So that's sort of Model One.
Model Two will be to actually perform to recorded music
in all venues other than Leeds.
Do you know whether they would stop booking you?
I think that would mean a step down.
Of all the four companies, we'd be the only one then performing...
-Yeah. Fair enough.
-..to non-live music.
Our opinion, having discussed it quite a lot,
is that we're sadly better off losing dancers if we have to,
rather than going on a model without an orchestra at this stage.
The only way to avoid cutting dancers will be
to raise money themselves.
At the moment, only 7% of Northern Ballet's annual income
comes through fundraising,
with more than 50% coming from government.
Director of Fundraising is Jon Ingham.
It's trying to up the game on all the different partnerships
that we do at the moment.
Because it is an issue.
We are a long way away from the money.
But there's not just money in London.
There's plenty money in Yorkshire.
They've got enough companies on the ask in London.
I think the big problem, is on the fundraising fact.
You've got to ask.
Someone said, the worst thing you could ever say
when you're asking for money is "no",
and as long as you don't take that
as a complete rejection of your personality,
and everything you've done,
you then get on and ask someone else,
and eventually there's a fair chance
you'll find someone else who might be able to do it.
'The company had to cut back two dancers last year,
'so ditching another seven
'would mean losing almost a quarter of their performers.'
Many arts organisations tend to do things
the way they've done things in the past.
I think, to some extent,
what decisions like these funding cuts have made,
they really require the arts organisations
to fundamentally rethink some of those things.
But if they keep going the way they've always done -
"We're going to cut the dancers, we're going to cut the new shows,
we're going to cut the music," they'll eventually cut the thing
to the point where there's no justification for it existing.
Out on the road, the company put on 150 performances a year -
more than any of the other major ballet companies.
And where the other companies can afford two or three times
as many dancers, Northern Ballet barely has enough to cover injuries.
Physically, there's so much pressure.
You have to be in shape through the entire year,
which I think is a huge pressure
because there's times you just want to let loose.
You pretty much danced with some sort of pain or injury
for at least 50% of the time.
Yeah, so it's tough. It's really tough.
Despite mounting pressures behind the scenes,
Cleopatra's proving a smash with audiences.
I want to understand for myself
what effect losing dancers would have on the work.
Cleopatra's a mythical and complex character,
both politically astute queen and seductive lover.
David's choreography is set to an original score
by Claude-Michel Schonberg, composer of Les Miserables.
To understand ballet at the best of times is a bit of a challenge.
This, I thought was very compelling.
It's a very raunchy piece. There were points you thought,
"Ooh, the orgy scenes... It's quite rich!"
Many ballet companies working in big capital cities,
will have 70, 80, 90 dancers.
They've got 37 in the whole of the company,
and I guess they probably would be using nearly all of them out there,
at some stage tonight.
And so cutting a number of dancers from this company
would impact on their competitiveness,
and would make it very difficult to be able to continue doing
that style of work on that sort of rigorous touring schedule.
Overcoming a funding black hole of half a million a year won't be easy.
They need to find £200,000 a year to fund new ballets
and £50,000 for outreach and education.
The average dancer's salary is £25,000 a year,
so they need the other quarter of a million
to get to the 40 dancers they had before the recession hit in 2008.
As it's the dancers' jobs on the line,
I want to hear how they feel about the cuts.
Being a dancer for me is just everything.
I don't have any other option in my life.
It sounds silly, but it means the world to me,
and without ballet in my life, I don't know what I'd have.
Because of the situation in the country as it is now,
loads of people's jobs are on the line, but if your job is lost
because of these cuts, you won't get another one.
It's not just the end of that job, it's the end of your career.
What's hard to contemplate about it is that you're talking about
young dancers that you've just given an opportunity to
that you're now have to say, "Well, that's it, that's all we can offer".
I have some kids that I would like to keep on,
and I do think they have potential to potentially do something,
but if I have to cut the numbers down,
they already know that they're the ones that wouldn't be kept.
'20-year-old apprentice Josh Barwick is the only dancer
'born and raised in Leeds.'
What makes Northern Ballet special to you?
What's the attraction of working with them?
I've grown up in Leeds, so obviously I've grown up around the company,
and then I went to the Academy when I was younger,
so I've been around Northern Ballet all my life, really.
From a personal point of view, did it feel a bit scary when
when they started talking about the idea that they will lose dancers?
Definitely. The higher up in the company you are,
it's automatic you will probably stay on.
But obviously for an apprentice, it looks like I could just be out.
Obviously, we've still got a job to do,
so you have to put that out of your head when you go onstage,
and give them a performance as if nothing was going on.
'Josh started dancing when he was 13,
'and parents Pam and Simon
'have been his number one fans ever since.'
I work in a fish and chip shop and Simon's a skip driver, aren't you?
-Yep, HGV driver.
So we've had nothing really to do with dance, ever.
I think a lot of people sort of would've thought ballet dancers,
"Er, no, it's not a bloke's thing," or whatever,
but the girls and the lads work so hard.
They're so fit, big strong lads,
and people didn't really realise how hard they did work for it
So, how was it this year
when suddenly Northern Ballet got that very public cut?
Awful. I've never felt so sick in all my life.
He'd worked so hard,
and he was in the company and everything was great.
He'd got this job that he always wanted,
and then through no fault of his own,
and no fault of the company's,
all of a sudden there could be job losses.
Now, I lost my father last May,
erm, last March, sorry.
And the shock that I felt when they phoned to say my dad
had collapsed and died in Morrisons is the exact same shock
I felt when Josh phoned me on that Wednesday.
I just could not believe it. I felt numb.
You know, dancing is his whole life, and we were just devastated.
I want to help Northern Ballet channel the dancers'passion
for the good of their fundraising efforts.
Today was one story about the local boy, but there are
another 35 stories that can be told
about the people who are in that company,
and that is most likely to be more powerful
as a way of building the broad support,
the financial support, and the fundraising support for them.
I think allowing the dancers to be
the ambassadors for the company is probably the most powerful tool
that the company has to build - the broadest form of support.
I want to find out what the more experienced dancers
think about playing an active role in the fundraising drive.
'Vicky Goldsmith and husband Darren are two of the company's
How do you both feel about it from the perspective
of long-term dancers and employees of the company?
The facts of life are, a lot of our productions,
there's maybe only one or two people in the company off that evening
and as soon as you start cutting a couple,
and everybody's on every night, we'd have problems.
To maintain the number of dancers is very important
and I think any way we can do that is perfectly valid.
How do you feel about the dancers being involved in supporting
the fundraising side of what the company does?
Over the last couple of months, we haven't been kept in the loop.
We do keep falling up short, but things just get told 12 hours
before we're going to do it, the day before, the evening of the show.
It's kind of building up and it's not just
every now and then that it happens it's all the time.
In terms of after-show events,
anything that any of the dancers can do, we're all more than happy to do.
You know, you want to feel like you're helping as well.
If I was going to give money to a dance company,
I'd want to be able to talk to the dancers, I think,
and understand where the dancers came from.
And to me it seems a no-brainer in that situation.
You have to involve the dancers in that exercise.
I want to understand why the dancers don't feel
they're playing a pivotal role in fundraising.
So I'm visiting another two senior dancers,
Kenny Tindall and Hannah Bateman.
What's communication like?
I don't feel the dancers are used enough, in my personal opinion,
and we're not informed enough and I think there's a feeling that,
it's not that we don't care but perhaps we're not,
we have a really low average age
and I think sometimes that works against us.
It is difficult because of the schedule as well.
We're out on the road so much,
by the time we actually find out about something
or if they need to use us, it's very last-minute.
Because of our different working environments,
unless you go looking for it,
I don't know where we are with funding.
-You just hear about the cuts?
-The bad stuff.
And the consequences.
And then the worst thing is the rumours about the cuts
which inevitably aren't going to be as bad or, hopefully not as bad,
but then there's panic in the company
when you start hearing things like that.
Does Mark talk a lot to the dancers?
No. No. He avoids us, cos we ask him awkward questions
and I bet we are a pain,
-cos we just ask him outright as well.
-And you're all pretty pushy.
So I assume that you would, so he hides!
Yeah. Yeah, he does.
I got the sense from them that, you know,
because of the nature of the way the company works,
they're on the road for 20, 30 weeks a year
and there's quite significant divorce between the dancers
and the administration of the company.
And it seemed to me that, one of the things, having met the dancers,
was to try and use the dancers in some focused way
to help with how you are going raise the money to ensure
that the company, you know, kept the dancers together.
It's now three weeks since the cuts were announced.
Mark needs to submit next year's budget at the end of the year,
so he's got just nine months to raise the money needed
to save the dancers' jobs.
The issue I'm most exercised by going forward, is,
broadly around the issue of the fundraising.
You want your fund raising and communications
and marketing people to really get on their bikes.
It's not a surprise to hear you say that.
It's just how much, you know, can we realistically achieve?
Certainly in the short term.
We were just talking about the reality of losing dancers.
It's almost like the campaign is, is the "Buy Back A Dancer" campaign.
It's actually, at the moment, we're saying
we'll be down seven dancers, you are the donor, give us £25,000
and you're buying back a dancer, for example.
That's the new campaign we thought of today.
Well, no, the fundraising team should be out there putting in place
the, you know, the framework for that.
I think that's quite important
and you've got some really articulate dancers
but I wonder whether they're being used to get the message out.
I agree with you. It would be one of my criticisms
of the way we fundraise
and that's, um, even myself and the dancers,
-we're treated as decorations, often, rather than tools.
I'd never, ever, in ten years sat at a discussion that I recall,
with someone important about asking for money.
To me, that's something where I don't think you've actually, you know,
really yet scratched into, you know, what the potential might be.
The decorative approach is not probably going to work, in my view.
I do tend to agree that we have very articulate dancers and I think,
if they are instructed with the right way of going about asking,
you know, they can be at events.
I think from, from my perspective
it's feeling we've all got our roles to play.
The dancers have been out there on stage working hard,
doing an excessively long tour
and it's a balance about how much more you expect them to have to do.
It should our responsibility to actually raise the funding
that allows them to carry on doing what they are best equipped to do.
I can understand from Mark's point of view,
he's passionately devoted 15 or more years of his life to that company.
He probably thinks he can do it better than anyone else
and advice from a man from Down Under
is probably not an easy thing for him to accept.
The Cleopatra tour hits the capital.
London's the epicentre of UK fundraising,
so they're pulling out all the stops
for a star-studded first night in the city.
The opening night in London is a big deal for the company
and the best way to get celebrities along is to actually invest in them.
Um, there's an agency, and you pay them a fee
and they guarantee you a certain number of celebrities for your fee
so I think we've probably got about 20-odd celebrities from the agency.
We've probably got about a dozen from our own resources
so it's great. We do know some people ourselves!
HUBBUB FROM PAPARAZZI
When the bulbs start flashing from the paparazzi, it's just amazing.
I could get used to that.
I just want to find Lorraine Kelly. Where's she gone?
The showbiz glitz is good for Northern Ballet's media profile.
But I'm interested in their event at a nearby restaurant -
their first fundraiser since the cuts.
In a room packed with wealthy London socialites,
it's crucial that the dancers are used effectively.
It's great that you can help us with the fundraising effort.
I think the worst bit about the function in London,
was the fact that the dancers felt used.
nobody felt like that they had any information
so they were just stood there at an event, in costumes,
kind of feeling very devalued.
I think people want to talk to the dancers.
I don't think that they just want to look at them.
They're not just mannequins.
The dancers have a lot to offer and, if they're properly briefed,
I think, if they're at an event then they should be involved that way.
The big wigs tuck in,
but the dancers are relegated to their own table
at the back of the restaurant.
There's an assumption that ballet dancers have nothing to say,
you know, they can only sit there and look pretty.
Um, I think that it's clearly not the case with Northern Ballet.
Those dancers can talk, and engage with you.
You use them actively as ambassadors, not as decoration on the cake.
When the company get back to base from touring,
there's no let-up in the hard work for the dancers.
While for David, the priority is always the next new production.
What I wanted was to get that look of the trousers
that are hanging down here.
With underwear that says "removal".
Mark's kicking off the "Buy Back A Dancer" campaign.
Funding at the moment is hugely difficult.
There are a lot of organisations
who went through the Arts Council funding process
so everybody is actually targeting the same people.
Mark's hoping to beat the competition to the charitable trust funds
that support the arts.
It's a notoriously tough market to crack.
At the moment our real casualty is our dancers
which is disastrous for a company which is giving 150 performances,
you know, around the country.
It's very hard work.
Constantly almost begging for money that's what it feels like.
It's, often, it's a process of engagement with a funder,
but at the end of the day, for the most part,
you're still begging for money.
Mark's quickly picked up the fundraising pace,
but I've got some concerns about the tone of the new campaign.
Well, you know, the "Buy Back A Dancer" campaign
headlines their fundraising, and their first message there is,
without your financial support, we would unable to continue our work.
I guess the issue there is, is that creating the right sort of messages for the outside world?
You know, people usually, in terms of sponsorship and fundraising, want to back winners
and they want to know that the company's moving forward.
I just wonder whether, you know, it's phrased in the right way.
Northern Ballet have only got one shot at getting this fundraising campaign right,
so I'm bringing in one of the best in the business to help.
Karen Napier was my head of fundraising at Southbank Centre.
She's come to talk to Mark and his fundraising team.
The very connotation of "buy back" of "we've lost"
it's crisis language, it's crisis fundraising.
It absolutely is crisis. I am sitting here at the moment
with this half a million pounds hole in our budget, and I've run out of actual options.
But it comes through in the way you're communicating on your website.
Everything that we had aspired to has been destroyed by the Arts Council's funding cuts.
I think that there is a much more empowering language
that you could perhaps work on and think about
that doesn't imply you're filling a hole.
No funder, whether it's our own modest philanthropy
that we put into the charities that matter to us,
whether it's a bigger philanthropist,
you don't want to fund black holes, you don't want to fund crisis.
You want to fund success.
Tell us why this is going to be an amazing story.
Your dancers are your single greatest asset here.
That's what makes you different, what makes you unique.
The reality is your only Leeds dancer is, you know, an apprentice
and I bet that we could... If we have to, we'll walk the streets
to find people who are going to actually pick up responsibility for funding Josh.
I would be cautious about being specific about a particular dancer because who are we to...?
But it's the story.
Yeah, it's the story. Who are we sitting here to make a judgement,
-whether Josh is the best dancer for us to have in the company?
-He's here now, here now.
I don't want to have a conversation about a particular dancer, saying "We're going to try and get Josh..."
No, no, we used Josh because of the issue of Leeds and I guess...
It's a great local story. How fantastic. I think you have to...
You have to inspire people to want to give to you.
Can I just ask you, where does your artistic director fit in to the meetings?
David attends some meetings.
Yeah, David's ability to attend things is reasonably limited historically.
He's been the choreographer for virtually every production we've done for the last ten years.
So it means that pretty much he's tied up in creating in the studio.
Most of our repertoire is his, so he's rehearsing it.
He loves to design costumes, so he's often designing costumes. So he's very, very busy,
so we don't, sort of, bring him out all of the time.
But I guess it's a priority issue for David as much as is it is for, you know, the company,
that, sort of, the idea that David is spending all of the time
involved in costumes and other things, clearly could be more productively used.
I think it can be frustrating when you get advice from consultants
who have only got a, perhaps, limited snapshot of the organisation
and doesn't necessary understand the bigger picture.
Personally, you know a bit more about how your organisation operates.
So it's not necessarily going to be the only way forward.
I think he's a quite stubborn... You know, sort of believes there's a way of doing things,
and it's hard to make him deviate from, you know,
the course that he's chosen. So, from that point of view I think
it was just necessary for him to take on board that and reflect about it.
PIANO ACCOMPANIES DANCERS
It's still too fast! It's... It's not that fast.
Cos they just look like little electric mice out there trying to waltz,
rather than normal humans.
In the studio, David and the dancers are working on their own modern version of Hamlet.
When you go up into the lift, you're not holding that attitude position.
Behind the scenes, Karen's advice has started to kick in.
I think the meeting we had with Karen a while ago
was useful for the fundraising team to get another person's perspective.
I think they probably took quite a lot from the comments that she made.
I mean, certainly the one thing that we have focused on particularly
is turning that negative situation in terms of the dancers into a positive,
so going from "Buy Back A Dancer" to "Sponsor A Dancer"
is very much having listened to her thoughts.
The new "Sponsor A Dancer" campaign will target all levels of donor,
from big business down to individual givers.
What are we going to do about lower levels?
Have we got some plans for people who can't afford to give, sort of, thousands?
Yeah, I mean, I think our idea was really that there'd be one level of £50,
which we would target towards audience members.
So how many bits of each dancer can we sell?
Well, I wasn't planning on...
You're selling a leg!
I'm not going to be like, "You get a toe".
A lot of people do that, without meaning to compare our dancers,
but you know, kind of, they do sponsor penguins and polar bears.
It's true, though, that is basically where the idea comes from!
The fundraising team have also been using David to help pitch for corporate cash.
You know, we do provide an awful lot of opportunity,
so I get a lot of development of young people and then they become...
You know, they find out who they are through these story ballets,
because you have to invest a lot as a person when you're doing the character.
That's what I did when I was in my former company
I used to go on the fundraising, the big meetings.
I think when I first came here all the artistic director did
was brought out to speak at an event and then put away in the cupboard again.
And there's already some good news.
One of the charitable trusts that Mark saw earlier in the summer
has pledged 50,000 a year for the next two years.
With the funding they've given us it will actually mean that we can,
sort of, retain, or "buy back", two dancers for two years.
So, you know, that's actually quite good, it means that
our total depression of going down to 30 dancers now may only be 32.
-So that's a...
-Incrementally working up.
Yeah. And that's what it has to be, isn't it, so that's really good.
'The challenges that Northern Ballet are working on are very immediate.'
There's a real sense of all hands on deck and, you know,
the company working together, so to some extent, you know, the crisis
around the funding is galvanizing activity and action from them.
But they're still a long way from saving all of the dancers' jobs.
It's September, and while the dancers are focussing on
David's version of Hamlet, set in Nazi-occupied France,
the end of the year, and Mark's budget deadline, is looming.
Time's running out to avert a tragedy.
Mark and John are planning an official launch event
for Sponsor A Dancer at a local hotel.
Getting it right will be crucial.
So we've got a lot of, um, staff involved, we've got,
-probably eight to ten dancers, Jon?
-Yeah, eight to ten dancers.
So, we 're really trying to get the company involved,
those people who can talk passionately about the company, to be there interacting with the guests.
Are you going to ask the Arts Council?
I can't remember whether we've invited them or not, but it's a good idea.
I think, bearing in mind they've helped you with the building,
and they help you anyway, despite the fact that they've still sliced you, and you want them back
in the game, then, you know, I think it has to be recognised that they have a role
and if they're going to help you, they'll probably turn up.
If they're not going to help you, they probably won't come, so it'll be an interesting gauge.
'It was, really, a major oversight, I think,'
on the company's part that they hadn't invited the Arts Council.
They still give them millions of pounds and, you know, it was really
important, I think, in terms of, you know, getting over
some of the hiccups that have occurred post, you know, the funding decisions.
Before the launch, I've asked Vicky and Hannah to air
the dancers' concerns about past fundraising.
A few occasions have arisen now where things have been
mis-communicated and I think if we were able to sit down
and have a talk about it we can stop it from happening again, as it were.
There's a combination of a few events that have happened
-where we don't feel like we've been fully prepared.
Or we could've been prepared better and made much better
use of them, um, as in being able to sit down and talk to the people
that are at these fundraising events and knowing exactly who they are.
So, I think, the more information we get the earlier,
then we can be more prepared and we can share it out between us all.
Oh, I was incredibly nervous, yeah, um, really nervous because,
also when you're talking about these things,
you're incredibly passionate about them and,
and so you need to remain in a business frame of mind
when you're talking about them and not get carried away with it,
but obviously, um, I'm not used to that situation, my work environment
is either the stage or the studio, it's not an office.
One of the problems I'm sort of aware of is the fact that,
quite often, sort of, the senior, um, principal cast members
have been called on quite a lot to,
to go to events, and that's always quite difficult
because the sponsors or the guests always want to, sort of,
get to chat to the people they've seen on stage and been featured.
No, I think that's fine. If we could make it almost, like, um, when
we did do events like that, if there were some sort of introduction.
I know that's probably a quite tricky thing to do, but that would help break the ice.
Almost one of us needs to take you to a group.
I agree with absolutely everything you're saying.
So we can actually make these things happen and I would say, if it doesn't, please come back to me
and tell me straightaway, so we don't get a situation where your life is being made more difficult.
You never sit down and talk straight to the person you need to.
'Because it's the first one we had, it did feel like a breakthrough.'
I think power structures in dance companies are, you know,
very out of date with, you know, modern leadership
and modern management, and it's good when you've got dancers
like Hannah and Vicky and, you know, some of the others who will
stand up for themselves and stand up for their colleagues.
With the success of Sponsor A Dancer key to saving their jobs,
the dancers are being primed for a fundraising blitz.
When you arrive at your table it is a question of just introducing yourself to the guest...
They're being briefed on how to charm potential donors.
Find out what they're interested in in terms of what they thought of the costumes, the ballets,
but don't underestimate that they're interested to find out about you.
You know, why you got involved in dance?
What, what, what is it like?
They're also filming messages that push their personalities
and passion for the company.
My dream for Northern Ballet is to keep creating new work and to
maintain the high standards and professionalism that we have today.
If we don't have enough dancers then we simply won't be able to
put on the productions that we've become famous for.
'OK, so I'm not as young and good-looking as the dancers,
'but I'm doing my bit too.'
What I really like about Northern Ballet is that they are continuously
creating new works and they're able to do this because they've got
a fantastic, sexy, eloquent and, and really resilient group of dancers.
They make Olympic athletes look like wimps.
Mark's just heard that another of the charitable trusts is going
to give 50,000 next year, which saves another two dancers.
But they can't stop there. I'm hoping
their big Sponsor A Dancer launch event
will be the start of something special.
Hopefully it will make people aware of just, um,
how good the company is.
They are supporters but, um, it's like everything,
you have to keep telling them, keep telling them, and we just have
to really, um, make sure that people know that this company is important.
'Tonight's the first chance to unleash
'the dancers on the locals with the money to make a difference.'
I'm really excited, I'm a little bit nervous as well
because we're going to be sitting around the table with
lots of new faces tonight and it's always, it's always
a bit shaky at the beginning, until you get to know people.
I mean, hopefully they'll drink a lot of alcohol
and that the speech will be flowing.
'They're also launching the campaign through local media
'and have decided to make use of their in-house local boy.'
Been quite busy, quite a lot of press, but it's great.
Who knows, somebody could potentially
want to sponsor any of the dancers or, fingers crossed, you know, me!
'I'm also thrilled that they've got Alan Davey,
'the chief executive of the Arts Council, along.'
So tell me about the Sponsor A Dancer scheme.
We've had various strands, obviously,
to combat the shortfall in funding, and then this campaign is,
sort of, the positive, um, appeal to our audiences and corporates,
to actually directly sponsor individual dancers.
'Today, Northern Ballet is one of the UK's best-loved dance companies
'performing throughout the UK and overseas.
'My parents still tell me, "I remember when you said,
'"Mum, I'm going to be in Northern Ballet one day".'
I am now and so my dream came true and if you've got a dream, you've got to follow it.
I have a dream, and it's a little cheeky, but it would be good
to be in-house choreographer... and then artistic director.
'I think you should get behind them and Sponsor A Dancer'
so that they can keep on doing this fantastic work.
As the dancers strut their stuff...
MUSIC: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky
..aspiring artistic director Kenny
is showcasing his choreographic debut.
# The heartaches
# The glow of a rose
# And what good am I... #
And when the guests move upstairs for dinner,
it's the chance to get up close and charm the pants off them.
Ladies and gentlemen.
Ladies and gentlemen, could I just have your attention
for one moment, please?
Please welcome the dancers from Northern Ballet.
It's interesting to dance in different spaces.
But, yeah, it's always a shock when you see people right up close!
I need to make another piece or extend this piece,
but because the music ends there, at the moment
I'm thinking I'll bring down the lights,
then the lights will go back up
and there'll be more dancers on stage
and then we'll start with the new piece.
Did you see those dancers enter that dining room?
And did you see how beautiful they were?
I think it worked well.
It's what we've sort of always wanted,
to play a bigger part in those sorts of things
and to connect with the people that, you know,
do make a financial difference to the company.
It was really professionally run.
It was complete chalk and cheese with the London event.
I mean, it was a completely different end of the scale.
Just losing a few dancers, that really, kind of threw us.
-Just that one person.
So any more and I think we really would suffer.
So yeah, difficult to say.
We'll see. Fingers crossed.
For me, the Sponsor A Dancer campaign is very personal
because obviously I'm still not guaranteed a job.
So I really... I said to fundraising if I can do anything else to help,
I'm more than happy to, if it'll help save my job.
-It was an enjoyable evening.
-Thank you for coming.
-Not at all.
-We appreciate your support.
I really enjoyed meeting Jodie and Michelle
and Josh here, of course.
So I think it's a great idea to get the dancers in with everybody.
I think it makes them all part of the same community, really.
Absolutely. It's good, yeah. It went well.
Actually having the opportunity
to bring the dancers back in to the event at the launch
actually showed that it was a very good way of working
and, you know, something we need to pursue going forward.
-Have you had a nice evening? Good.
-Really, really lovely.
And the dancers who came to our table were just...
Oh, good. Well, I think they enjoy it.
I mean, I've just had Kenny on the table with me now,
and they just love the opportunity to just sort of get feedback directly from the audience.
-And, you know, just to chat and...
-Find out what philistines we are!
'Hopefully this is just the start,
'not only for bringing in short-term money to save the dancers,
'but in laying out a new blueprint for future fundraising.'
They could run Sponsor A Dancer for the next hundred years
You know, as their fundraising mantra
and that's a positive thing for them.
Where Buy Back A Dancer, you can't, you know, keep on doing that
for more than a few months or, at best, a year.
Locally, word of the campaign is already spreading.
We're collecting tonight for Sponsor A Dancer for Northern Ballet.
The dance school that first set Josh on the road to Northern Ballet
is holding a week of Zumbathons in support of the campaign.
MUSIC: "The Time (Dirty Bit)" by Black Eyed Peas.
And the local papers have picked up the story too,
much to Josh's parents' delight.
Aw, that's a gorgeous photo.
That's really lovely, ain't it?
"Northern Ballet was my dream company to join one day
"and now I'm in the company, my dream has come true."
-That's really lovely.
-He'll be famous round our little town, won't he?
"Every time they come to a performance,
"my mum says she fills up." SHE LAUGHS
Fills up, cries, has sweaty palms all the way through.
So fingers crossed people'll sponsor it.
People'll get behind all the shows, support it all,
and it'll benefit everybody and make us happy!
In the first month after its launch,
Sponsor A Dancer raises just over £30,000.
But in the studio, the dancers and David
need to focus on perfecting their version of The Nutcracker.
Is it possible, ladies, a little bit more delay in that first pique, yeah?
So stay and stay and then go and go and go and one.
You're there and he flips you.
As a perennial festive favourite,
The Nutcracker relies on creating a sense of spectacle.
But with two dancers less than last year, David's struggling.
We have actually six casts for that, even though we're a small company.
And now I have just re-done the Spanish dance.
This has changed specifically for this year to accommodate the fact
that I don't have the same numbers of women in the company.
It's hard on me cos I have to figure out how the casting works
and then even if I can switch it,
what happens if somebody's injured in that column?
So...it's not fun.
MUSIC: "The Nutcracker March" by Tchaikovsky
The start of the Nutcracker tour
signifies the beginning of the end of the dancers' year.
While it's all smiles on stage,
behind the scenes their minds are on the cuts.
It's really hard for dancers to think about another career,
which we all have to do, cos it's a short career.
But to have to think about it
before you're ready to think about it is really difficult.
I see what you mean, and to make peace with that as well.
Because I always think, knowing that it was nothing to do with you,
-in a sense of your ability and your...
-You've already had a brilliant career
and you've done really well
but essentially they haven't got enough money.
By the way, there's no money to sustain your job. So you're done.
It's really scary.
My job at Northern Ballet is a dream come true.
It's an absolute joy for me
to get up every morning and come in to work.
Yeah, I don't think many people can say that. My parents, especially.
So obviously to have this kind of dark cloud over your head
about you don't know what's going to happen is just awful, you know.
It's not like I really want to dance anywhere else.
This is kind of where I want to dance and where I want to be so...
I just really hope that we don't have to go down that route
of having to lose dancers because being one of the young ones,
I mean, I don't know if my job will be safe or not.
So it's not great but, you know, put a smile on and off you go.
'Christmas is coming.
'As the Nutcracker tour hits Newcastle,
'I'm going to see the company for the last time.
'With Mark's budget deadline imminent,
'the dancers are about to learn their fate.'
A lot of those people have given more than blood,
sweat and tears to that company.
They're also personalities and they're also very committed.
And a company like that, their major reason to be, you know,
is the dancers themselves
and the commitment that the dancers show to the company.
'Before I leave Northern Ballet,
'I want to know if the dancers and David
'feel more involved in recent fundraising efforts.'
How did you feel the big event went?
I think that the event was really good for everyone in the company,
in terms of working together that way.
There was a lot more information.
There was a good presentation and respect
of how the dancers were presented that evening.
And did you feel that it was a good opportunity
for the dancers and for you to be showcased, in that sense?
They are beautiful people and when they dress up,
they're even more beautiful. When they came in for the dinner
they looked like a group of young movie stars
and that always impresses everybody.
They were just, in general,
they're fantastic sells through that whole event.
They couldn't have been better.
There were lots of people that sent in some very sweet letters saying,
"We can't really afford it, but here's £30"
And that sort of, is more meaningful,
even though it doesn't at the end of the day
really pay the bill.
But you know that there's a real sincere backing out there
for the company and for the dancers.
So, going forward, do you think the work that's been done
on connecting the dancers to the fundraising
and the important issues for the company,
do you think that's going to work for you in a better way than it has?
-I think that the communication levels
are definitely higher that they used to be.
You feel more involved in that one specifically as well,
cos it was Sponsor A Dancer.
We'd only ever get the end of messages,
like, "Oh, the company is losing money,"
or this and that, and we never really understood why,
or what was being done about it
and now I think we just feel like we have more information.
Which actually makes you want to help more as well.
-Yeah, you want to be involved.
-Well, I think that's a great thing.
You're the best ambassadors, I think, that the company's got,
and they need to be able to use that.
'It's brilliant the company have pulled together so well this year.
'I hope it's been enough to save the dancers' jobs.
'Before the next rehearsal,
'they're going to hear whether they've pulled it off.'
This is the payoff, I would hope,
for the company having got their act together.
You know, worked really hard to try and get a set of messages out
around Sponsoring A Dancer
and helping in a more major way
with keeping the company together.
The last thing you'd want to have hanging over your head
is the prospect that, at some point in the course of the next year,
you might not be there.
Good morning, everyone.
We've obviously been working on the campaigns
for quite a while now, so we just thought
it'd be a good opportunity to give you an update on where we've got to.
Generally, fundraising has been going well.
In reality, in terms of what that means as far as numbers of dancers,
what I'm looking at for next year
is a scenario where we have definitely 35 dancers.
Now that's obviously a huge improvement from where we were,
when we sort of started talking about this back in April
where we thought we might have to go down to 30 dancers.
But if we don't get back to the full complement,
I'll feel it's a bit of a failure,
so that is what we're going to achieve.
We need to keep working towards that,
and I certainly appreciate the support you've all given
so far towards that, and if we all keep working together,
then hopefully everything will come out as we want it to.
It was really great.
And you could see, not even necessarily relief,
but the happiness with everybody else
and the happiness that it made you feel.
"My friend at the barre, you're still going to be here.
"We'll be here together."
I think Michael became a wonderful middleman.
He became somebody that we could bounce ideas off,
but also he was asking the questions
that perhaps we were too nervous to ask
or didn't feel like it was our place to ask.
He kind of just helped bridge that gap.
All the best, mate.
You know, we needed someone from the outside
just to come in with a really positive attitude
and think, "You know what? We can sort this out.
"It's no problem, we will do our best".
And every time I've seen him he has not said one negative thing.
He's not been negative. He's always been positive
and always has had a smile on his face
and that has, especially for me,
it's really helped me get through this tough time, yeah.
I do think it's a huge achievement that you've all done
and I think, you know, they were all so good.
It's probably been the most challenging year
that I've ever had in the company.
But actually, at the end of the day, it's been the most rewarding.
Everybody has got behind this common need
to raise money to support the dancers.
And I think that's just been a huge way forward for the company.
MUSIC: "Trepak" from the Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky
'I'm hugely impressed by Northern Ballet's achievements.
'In just nine months, they've changed how they work
'as an organisation
'and created their own new model for fundraising
'in the Age of Austerity.'
I think probably the one thing you can extrapolate
from the Northern Ballet experience
is that organisations are going to have to be able to respond
in different ways.
They're going to have to challenge the way they work
because of the impact of the cuts.
Well, I think they've done really tangible, good things.
What looked dire nine months ago now looks a lot more positive
and I think, you know, that deserves full credit.
Next time, I'm off to the country's only operating Regency theatre.
ACTORS: High Toby!
I'm tackling the age-old problem of bums on seats...
They are NOT comfortable.
..and daring new productions.
You need to start stacking the dice a little bit in your favour.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Arts Troubleshooter is a two-part series following the work of world renowned arts expert Michael Lynch at two unique arts organisations whose futures are under threat.
This is the first programme in the series and follows Michael's work with Northern Ballet: the first major English ballet company to be based outside London. The company has just moved into a new state-of-the-art home, but when they receive an unprecedented cut to their government grant in March 2011, they can no longer afford to keep all of their dancers. Michael's determined to help Northern Ballet save the jobs of the dancers who've devoted their careers to the company.
There are few who understand the business of the arts better than Michael Lynch: he was chief executive of London's Southbank Centre from 2002 to 2009, during which time he doubled visitor numbers, raised the cash to refurbish Royal Festival Hall and transformed Southbank Centre into probably the most dynamic arts centre in the world. Prior to that he ran the Sydney Opera House in his native Australia. He is currently chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong: a HK$21.6billion project to transform the city's artistic landscape.