Category Archives: In the News

Behind the Scenes of Gala Giving: Pick Your Poison

By Christi Cuellar Lotz, Director of Development

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” – Hamlet

Ah, Fête season. Any who knows me would not argue for one moment that event fundraising is just that… madness! But what better way to highlight the mission and purpose of an incredible non-profit than to bring folks together who share a passion for the organization, show off what we do, and ask for their support? Truly, the Fête and fête*ish have become Ballet Austin brands in their very own right. But through the glitz and rock-and-roll glamour, there is, indeed, purpose.

fete*ish

A Midsummer Night’s Dream themed fête*ish

A Gala Unlike Any Other

The Fête doesn’t have a structure like other galas. We pride ourselves in telling our story – with one heck of a back-drop. This year, the Hamlet-themed evening provides all kinds of fun and creepy ways to celebrate. And as Stephen Mills says, “Creepy is only ever good.”

There are many ways to give at just about every level possible. My job is to make sure you find one you love.

The fun part for Fête-goers is that their friends can see them do it. I think Michael Barnes once called gala-giving “philanthropy in front of other people.” The “Paddles-Up” portion of the evening, as I call it, happens just after the live auction where folks have hopefully purchased incredible, once-in-a-lifetime packages for killer deals. There is then the opportunity to give outright to some of our community and education programs. Many who come to the Fête don’t realize all that Ballet Austin does, outside of producing first-class professional ballet productions. But wait. There’s more.

Live Auction during 2014 Fete

Live Auction during 2014 Fête

Did You Know?

  • Over $250,000 in scholarships are given to students who want to learn ballet but don’t have the means
  • The Pilates Pink Ribbon program is offered free of charge to nearly 100 breast cancer survivors regardless of means
  • School-based Dance In The Classroom is offered free of charge (leotard and shoes included) to two Title I schools
  • Thousands of tickets to the final dress rehearsal for every major performance are offered free of charge to clients of local social-service non-profits

And I could go on.

Five to six programs are highlighted each Fête and each is introduced by our wonderful auctioneer followed by a 1-minute video about the program. Our goal? To make you cry. And to also help you realize how lucky you are and what a difference you can make. Of course I’m just standing in the corner a nervous wreck hoping someone – anyone – will raise their paddles for the highest level. And someone does… And then often, someone else. And then I love everyone the rest of the night because it just goes downhill (and up in funds raised for Ballet Austin) from there. But that’s just me.

fete

fête*ish Highlights

fête*ish offers another level of giving opportunity – this year’s is called a “Skull Pull” in celebration of the event theme Hamlet. (Again, creepy = fun. Who doesn’t want to pull a skull?) You pay a certain amount for your chance to win a prize worth that amount or more! Instant gratification is the name of the game here, and I’m not gonna lie, it can get addictive. Last year’s “Key Pull” was sold out as fête*ish barely got going.

By the time you read this, we’ll be a few weeks away from what’s been dubbed as “Austin’s Best Black Tie.” Each year, we challenge ourselves to live up to this! The amazing team working on the event (shouts out to Mandarin Design Lab, Ruby Rogers Events, TWIN Liquors, Ilios Lighting, the JW Marriott and many others) makes sure that each year tops the one before. Many of these vendors have been working on Fête/fête*ish for a number of years and their creativity never ceases to amaze me.

So what are some of YOUR favorite memories of past Fête/fête*ish events? I’d love to know!

Press Feature: Art of Nurturing New Choreographers (CultureMap Houston)

Photo by Tony Speilberg

A huge thanks to Nancy Wozny for highlighting our Artistic Director Stephen Mills in CultureMap Houston’s “The art of nurturing new choreographers: It’s not sexy, but it’s the only way to move.” The article quotes Stephen:

“My belief is that art in the 21st century centers around illuminating the world in which we live. Simply linking existing steps together is not rigorous enough to accomplish that task. In selecting choreographers, our team seeks to identify those people who are working to create new movement vocabularies; we look for artists who challenge dance structure as we understand it today.”

Ballet Austin’s New American Talent/Dance competition is Feb 17-19. It’s a great way to catch new works from three of the nation’s best up-and-coming choreographers and help choose the winner yourself.

For the full article, visit CultureMap Houston.

 

Press Feature: Austin Arts Groups Feel Strains of Growth (Austin American-Statesman)

There’s more behind a great performance than well-worn pointe shoes. Arts organizations need what every other organization needs to thrive: money. And that money doesn’t pour in effortlessly. That’s the topic that Austin American-Statesman Arts Critic Jeanne Claire van Ryzin focused on last week in her article “Austin arts groups feel strains of growth.”

Here’s an excerpt from the article referencing Ballet Austin and our Executive Director Cookie Ruiz:

“Both Ballet Austin and Zach Theatre report solid economics with no debts. [Cookie] Ruiz said the ballet’s board began planning for an economic downtown before the 2008 stock market crash and made cuts, while adding a $100,000 contingency surplus into the budget. And the company clearly has something Austin wants to buy: The ballet saw its highest-grossing season, with 42,257 paid attendees and nearly $2 million in ticket sales, this past year.”

Thanks to Jeanne Claire for the mention. For the entire article, visit austin360.com.

2010/11 Austin Critics’ Table Award

Ballet Austin is honored to have received TEN nominations for the Austin Critics’ Table Award, for both company productions and company artists.

Paul Michael Bloodgood, Aara Krumpe, Michelle Martin, Christopher Swaim and Jamie Lynn Witts all received recognition for their performances during the Ballet Austin 2010/11 Season.

Ballet Austin also received nominations for Kai, La Sylphide and Studio Theater Project. To read more about the Austin Critics’ Table Award Nominations and to see the full list of nominees and categories, please click here.

Stephen Mills to introduce Black Swan at Austin Premiere

On Wednesday, October 27, the Austin Film Festival will play host to the Austin premiere of Darren Aronofsky’s ballet-centered thriller, Black Swan. Here’s how the festival describes the film:

“Visionary director Aronofsky, takes a thrilling and at times terrifying journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect.”

Ballet Austin Artistic Director Stephen Mills will introduce the most talked about film of the festival in front of what is sure to be a packed house. There is already Oscar buzz around this film, so it’s certainly a must-see if you can secure yourself a ticket or an Austin Film Festival pass.

You can find more info about the film and the festival on the Austin Film Festival’s site.

Statesman: Designer Carolina Herrera donates $10,000 gown to Ballet Austin’s Fête10 auction

Austin American-Statesman – The Goods
By Marques Harper | Sunday, August 29, 2010, 08:52 PM

We can report this, fashionistas: Here’s a black and silver embroidered lace strapless evening gown from the pre-fall 2010 collection from designer Carolina Herrera.

And guess what? The gown, which is valued at $10,000, can be yours.

The gown will be part of the auction at the Austin Ballet’s Fete10 presented by the W Hotel on Sept. 10, the same day as the national Fashion’s Night Out.

Read More…

The Red Shoes at Alamo Drafthouse

The Red Shoes is one of Martin Scorsese’s favorite films, and the legendary director recently sponsored a full restoration of this Oscar-winning cinema classic. We’ve teamed up with the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for a special screening—the first public showing of the restored film—at the Alamo South Lamar this Thursday, August 5 at 7 pm. The event is complete with a four-course themed meal with wine pairings presented by Executive chef Trish Eichelberger and an after-party at the always entertaining Highball. And best of all, all proceeds benefit Ballet Austin!

Tickets are $75. Click here to purchase and for more info.