A Gateway into Dance… And So Much More!
By Kelly Medinger
Ballet Theatre of Maryland uses arts and humanities grant to build fundraising capacity
As the only professional ballet company in the state, Ballet Theatre of Maryland is a natural gateway into the world of dance for people of all ages. Each year the Ballet Theatre reaches more than 23,000 people through performances, contemporary and classical dance training, and outreach in schools.
“We are a small organization doing as much as some large organizations,” shares Dianna Cuatto, Artistic Director. “Our success comes from our incredible team of people and the energy that they bring to our work – the dancers, board members, students, parents, and administrative staff,” she adds. It is not uncommon, for example, to find a dancer building and painting sets for an upcoming production.
Reaching Out to Donors
With support from the Knott Foundation, Ballet Theatre of Maryland hired a full-time Development Officer charged with structuring the organization’s fundraising efforts. During the grant period, the Development Officer raised approximately $60,000 in new and increased gifts by identifying new donors, initiating a scholarship program, increasing gifts to the annual fundraising appeal, and nearly doubling the profits from the annual gala.
“Her work allowed me to focus my time on new and exciting initiatives, such as our Point of Entry program,” explains Cuatto. The Point of Entry program invites people into the studio for an intimate experience with the ballet. They spend an hour meeting the dancers, mingling with board members, learning about the vision of the organization, hearing testimonials about educational outreach activities, and watching a live performance. Each attendee then leaves with two complimentary tickets to a future performance and a pledge card to commit their time, talent, or treasure to the organization.
Reaching Out to Schools
Meanwhile, Ballet Theatre doubled the number of school children reached through their educational outreach last academic year. This year they received grant support to implement a program for preschoolers, teaching the young children about creative movement and helping their teachers better integrate arts education into the preschool curriculum.
In the end, it is clear that the Ballet Theatre serves not only as a gateway into the world of dance, but into many different fields, such as art, literature and history. After seeing a piece focusing on Maryland history performed by the Ballet Theatre for the bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812, one child announced, “I really liked Dolley Madison… Can I be her?” Indeed, the Ballet Theatre became an avenue for this child to experience Maryland’s rich history through the world of dance.