Reports of Ballet Kelowna's death may have been greatly exaggerated. However, it is on life support.
During a two-hour, standing-room-only special meeting at Black Box Theatre Wednesday, it was out with the old and in with the new. Nine of the 12 members of the society's board of directors resigned. The three who stayed - past-president Birgit Bennett, treasurer Ingrid Hansel and Aaron Dow - will remain in place as transition
directors to keep the Ballet Kelowna Society functional according to its bylaws and provincial Societies Act.
Three new volunteers with extensive experience in dance and business stepped forward as potential board members - to be appointed by the three current directors and serve until the next AGM to be held after the fiscal year-end of June 30.
They are: Deborah Ward, owner of Pacific Interior Pilates, a Scottish dance instructor/examiner and a Ballet Kelowna donor; Joan Wilson, the company's volunteer tour co-ordinator since 2010; and Carley Bailey, co-director of the Canadian School of Ballet and artistic director of her own performance company, Company B.
President Jamie Maw, who announced on Feb. 1 the end of the company's operations due to a financial crisis, explained Thursday the company's operations will be temporarily suspended while the new directors "analyze the whole scenario and take the society onto a different track," perhaps more volunteer-sustained, smaller in scope and with a contemporary dance card.
"Obviously, everybody's extremely disappointed that we couldn't keep the overheated engine running longer, but ultimately we've had 10 amazing years, left a terrific legacy and left bit of money in the coffers for a successor group. We've done the prudent and responsible thing and paid our bills, our dancers and our staff. We wish the new directors every success."
Meaghan Williams, the company's executive director, agreed the new board would evaluate "if Ballet Kelowna could go forward and what that would look like." Members also suggested setting up a trust fund for donations, she noted.
Tonight's last performance at Kelowna Community Theatre was very close to sold out as of Thursday - "an enormous endorsement from the community," said Williams. "With that kind of passion and dedication on behalf of patrons, volunteers and donors, the society has to look at the option of going forward."
"At this point, we've given all we can," said Bennett, a director for the past five years, three as president. "Now, it's up to some new energy to revitalize and refresh and try to achieve their vision, whatever that might be. Definitely, the model in its current form proved not sustainable. It was a decision based on financial projections," she said.
"Sometimes, it takes a tough turn of events to make people realize what they had, what they would like and what they took for granted. There is no question it is sad, heart-breaking, especially when lives are affected.
"With 100 people at the meeting," it shows they care, but the tale will be told whether there's money behind the caring because that's what it takes."
In its current form, the society would need an immediate injection of $200,00 on top of its annual $650,000 budget to stay operating at its current level, she said.
Alison Moore, one of those trying to resurrect the company, said in her opinion: "It would be fair to say there was a failure in leadership by the board."
David LaHay founded and directed the company "totally through his heart-felt passion for the dance and for his dancers which is evident in every performance," she explained.
"This company moves people to tears. It's unbelievable. You have this heart driving this artistic vision and it pulls people along, people like me, like the current staff and the volunteers. And then you have the head, you have the board. Their head wasn't listening to the heart. Their role is to hold onto the vision and they lost their way."