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.”
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