Wednesday, October 13, 1999

3 million-dollar gifts lift ballet campaign

Fund drive to kick off today

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Three gifts of at least $1 million are sending Cincinnati Ballet dancing toward its destiny.

        The company will announce its 21st Century Campaign later today and a new satellite school in Blue Ash. The campaign has already raised $3.9 million of its $7 million goal.

        The School of Cincinnati Ballet is now the Otto M. Budig Academy of Cincinnati Ballet, thanks to a $1.5 million gift from the local businessman. Additional gifts of $1 million were given by longtime arts patrons James M. Ewell and the Kaplan Foundation of Dr. Stanley and Mickey Kaplan.

        The campaign will earmark $2.5 million for capital improvements and $4.5 million for the ballet's endowment. Lack of endowment has always been “a major weakness” for the 39-year-old ballet, ballet executive director John Zurick said.

        The successful completion of what's expected to be an 18- to 24-month campaign will assure live orchestra accompaniment for performances, expansion of educational and outreach programs and the growth of the school.

        In ballet, artistic excellence is defined in part by the existence of a ballet school.

        The school's current enroll ment is less than 200, the capacity for the ballet headquarters. With the Blue Ash studio opening in January and plans for a Northern Kentucky satellite studio “within two years,” Mr. Zurick said, “we think 1,000 students is achievable.”

        The Neyer Family Foundation is responsible for offering a five-year renewable lease for the 6,400-square-foot former warehouse at 11444 Deerfield Road. Mr. Zurich puts the value “in the low six figures.”

        Converting the warehouse to studios will cost about $200,000. Also planned is a 15,000-square-foot expansion of the Central Parkway headquarters. The project is expected to begin in September and take a year.


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