Mayor Walter Gray is encouraged about Ballet Kelowna's future after he and wife Doreen attended what was supposed to be the company's final performance at Kelowna Community Theatre on Friday.
Addressing city councillors on Monday, Gray said if the show wasn't sold out, there were only single tickets left. At $30 a ticket, he roughly estimated the show grossed $25,000, a sharp contrast to "extremely low" support in Kelowna in the past.
"Hopefully, that has changed. It was rather encouraging to see the public finally sort of say: 'If this is worth saving, we'd better go and prove it.' So they filled all the seats in the theatre," said Gray.
"So if they can get that kind of support from the community, particularly their home community, then I would predict that they will survive hopefully for the next 10 years. That's good news. I think most of us came away believing the support is there and that ballet will go on in the future. Of course, the jury's not out yet. They certainly got the message. We're very hopeful they will be back again in the fall."
The last time Gray addressed council about Ballet Kelowna, he said it was "tragic" the troupe would be forced to fold.
Ballet Kelowna is now on the road touring smaller communities, such as Golden and Revelstoke, through the end of April as Kelowna's ambassadors, he noted.
The mayor said he asked specifically whether such road trips pay a lot of the bills.
"It carries itself," he was told. "It can't really say at this point that they're making a profit by going on the road, but it's important to keep the dancers engaged. They can't just dance one or two performances in Kelowna and hang it up for the year. But it does, I believe, send the message in a subtle way - if not so subtle - that Kelowna is very aware and supportive of the arts."
What resonates in Gray's mind is the annual report by the Okanagan Symphony last week that 40 per cent of its $1-million budget comes from ticket sales. "If you can get that kind of support at the box office and do fundraisers and get grants ... that's the magical mix," he concluded.