New gifts strengthen the Milwaukee Ballet

The Ballet’s new leadership team is making an impact with more than $625,000 raised to eliminate debt while supporting  new strategic priorities

MILWAUKEE – January 31, 2008 – The Milwaukee Ballet today announced that business planning and fundraising efforts over the first 100 days with a new leadership team in place have resulted in new investments, outside its annual operating targets, totaling more than $625,000.

Leading the major contributions were the Dohmen Family Foundation with a gift of $375,000 and the Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation with a gift of $100,000.  Additional donors gave more than $150,000 during that same period toward future artistic initiatives.

The Dohmen Family Foundation gift will be used to eliminate the Ballet’s debt, which has grown over the past few years to approximately $375,000.  A relatively new contributor to the Milwaukee Ballet, the foundation is excited about working with the Ballet’s leadership team to strengthen this artistic and community treasure.

“Over the years, the Milwaukee Ballet has been, and continues to be, supported by passionate and visionary community leaders and we’re very grateful to all of them,” said Bob Dohmen.  “Now it’s our turn to join them.  We hope our gift inspires others to support the Milwaukee Ballet as they embark on an exciting new era that will enhance this precious community asset.”

Indeed the intent of the gift is yielding results.  “We are extremely grateful to the Dohmen Family Foundation.  Their generosity will allow the Ballet to move forward unencumbered with our strategic priorities,” said Dennis Buehler, Milwaukee Ballet Executive Director.

The Ballet’s recent reorganization of its operations included opening a new business office led by Sam Bahr. Bahr, previously the longtime Controller for Carroll College and a former dancer, continues to strengthen the Ballet’s capacity.  New business planning initiatives that focus on supporting the artistic and the Milwaukee Ballet School team’s long-term vision have already led toward more than $150,000 in new gifts.

“The soul of any Ballet company is its ability to create work that challenges its dancers and inspires audiences,” said Artistic Director Michael Pink.  “The ability for us to not only dream, but properly plan and support accessible and innovative new work is critical to our future success.”

As the Ballet embarks on a new strategic marketing plan, The Herzfeld Foundation grant will be utilized to upgrade its Web site, e-commerce and ticketing functions while developing new resources and flexibility for Milwaukee Ballet School families, all of which provide a more seamless experience for patrons.  These new tools will allow the Ballet to better satisfy and maintain relationships with its loyal patron base while reaching out to build relationships with new patrons.

“We are very excited to support the new strategic initiatives being undertaken by the Milwaukee Ballet.  The steps we take today will ensure a strong, vibrant future for Ballet enthusiasts for years to come” said Carmen Haberman, Vice President of the Herzfeld Foundation.

In 2007, the Ballet set in motion a plan that gave the organization new strategic priorities to help guide it into the future.  Over the last several years, it became clear that the Ballet was facing a new set of challenges and opportunities.  One of those challenges was shifting ticket patron buying patterns.

“We realize that the needs of audiences and school families, along with their purchasing patterns, are changing.  That means it was essential for the Ballet to change if we were going to accomplish our goals,” said Buehler.

“Our organization has a rich, cultural vision and pioneering spirit,” continued Buehler.  “Those attributes will continue to guide us as we make the changes necessary to become more efficient, strengthen our endowment and improve the reach of our school while creating the nationally acclaimed, innovative and timeless productions our audience loves.”

About the Milwaukee Ballet

Founded in 1970, the Milwaukee Ballet strives to inspire its audiences to think within and beyond traditional ballet through the presentation of quality performances and the implementation of educational opportunities.  The Milwaukee Ballet and the Milwaukee Ballet School are recognized among the top companies in the nation.  With an annual operating budget of more than $5 million, the Milwaukee Ballet presents more than 40 performances to more than 50,000 people each year.  Its resident company includes 25 professional dancers along with 17 trainees in its Milwaukee Ballet II program and is one of the few dance companies in the country to maintain its own symphony orchestra.  The Milwaukee Ballet School, the official school of the Ballet, has an enrollment of nearly 900 students at four locations throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.

The Milwaukee Ballet’s next performance is A Midsummer Night’s Dream February 21–24.  This magical production features an entertaining mix of adventures and misadventures, mortals and fairies, love and mischief.  Tickets are still available for this family-friendly production at www.milwaukeeballet.org.