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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bad publicity contiunes to damage Colorado Ballet

It would appear that the remaining administration at the Colorado Ballet are still struggling to control what it said about the company in Denver’s newsprint. I won’t begin to rant and rave at how long it’s taken them to get any kind of positive publicity commitment from the Denver Post because I know the firing of Martin Fredmann came as a surprise to everyone (Except that it didn’t. Members of the board had been planning it as early as May).

On Monday Denver Post Fine Arts Critic Kyle MacMillan wrote on the progress the company has made recently, Struggling Colorado Ballet Strides Forward. He began with…

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Jim Copenhaver knows as well as anyone what it's like to head an arts organization in a time of trouble. He served as the first executive director of the fledgling Colorado Symphony as it struggled for credibility and audience acceptance amid a maelstrom of ill feelings following the Denver Symphony's 1989 collapse...

...Like many people in Colorado's arts community, he believes the Colorado Ballet has a tough challenge ahead as it tries to a climb out of a financial hole and regain the splintered trust of contributors and audiences.

Now I am not an advocate of news papers that simply cheerlead for their local ballet companies, but really if you are going to title an article "Struggling Colorado Ballet Strides Forward" I would think you'd want to begin with some positive commentary. And MacMillan could have explain who Jim Copenhaver is? I am surprised MacMillan would ask a private citizen with credentials nearly 20 years old and evidently no current connection to the company for commentary on the situation.

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Evidently the Colrado Ballet hasn’t offered the Denver Post as many complimentary tickets as they'd like. MacMillan notes that, "Perhaps even more damaging has been a steady stream of negative publicity." He then continues to use much of the rest of the article to state all the negative publicity that has been publicized in the last year. As if anyone has forgotten.

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Buried in the article MacMillan includes two paragraphs that create a glimmer of hope for the company...
  • ...Ballet officials paint an upbeat picture of the future. They note that ticket sales for "The Nutcracker" are running 21 percent ahead of last year at this time. They point to the continued support of corporations, foundations and other donors and the recent addition of nine new board members.

  • "Everything is going very positively with a caveat: We still have a hill to climb up to get out of the hole," said board co-chairman James Ruh. "I would guess by spring, when we do 'Cinderella,' there's going to be enough positive that what happened last April and last month is not going to be at the forefront of people's minds."

  • And even these numbers are a joke. Colorado Ballet had one of its worst years for turnout during last years run of the Nutcracker. Due, I'd say, almost entirely to the Radio City Rockettes competing production. If you'd like to know how their ticket sales are really doing this year we'll need to compare the numbers to those of 2003's Nutcracker.

    In all honesty, I don’t understand how Kyle MacMillan could have entitled this article "Struggling Colorado Ballet Strides Forward". There wasn't a genuinely good thing said about the current or future state of the Colorado Ballet. James Ruh might be right about cultivating a positive image by spring, but the first thing he is going to need to do is shut up Kyle MacMillan at the Denver Post.

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