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Raising The Barre: NZ’s Growing Ballet Audience

9 June 2004

The barre’s been raised: Kiwi audiences are an increasingly cultured lot, with a huge jump in ballet attendance reported by the Royal New Zealand Ballet in its 2003 annual report.

The company reported a 38% increase in audience numbers from the previous year. General Manager Sue Paterson attributes the success to the professionalism and excellence of the company: “The Royal New Zealand Ballet consistently delivers the goods. We stage works of high artistic merit and we keep our audiences happy while we’re at it.”

It presented three main productions in 2003: New Zealand Post Tutus on Tour, The Meridian Energy Season of Romeo and Juliet and The Lotto Season of Peter Pan. The company also starred in The Montana World of WearableArt Awards. In total there were:

-131 performances (2002: 81) in 51 centres;
-126,000 attendees at performances (2002: 91,000);
-7,000 attendees at 75 educational activities (2002: 2,400 / 54);
-91,000 attendees at five exhibitions on the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s turnover in 2003 was $7.3m, of that government funding accounted for 38%; sponsorship, 16%; and box office takings, 42%. It posted an operating surplus of $400,000, and carries $1.2m as reserves into 2004.

“We have always aimed to get a million-dollar reserve to ensure the company's longterm stability; it has taken us 50 years but we’ve finally got there,” she says.

“2003 saw the company step up its educational activities, thanks to $450,000 of additional annual government funding. The money was also used to increase dancers’ wages for the first time in six years.”

The Ballet has turned around its fortunes since the financial crises of the 1990s. Subscriptions have tripled in the three years since 2000; and the company has gathered a loyal family of supporters and sponsors around it, including the likes of Meridian Energy, TOWER and New Zealand Post.

“We also invested some of our cash reserves into our recent tour of the UK. Its success put the Royal New Zealand Ballet on the world stage and has attracted dancers of international calibre into the company,” says Paterson.

Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Judith Tizard says: ”I congratulate the Royal New Zealand Ballet on its huge audience increase, which it richly deserves. The Ballet is a world class act. I also commend the ballet for its excellent financial performance.”


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