Eric Hall and Clare Bassett dance during the launch of Ballet Kelowna's 10th-anniversary season last October. Ballet Kelowna's president announced Friday the dance company will cease operations following its grand finales March 15 and 16 in Kelowna and Summerland, blaming financial troubles.
"Ten years celebrates a significant achievement," Jamie Maw, Ballet Kelowna president, said in a press release on Friday.
"Sustaining a ballet company in a smaller market is an ongoing struggle, one we've willingly embraced knowing how fortunate we are to bring David's extraordinarily high standard of dance to our community, and to many others."
Artistic Director David LeHay, a former principal dancer and ballet m aster with Les Grands Ballet Canadiens, will be retire after the closure.
The company runs with the assistance of grants, fundraising events and government and donor support. But they say that a lack of audiences, sponsorship and funds is prompting the closure.
"And despite one of the hardest working Boards in show business, the continuing downward economic trends are more than we can adjust for," said Maw.
"We currently find ourselves at an opportune juncture to celebrate those 10 years, concurrent with the ability to retire our financial obligations responsibly. Our financial forecasting tells us-six months from now-that will no longer be the case.
During the past decade, Ballet Kelowna and LaHay, have taken their performances to more than 30 smaller communities throughout British Columbia and Alberta.
The Nutcracker has also been a popular event at the Kelowna Community Theatre during the holiday season.
The City of Kelowna has been a major funder of Ballet Kelowna since 2003.
"The departure of this organization from the community's cultural family is a real loss," said Sandra Kochan, cultural services manager for the city.
"On behalf of the city, I extend sincere thanks to the dancers, staff, directors and volunteers who have worked so hard over the last decade to share he beauty and athleticism of ballet with us."
David Bond, who has been a donor to Ballet Kelowna for many years, was disappointed to hear the news on Friday.
"I think that without a doubt, Ballet Kelowna was the best single cultural activity we had in the region. It travelled to a wide range of communities and introduced a professional quality of performances through out the interior.
"To have lost it is really sad. It makes Kelowna, to some degree, a cultural desert."
Bond said it wasn't the lack of volunteers that was the problem, but not getting enough money from the city and the B.C. Arts council.
"The city never increased its grant. And the B.C. Arts council never favoured supporting other professional groups. They did for the Okanagan Symphony, but not for the ballet."
With the financial assistance of the Thomas Alan Budd Foundation and a group of community business people, the company will continue its tour performances in March, with its grand finales in Kelowna and Summerland on March 15 and 16.
Program and ticket information can be found at balletkelowna.ca.