Silicon Valley's resident dance troupe has endured financial storms over the years—piling-up debt, losing its biggest donor and seeing a trickle-down effect from the economic recession. But thanks to an outpouring of community support, the newly rebranded Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley has weathered another squall. For now.
The nonprofit announced in early March that it had to come up with $550,000 within 10 days or close for good. The community responded by giving $640,000 in donations that ranged from a few bucks to checks of more than $100,000.
The city of San Jose pledged $105,000 last month, on top of a recently awarded grant of $206,768, according to a memo on Tuesday's City Council agenda. But in order to secure that money, the City Council will need to sign off on giving $105,000 in hotel taxes—or Transient Occupancy Tax funds—at Tuesday's meeting. The city's Arts Commission had recommended using those funds, but the City Manager's office only has authority to sign off on contracts of up to $250,000.
San Jose's arts community is still reeling from the loss of the San Jose Repertory Theater, which closed under duress of bankruptcy last summer. Seeing the ballet pull through was a huge relief for the city, San Jose Director of Cultural Affairs Kerry Hapner noted last month.
"When confronted with the serious potential of losing this cultural gem, our community stepped in and stepped up," she said. "That’s inspiring."
The ballet made sure the fundraising appeal reached a wide audience, so the nonprofit didn't suddenly close without notice like the Rep.
“We’re grateful to everyone who stepped up and contributed," ballet CEO Allan Hineline said at the close of the emergency campaign mid-March. “We see this as a mandate showing that people in San Jose and Silicon Valley really care about the Ballet—and our ballet school—and want to preserve them for the future."
But there's another important deadline on the horizon. The ballet still has to raise $3.5 million by October to overhaul the dance company's business model and finish its rebranding from Ballet San Jose to Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley—a bid to reach a broader audience and bill itself as more of a regional institution. The reported $300,000-plus from the city will be used as leverage for a bank loan.
With an annual budget of $5.6 million, the ballet employs 32 professional dancers and runs a school of 350 students.
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for April 7, 2015:
- Crime is on the decline at each of San Jose's two cardrooms, Casino M8trix and Bay 101. From July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, Bay 101 saw 243 calls for service from the San Jose Police Department. Of those calls, 12 ended in arrests with two for gambling-related crimes. Casino M8trix had 231 calls for service and 15 arrests. Like Bay 101, two of those arrests were for gambling-related crimes. The vast majority of those police calls were to report suspected counterfeit money, fraud and theft. That's a 22 percent drop in overall calls for service since 2011-12. Every year, the city prepares a crime report on the two casinos to monitor the impact of gambling on city services. But the information collected gives only a limit review, SJPD Chief Larry Esquivel says in his summary. "Whether the activity of gaming has had a direct impact on crime in San Jose would require an in-depth investigation into each and every one of these crimes listed in this report," he writes in this year's report.
- Thanks to the late Martial Cottle, a lifelong farmer who bequeathed his 300-acre property to the public, Santa Clara County will get a new park full of trails, community gardens, farming exhibitions, picnic areas and visitor centers. Cottle wanted to preserve the land to honor the region's agriculture heritage. San Jose will help manage some of the land. On Tuesday, city officials will consider entering into an agreement with the county to manage a 1.5-acre community garden. For more details on Martial Cottle Park, visit the county's planning page here.
- City officials continue to study the option of bringing an outdoor stage to St. James Park. The Levitt Pavilion would be managed by an independent nonprofit and organize 50 live music shows a year, according to the proposal.
- The city completed an analysis of the way it dismantled its largest homeless encampment, known as The Jungle. Though not everyone found stable housing and many people were displaced, the city plans to use this "place-based" approach in dealing with other homeless camps. In all, the city has identified nearly 300 individual sites throughout San Jose. While 175 people from The Jungle were housed and some found jobs, many more were simply kicked down the road. Mayor Sam Liccardo says the city needs to continue to revise its approach, leveraging help from nonprofits.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260