Augusta Ballet repositioning in arts slump

By: Kate Tillotson
By: Kate Tillotson

It's time to hang up the ballet shoes and hammer down a business plan, according to board members of the Augusta Ballet.

"I will say the dip in ticket sales does have concern," says Tara Simkins, president of the Augusta Ballet Board of Trustees.

It's not necessarily music to the ears.

Ballet spokespeople announced that while they will stay open, they'll have to re-choreograph their marketing.

"We need to take a deeper look at our situation and see, what can we do better?" Simkins says.

She is convinced while tickets sales are down, it's nothing they can't twirl out of.

That's why board members will use the rest of this fiscal year to evaluate next year's budget.

Meanwhile, the ballet's venue, the Imperial Theatre, will be on the edge of its seat waiting to hear whether one of its main shows will go on or take a year off.

"[The ballet] has really developed the core of our programming and our audience core as well," says Lara Plocha, executive director of the Theatre.

"You need to know that there is a lot of pressure on the arts industry around the country," says Larry Read, president of the Augusta Symphony Board of Trustees.

Read's group is faring well financially, but he knows others aren't so lucky.

"Look at the Boston Pops; their attendance is down," Read says.

"We noticed a significant decrease in ticket sales to everything we did back in Augusta of '05 right about the same time we had Katrina come through," says Plocha.

So while audiences hope the board raises the bar next year, the board hopes audiences will find ways of stretching their extra dollars.

Wednesday they put a positive spin on creating a new, artistic product that fits the needs of the community.

The board hopes to have some answers by June 30, but they may need a little more time.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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