Ballet receives $1 million gift to advance strategic vision

Lead commitment from the Dohmen Family Foundation is one of the largest gifts in its storied 40-year history

Milwaukee, Wis. – October 1, 2009 – At today’s annual meeting, Milwaukee Ballet’s executive leadership team announced that Milwaukee Ballet, celebrating its 40th season, has received a one million dollar commitment from the Dohmen Family Foundation. The gift, only the Ballet’s second of such scale, will be used to advance objectives within a new strategic plan that includes a needs assessment aimed at identifying and pursuing a new collaborative organizational model. The only other gift of this magnitude was a one million dollar donation by Jack and Joan Stein in 1998 to build a completely new Nutcracker production.

The Dohmen gift gives a boost to a key element in the Ballet’s five-year strategic plan, which is expected to be approved by Milwaukee Ballet’s board of directors later this fall. The plan calls for Milwaukee Ballet to become a major contributor to the Greater Milwaukee community with a national model for dance companies. Its commitment to balancing a diverse and unique artistic repertoire, education, accessibility and fiscally sound discipline will define the organization as a destination company for artistic talent, students and audiences alike.

The plan calls for a renewed commitment to leadership development, strengthening the Ballet’s diverse revenue streams and establishing capital reserves, while creating a facilities plan that meets both the Company’s current and future needs. The Ballet has identified that the establishment of a collaborative operating model is the foundation to this plan, making better use of limited resources through shared spaces and services, without detracting from its artistic identity. The Dohmen contribution will allow the Ballet the opportunity to explore this model without tapping into daily operating budgets.

“The Dohmen family’s commitment will provide much needed resources to pursue the dream of creating a sustainable business model that will safeguard our mission of supporting artistic excellence and education in our community for years to come,” said Dennis Buehler, the Ballet’s executive director.

“The philanthropic landscape is changing rapidly. Donors want to make sure that the groups they are supporting work as efficiently as possible without detracting from core mission. A collaborative model addresses these needs and makes sense on so many levels,” Buehler added.

At the meeting, Milwaukee Ballet also announced additional positive steps taken this year that continued to move the Ballet towards its goals. After a lengthy application and review process, Milwaukee Ballet School received full accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Dance, making it the only dance school in the Midwest and the thirteenth in the nation associated with a professional company with this honor. The Ballet’s education department served more than 32,000 people through its outreach programs, a 15% increase over last season. Through the continued implementation of a dedicated strategic marketing plan, the Ballet saw a 6% increase in total subscriptions, reversing a slow ten year decline. Of special note, subscriptions continue to gain momentum heading into the 2009-10 season, up 10% over this same period last year, already capturing 700 new subscribers. Sponsorship funding of Ballet performances, education and financial aid programs also rose 20% over the previous year.

“Many performing arts groups continue to struggle during this difficult economic time and Milwaukee Ballet is certainly not immune. It is truly a testament to our community that Greater Milwaukee continues to support the Ballet by buying tickets, supporting their children in our School, making contributions and through volunteer efforts,” said Buehler.

Finally, the meeting included a recap of the Ballet’s financial position. The organization ended the 2008-09 season with a balanced operating budget and an unaudited pre-depreciation year-end result of $5,193. The Ballet strengthened its balance sheet with an increase in overall assets by $902,000 following the previous season which saw a $1.4 million increase. Total revenue was $6,557,363.


Additional Announcements
Milwaukee Ballet’s Board elected the following officers: Emmett Wright (Northwestern Mutual), President; Mary Leahy (Journal Communications), Immediate Past President and Secretary; and Keith Kolb (Robert W. Baird), Treasurer. Peter Gunnlaugsson (Metavante), Sarah Thomas Pagels (Whyte Hirschboek Dudek), and Shontra Powell (Johnson Controls) were newly elected to the Board. Directors re-elected include Linda Benfield (Foley and Lardner) and Nancy Einhorn (Einhorn and Associates).

Additional awards presented include: Leadership Award, Dorinda Floyd; Grand Jeté Award, the Dohmen Family Foundation and Mary Dohmen; Pas de Deux Award, Michael Best & Friedrich; Daniel Forlano Award of Note, Kathleen Crocker; Volunteer of the Year Award: Jennifer Mazza; School Employee of the Year, Kelly Knoke; and Employee of the Year, Chris Allen.


About Milwaukee Ballet
Founded in 1970, 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. Milwaukee Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet School are recognized among the top companies in the nation. Milwaukee Ballet School is the only professional dance school in the Midwest accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance. With an annual operating budget of more than $5 million, Milwaukee Ballet presents more than 40 performances to more than 50,000 people each year. Its resident company includes 25 professional dancers along with 18 trainees in its Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II program and is one of the few dance companies in the country to maintain its own symphony orchestra. Milwaukee Ballet School, the official school of the Ballet, has an enrollment of nearly 900 students at three locations throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.