DDP Founder and President Liza Yntema is interviewed by Allison Duncan for Sheridan Road Magazine. Liza discusses effective philanthropy, leadership, and DDP.
18 May 2020
By Mike Scutari
In late April, facing a potential shortfall of as much as $150 million, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced layoffs and executive pay cuts. “While we are not immune from the impact of this pandemic, the Met is a strong and enduring institution and will remain one,” said Daniel Weiss, president and chief executive officer.
Painful cuts aside, Weiss has reason to be optimistic about the museum’s fate. The Met can access a $50 million emergency fund, a $3.6 billion endowment, a board-designated fund of $935 million that does not have donor restrictions, and a Rolodex of patrons who contributed $211.5 million in support in 2019. Many have already risen to the occasion. “Our trustees are clearly stepping up and wanting to make sure that they’re helping the institution. That support is coming immediately, and strongly,” said Met Director Max Hollein.
Add it all up, and Artnet News’ Sarah Cascone’s prediction still holds: “Despite its dire circumstances,” she wrote, the Met “is well positioned to get through the current storm.”
The same can’t be said for smaller museums. The American Alliance of Museums estimates that 30% of museums, mostly in small and rural communities, will not be able to reopen without immediate financial support from the government.
In mid-May, these museums received some good news when Alice Walton’s Art Bridges announced its $5 million Bridge Ahead Initiative to support current and former partner museums, many of which are located in small and mid-sized communities affected by COVID-19.
And so the stage is set. Can billionaires stave off a museum meltdown? Most certainly. But the more salient question is which kinds of museums will billionaires rescue? Wealthy institutions like the Met, or smaller organizations that had to scrounge for funding long before COVID-19 turned the world upside down?
Read the full article, and see DDP Founder Liza Yntema’s take on the PPP loan here.
By Nancy Dobbs Owen
5 May 2020
Dance Data Project® has an amazing new feature on their website to help both established and aspiring choreographers, particularly particularly those who identify as female, navigate the world of fellowships, scholarships and grants.
President & Founder of the Dance Data Project®, Elizabeth (Liza) Yntema says that the study and subsequent addition to the website was “done in response to talking to female choreographers.” Navigating the world of funding is, according to those she interviewed (and in this writer’s opinion, everyone else) “overwhelming.” “Dance Data Project® promotes equity in all aspects of classical ballet by providing a metrics based analysis through our data base while showcasing women led companies, festivals, competitions, venues, special programs and initiatives.” Yntema emphasized the importance of helping these particular artists, especially in this incredibly challenging time, where entire seasons as well as countless festivals and intensives have been canceled. Choreographers, especially those who identify as female, are going to struggle. “You have to look at where the resources are going. Big companies will get bailed out. Smaller companies and individual artists will struggle. Some consideration must be paid to who will go without.” The feature is not limited to female identifying artists, but Yntema emphasizes that these will help them in particular. In addition to the listings, a downloadable report and updates on changing deadlines, a ticker tape now runs at the top of the website to alert visitors to upcoming deadlines. For example, as of this writing, the top of the website flashes deadlines of May 4 for the New York Choreographic Institute Commission Initiative and of May 16 for A&A Ballet: DIVE Award Competition.
The entire feature is meant to be easy to navigate and to return to. The spreadsheet on the site lists name, opportunity type, compensation, due date, and number of recipients, as well as a description of the opportunities and any relevant restrictions. You can also download the entire guide. The website has the most up-to-date information.
Read the full article in LA Dance Chronicle.
By Mike Scutari
7 May 2020
In early May, the Oracle of Omaha saw the future of the airline industry—and it was not good.
Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett told shareholders that he had sold all of the company’s airline stocks, admitting that the coronavirus had changed the business in a “very major way.”
“I don’t know that three, four years from now, people will fly as many passenger miles as they did last year,” he said.
As COVID-19 continues to reshape society, donors are having similar doubts about the long-term sustainability of some nonprofit organizations. With one eye on their hard-hit investment portfolios and the other on a drumbeat of predictions that many nonprofits won’t survive this crisis, they’re scanning their list of recipients, checking in with their guts, and asking themselves, “Am I throwing good money after bad?”
Right now, fundraisers’ livelihoods largely hinge on their ability to prevent donors from reaching this inflection point, at a time when one in five donors say they won’t be giving to charity until the economy is back up and running.
Fortunately, seasoned fundraisers told me that donors don’t jump off a sinking ship—they’re gently pushed. It’s usually due to a series of organizational missteps—poor pre-coronavirus financial stewardship, a lack of candid responsiveness in the face of crisis, panicked pitches—that nudge donors over the edge. Fundraisers won’t be able to sustain every relationship, but their odds increase measurably if the organization embraces transparency, data-driven strategic planning, and a calm and measured tone.
Read the full article in Inside Philanthropy.
By Jen Peters
27 April 2020
An iconic yet tortured female painter. A mistress wrapped up in a witch hunt in an early American colony. A talented cellist whose life ended prematurely after her battle with multiple sclerosis. These women are a far cry from classical ballet’s standard fare of supernatural fairies, sylphs and swans. But some female choreographers are starting to bring stories like theirs to major ballet stages.
Although narrative ballets have existed almost as long as the form itself, those framed through the female gaze have been historically rare. As contemporary choreographer Pam Tanowitz unapologetically commented in a 2016 New York Times article, “There is the famous quote from Balanchine: ‘Ballet is Woman.’ Well, it’s a woman made by a man.”
Today, there is a thrilling, 21st-century wave of story-driven ballets choreographed by women. What are their perspectives, and the stories they choose to tell, adding to ballet’s canon?
Several women continued to push narrative ballets forward in the 20th century, including Bronislava Nijinska and Dame Ninette de Valois, and the boldly American choreographer Agnes de Mille. Through the rise of abstract ballets in the last 60 years, ballet companies filled choreographic gender gaps with iconic modern and contemporary works by Pina Bausch, Trisha Brown, Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp and, more recently, Aszure Barton, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Jessica Lang, Crystal Pite and Pam Tanowitz.
But their contributions, by and large, were not story ballets, and it has only been in recent years that new narrative works have seen a resurgence in popularity—due in no small part to conventional box office wisdom that stories sell tickets.
This goes hand in hand with the push for the appearance of gender equity in commissions. In recent years, ballet companies have publicly committed to filling the need for female choreographers through incubator initiatives and programming. (Also not to be overlooked: More women are directing major companies than ever before.) While there are still fewer women than men commissioned to choreograph narrative ballets, the statistics are shifting as companies reevaluate the voices being offered opportunities.
Put together these two trends—the renewed popularity of narrative works and the need for companies to be seen commissioning more women—and you have the formula for female-choreographed story ballets.
Read the full article on Dance Magazine’s blog.
By Lynn Felder
15 April 2020
Susan Jaffe is that rarest of creatures: a real star with no need for other people to know that.
She arrived at UNC School of the Arts to be dean of the School of Dance in 2012, bringing the full force of her intellect, professional experience and creativity to the task of forging a cohesive department.
Earlier this month, Brian Cole, the interim chancellor, announced that Jaffe would be leaving UNCSA to become artistic director of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She will step down as dance dean on June 1 and begin in Pittsburgh on July 1.
Kelley said that he will miss working with Jaffe.
“But I’m so happy she’s going to be taking on this position,” Kelley said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for her.” Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is in the Top 20 companies in the U.S., ranked by the Dance Data Project, and Jaffe will be among just a handful of female artistic directors in the country.
Read the full article in the Winston-Salem Journal.
DDP Founder and President Liza Yntema is the subject of Episode 34 of kNOwBOX dance’s “Dance Behind the Screen” podcast. Listen as Liza talks DDP, philanthropy, women in dance, social media, and what is holding back the ballet world.
Learn more about kNOwBOX here.
The Dance Edit, Dance Media’s “petit” weekly podcast, featured Dance Data Project®’s latest study, the 2020 Artistic and Executive Leadership Report, on Episode 5 last week. The episode, “Festival Cancellations, Willy Burmann, and Ballet’s Gender Gap,” addresses news of cancellation and delays of summer dance festivals due to COVID-19 and the death of beloved NY master teacher Willy Burmann last week, in addition to DDP’s study.
Check out the podcast in the Apple Podcasts app or online here. Discussion of DDP begins at 11:44 and ends at about 13:38.
In May 2018, the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) announced the launch of its ABT Women’s Movement, a multi-year initiative supporting the creation of new works by female choreographers. Yntema, along with the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, was an initial principal sponsor for this initiative and continues to support its development.
Yntema is also an underwriter of Boston Ballet’s ChoreograpHER, where she serves as lead sponsor, and Pacific Northwest Ballet’s girls choreographic initiative, New Voices. In addition, she has underwritten ballets for Sacramento and Pacific Northwest Ballets, Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Company, and Philadelphia’s BalletX. Along with her husband Mark Ferguson, Yntema supports other arts and youth services organizations, with a focus on the Chicago area.
Her expansive footprint gives her a unique perspective into a dance sector where women are underrepresented and paid less than their male counterparts. “I’m not Melinda Gates,” she told me. “I have much less money. I have to be careful and count every penny. I analyze and see why the industry is like this, and I ask, ‘can it change?’ and ‘can I make a difference?’”
Yntema believes that a key to progress is for donors to push harder for change. If donors decide to make funding contingent on an organization’s commitment to equity across key operational and administrative areas like staffing, production and HR, then philanthropy can close the gap. “These problems can be turned around,” Yntema said. “We can do better.”
Read the full article on Inside Philanthropy.
The Guardian: ‘All men for 150 years’: women take centre stage at Royal New Zealand Ballet
By Charlotte Graham-McLay
31 January 2020
It’s an ethereal art form in which dancers, who are overwhelmingly female, strive for unattainable perfection performing works almost always created by men. But in uncompromising world of ballet, where the work of female choreographers is often relegated to one-off showcases while men take the spotlight, a ballet company in New Zealand is making history with a whole year of performances that put women creators centre stage.
“For 14 years I’d only ever performed works by men,” says Alice Topp, a ballerina and, in 2018, the second woman ever to hold the post of resident choreographer at the Australian Ballet in its almost 60-year history. Now, she perches on a Swiss ball in the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s light, airy rehearsal studios in Wellington, still sweating from the morning class she has just ducked out of, hair loose around her shoulders.
Things have changed in the ballet world – Topp wears sweatpants to class these days, rather than pink leotards, and no longer scrapes her hair back into a tight bun – but not fast enough.
“It’s hard when you have to fight for opportunities,” she says. “I want to see a shift happen, and that’s not going to happen from sitting back and talking about it.”
In 2020, the Royal New Zealand Ballet will become the first classical company in the world to perform an entire year of works choreographed solely by women – including one by Topp – a move that is, shockingly, radical.
Read the full article in the Guardian.
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