Milwaukee Ballet, UWM Peck School of the Arts and The Medical College of Wisconsin Announce Harmony Initiative

Contact: Ashley Franks
414-443-0850 x17
afranks [at] buzzmonkeyspr [dot] com

Milwaukee, Wis. – September 29, 2010 – At yesterday’s annual meeting, Milwaukee Ballet endorsed the establishment of The Harmony Initiative, a new vision for Milwaukee’s performing arts and education community, the germination of which came from the Ballet’s strategic effort to create a defining and collaborative business approach. The Harmony Initiative will help establish a nationally recognized destination for Milwaukee’s fine arts and higher educational institutions. As a result of the changing economic environment, this initiative satisfies a critical need to develop a unique business model that better addresses funders’ and audiences’ needs, while allowing the city to utilize its creative community as a force for civic engagement and economic development.

The Ballet announced through the initiative that it has come to a partnership agreement, by way of memorandums of understanding, with Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts.

The Medical College intends to develop a full sports medicine clinic within the space that will serve as the new home for Milwaukee Ballet and its School. The clinic will provide downtown public access to world-class sports medicine and wellness programs while greatly enhancing the in-kind resource it provides dancers in training, treatment, rehabilitation and field research. UWM’s Peck School of the Arts will amplify its partnership with the Ballet by providing students a state-of-the-art space to stage public dance programs, heightening its accessibility and visibility within the dynamic arts district in downtown Milwaukee.

“The Ballet is incredibly excited to partner with the region’s best minds to consider how we can more effectively support our missions and deepen our impact throughout the community,” said Dennis Buehler, the Ballet’s executive director. “We are extremely appreciative for the support of so many people who continue to encourage us to think well outside the bounds of traditional solutions.”

“Launching this partnership with the Ballet and Medical College is a top priority for the Peck School and I am delighted that we are moving ahead,” said Wade Hobgood, Dean of the Peck School of the Arts. “Not only will it provide a crucial solution to space limitations that we all face, but just as importantly, it will raise the profile of UWM's high caliber artistic and creative talents.”

The partners are also pleased to announce a $1 million commitment from the Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation to support the objectives behind The Harmony Initiative, mirroring a commitment made by the Dohmen Family Foundation in 2009. The Herzfeld gift, payable over the next five years, allows the partnership to take critical next steps that establishes a project cabinet, considers additional creative partners, and identifies a studio site, while also pursuing an architect of record.

“The Herzfeld Foundation enthusiastically supports this catalytic project at a critical time because it enhances the vitality of Milwaukee’s artistic center and brings together, in a wonderful collaboration, the creative energies of the Ballet, its School, the Medical College and UWM’s Peck School of the Arts all to the benefit of its participants, and the economic and cultural benefit of our community,” said Bill Haberman, the Foundation’s President.

Leaders from the Ballet, Medical College and UWM continue to meet with City of Milwaukee officials, arts and business leaders to identify the ideal location for such collaborative studio space. All parties involved have agreed to target the city’s downtown arts district and Water Street corridor, which will bring a tremendous opportunity to meet each partner’s objectives with a highly accessible and visible location, and serve as a major downtown catalyst in the City’s re-development plans.

The new space constructed through The Harmony Initiative will also incorporate an innovative arts and wellness extension, opening its doors to the public by offering various classes and programs.

Other News and Announcements
At the meeting, Milwaukee Ballet also announced additional positive steps taken this year. The Ballet celebrated its 40th season, which was highlighted by a sold-out run of Artistic Director Michael Pink’s world premiere of Peter Pan. The production contributed to a 15.5% increase in total ticket revenue, which topped $1.6 million. Milwaukee Ballet School continued its strong work registering more than 1,200 students while providing nearly $100,000 in financial aid. Its education department reached more than 26,000 people in the community, including more than 21,000 students.

Finally, the meeting included a recap of the Ballet’s financial position, which ended the 2009-10 season with a balanced operating budget and an unaudited pre-depreciation year-end result of $479,000, not including $419,000 of depreciated expense associated with its development of a new Cinderella and Peter Pan. Total revenue was $5,901,025 with expenses falling by 8%, or more than $300,000, to reflect anticipated reductions in contributed funding due to the economic downturn.

Milwaukee Ballet’s Board re-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. Directors at large re-elected to the board include Donna Baumgartner, Sarah Kimball Wright, Katie Heil, Jane Bell, Emmett Wright, Kathy Crocker and Nita Soref.

Additional awards presented include: Leadership Award, Katie Heil; Grand Jeté Award, United Performing Arts Fund; Pas de Deux Award, GS Design; Daniel Forlano Award of Note, Ann Heil, along with Sue and Allan “Bud” Selig; Volunteer of the Year Award: In memory of Jenny Chataigne; School Employee of the Year, Mireille Favarel; and Employee of the Year, Andrew Nielsen.

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 16 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 more than 1,000 students at three locations throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.

About the UWM Peck School of the Arts and Department of Dance
The Peck School is Wisconsin's only comprehensive school of the arts. It is comprised of dance, film, music, theatre, and art and design departments, several inter-arts programs, and is home to nearly 80 full-time faculty, 100 part-time teaching staff and more than 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in the arts or arts education. Students, faculty, and guest artists present more than 350 public events each year, making the Peck School one of the most prolific arts presenters in the state.

In its 46th year, the highly regarded Department of Dance is committed to skillful performance, creative artistic individuality, and dynamic teacher training. Led by a distinguished and versatile faculty with ongoing partnerships within the cultural community of Milwaukee, this training program has consistently produced dancers and choreographers and teachers who are making impressive contributions to our profession locally and nationally. In addition to being recognized for its achievements by DANCE USA and the American College Dance Festival Association, for each of the past six years, the Department has received a prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to host nationally acclaimed choreographers, including Garth Fagan (2009-10), Mark Morris (2010-11), and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (2011-12). New initiatives from this innovative program include performances in New York for the Nikolais Centennial in April 2011, a new minor in Somatics, and new BFA in Performance and Choreography with an emphasis on movement styles from Africa and the Diaspora.

About The Medical College of Wisconsin
Founded in 1893, The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee has a four-fold mission: education, discovery, patient care and public and community health. The Medical College is Wisconsin’s only private medical and health sciences graduate school providing education and training to more than 1,200 students. As the largest private non-profit research institution in the state, the Medical College conducts over $145 million annually in research. The Medical College has an operating budget of more than $850 million and has 5,000 employees, including 1,450 faculty members. The College’s 1,200 physicians care for more than 390,000 patients annually, representing 1.6 million patient visits.