News

2016-17 AGM: The National Ballet of Canada Posts Surplus for Eighth Consecutive Season

October 26, 2017

Karen Kain, Artistic Director and Barry Hughson, Executive Director of The National Ballet of Canada, today announced that the 2016/17 Season was a resounding success, both financially and artistically. The season resulted in the largest grossing box office in the company’s history and an operating surplus for the eighth consecutive year. The Annual General Meeting was held today at 6:30 pm at The Walter Carsen Centre for The National Ballet of Canada in Toronto.

David Binet, who is today completing his term as Board Chair of The National Ballet of Canada after six seasons, reported that company revenues were $35,511,000 with expenses at $35,292,000 resulting in an operating surplus of $219,000.

The power and prosperity of The National Ballet of Canada under Karen Kain shone brightly in 2016/17, with compelling performances at home and on tour, a strong box office, heightened donor engagement and an education programme with extended reach from coast to coast,” said Mr. Binet.

The National Ballet’s 2016/17 season was an extraordinary year for the company, resulting in the highest grossing box office to date and exceptional support from our donor community. In its 65th anniversary season, the company delivered an operating surplus for the eighth consecutive year through thrilling performances, expanding audiences, engaging in creative, unique partnerships and galvanizing donors” said Mr. Hughson. “I would like to thank David Binet for his continued support and leadership as our outgoing Board Chair, we are deeply grateful for his outstanding service to the National Ballet.”

The 2016/17 season marked the 65th anniversary of the National Ballet and the public launch of Soaring: The Campaign for The National Ballet of Canada, that will ensure the company’s financial stability and artistic excellence into the future. With a campaign goal of $100 million, $85 million has been raised to date.

The season saw the 20th anniversary of The Walter Carsen Centre, home of the National Ballet’s rehearsal studios, administrative offices and wardrobe facilities, as well as Canada’s sesquicentennial. To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, the National Ballet created 150 Pointes of Canada and 181 pointe shoes were photographed across the country by organizations, community groups, schools and individuals at Canada’s most recognizable landmarks.

The National Ballet presented 2,574 performances and outreach events in the 2016/17 season with a total attendance of 1,373,891. There were 80 performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts with 154,277 in attendance. In collaboration with The Art Gallery of Ontario, Choreographic Associate Robert Binet’s immersive work The Dreamers Ever Leave You had 3 onsite performances. The company held 2,480 community events reaching 1,198,411 young people and their families. On tour the company performed at Lincoln Center Festival at the David H. Koch Theater in New York City and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa for 20,061 audience members.

YOU dance, the company’s signature youth outreach and education programme, marked its 10th anniversary, providing workshops and performances to 7,750 students in the Greater Toronto Area. For the second time, the company had a residency in Regent Park with 5 performances and 45 workshops involving the community. A performance of YOU dance was live streamed reaching 16,000 viewers in Canada, including all provinces as well as the Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories. In addition to introducing the world of dance to young people, YOU dance gives Apprentices invaluable performance training. Currently, the National Ballet employs 25 dancers who began their careers as RBC Apprentices, making up 37% of the company. The National Ballet’s Dance About in school programme began going into schools 50 years ago and has reached over 240,000 students and teachers. It is an opportunity for children from various socio-economic backgrounds and cultures to experience classical ballet in their own environment, making the art form more accessible to them.

For the past 30 years, Share the Magic has provided youth and families affected by illness, poverty and other socio-economic challenges free access to live ballet. Last season, Share the Magic brought the joy of dance to 3,200 audience members at no cost.

In Studio, the National Ballet’s dance and fitness programme for adults and teens, provided 1,912 classes for 22,706 participants.

For the first-time ever, the National Ballet partnered with the Toronto Transit Commission on the award-winning campaign, We Move You, exposing TTC riders to the beauty and art of ballet on their daily commute through a collection of images and video featuring dancers from the company.

World Ballet Day returned for the third year on October 4, 2016 with a 20-hour continuous livestream for the first-time ever on Facebook LIVE becoming the longest broadcast ever to be shown on the platform. The National Ballet joined forces once again with The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet and San Francisco Ballet to give viewers behind-the-scenes access into the world of ballet. The live broadcast attracted a total of 727,151 viewers worldwide.

The past year was an exciting and fulfilling one for the company, both at an artistic and institutional level. We premiered three remarkable works – Will Tuckett’s Pinocchio, Wayne McGregor’s Genus and John Neumeier’s A Streetcar Named Desire – and set a new record for box office revenue,” said Ms. Kain. “I can never thank enough the wonderful people who work in this building and in the theatre – the dancers, musicians, artistic staff, production staff, administrative staff, volunteers and board members. They made last year the success that it was. I also can never thank David Binet, our out going Board Chair, enough for his extraordinary leadership over the last six years. His wisdom, calmness, generosity and often wicked sense of humour have guided me and helped me in so many ways. I welcome Cornell Wright, our new Board Chair.”

The National Ballet celebrates charitable giving at every level and is grateful for the 3,838 community members who generously donated in 2016/17. In total, donors and volunteers raised $10,925,000 to support the company’s priorities, and the Endowment Foundation generated $3,386,000 in revenues from investments and donations. Donors are recognized through special programmes including Producers’ Circle, Dancers First, Patrons’ Council and Friends’ Corps, as well as our international affiliates American Friends of The National Ballet of Canada and the newly launched UK Friends of The National Ballet of Canada.

Mr. Binet welcomed new Board Chair Cornell Wright, Partner, Torys LLP, as well as new board members Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, Rebecca Mooney, Vice President, Head of Brand and Marketing, RBC Wealth Management, Karen Sparks, Director, Wealth Planning, BMO Wealth Management, Michele Symons and Ed Ogonek (ex officio), Chair of Canada’s National Ballet School. Mr. Binet, who retires from the board, acknowledged and thanked other retiring members Jessica Ray, Victor Royce and Jack Petch (ex officio), former Chair of Canada’s National Ballet School.

Gold service pins are awarded yearly to employees of The National Ballet of Canada who have been with the company for 20 years. Ms. Kain awarded a long service pin to Principal Dancer Xiao Nan Yu who celebrated two decades of dance with the National Ballet, Senior Manager, Interactive & Marketing Operations Stephen Cunningham, Assistant Carpenter/Flyman Geoff Kay, Violinist Nancy Kershaw and Board Secretary Pamela Ouzounian.

Violinists Yakov Lerner and Joanna Zabrowarna, Bassist Robert Speer and Principal Clarinetist Max Christie were recognized for 30 years of performances with the Orchestra. Senior Ballet Master Peter Ottmann, Principal Bassoonist Stephen Mosher and Second Hornist Gary Pattison marked 40 years of service.

The 2016/17 season saw a number of retirements from the company. Corps de Ballet member Lise-Marie Jourdain retired after 15 years with the company, Second Trombonist Robert Ferguson after 41 years, Violinist Filip Tomov after 37 years, Violist Larry Toman after 39 years and Chief Financial Officer Barry Shour following 19 years of service.

The National Ballet of Canada acknowledged The Volunteer Committee, The National Ballet of Canada for its continued dedication and support. To date, the committee has paid for 52 new works through their vital Build-a-Ballet Fund.

2016/17 Selected Financial and Attendance Statistics >
Message from Artistic Director Karen Kain >
Message from Board Chair David Binet >
Message from Executive Director Barry Hughson >

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The National Ballet of Canada dedicates the 2016/17 Season to Sandra and Jim Pitblado in gratitude for their ongoing leadership, extraordinary generosity and enduring friendship.

The National Ballet of Canada gratefully acknowledges the lead touring support of The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C.

The National Ballet thanks these additional tour partners for their generous support:  Gail & Mark Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Judith & Marshall Cohen, Judi Conacher, Jeanie Davis, Richard M. Ivey, C.C., Krista Kerr, Joan & Jerry Lozinski, Julie Medland and two anonymous donors.

Lead philanthropic support for Pinocchio is provided by the Walter Carsen New Creations Fund, with additional support from an anonymous friend of the National Ballet, Tim & Frances Price, The Volunteer Committee of The National Ballet of Canada and The Producers’ Circle.

Genus is made possible by a generous gift from Sandra Simpson and the support of The Producers’ Circle.

A Streetcar Named Desire is made possible by the generous support of The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation and The Producers’ Circle.


The Producers’ Circle: Gail & Mark  Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Inger Bartlett & Marshal Stearns, Susanne Boyce & Brendan Mullen, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, The Thor E. and Nicole Eaton Family Charitable Foundation, Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, Kevin & Roger Garland, Emmanuelle Gattuso and Allan Slaight, The William & Nona Heaslip Foundation, Rosamond Ivey, Hal Jackman Foundation, Anna McCowan-Johnson & Donald K. Johnson, O.C., Judy Korthals & Peter Irwin, Judith & Robert Lawrie, Mona & Harvey Levenstein, Joan & Jerry Lozinski, The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., Lynda & Jonas Prince, Susan Scace & Arthur Scace, C.M., Q.C., Gerald Sheff & Shanitha Kachan, Sandra Simpson and Noreen Taylor, C.M. & David Staines, C.M., O.Ont.

The Dreamers Ever Leave You is generously supported by Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, Kevin Garland, Joan & Jerry Lozinski and The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C.

Dance About is sponsored by Scotiabank.

Share the Magic is sponsored by Sun Life Financial and generously underwritten by Ada Slaight.

The National Ballet of Canada’s Education and Outreach programmes are generously supported by the Anna McCowan-Johnson Fund at The National Ballet of Canada, Endowment Foundation.

YOU dance is supported by Ballet Club Relevé, The McLean Foundation, Beth & Brent Wilson, J.P. Bickell Foundation, The Woodbridge Company and One Anonymous Lady.

The RBC Apprentice Programme is sponsored by The RBC Emerging Artists Project.

The YOU dance Residency in Regent Park is generously supported by Judy & Wil Matthews with additional contributions from Caroline Booth, Maxine Goldberg and Kathleen Metcalfe.

The National Ballet of Canada gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Ontario Arts Council; the City of Toronto through the Economic Development & Culture Department; the Government of Canada – Department of Canadian Heritage, through the Honourable MĂ©lanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages; and the Government of Ontario through the Honourable Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Contact Information

media@national.ballet.ca