Oakland Ballet Company to host gala fundraiser

(Photo courtesy of: The Oakland Ballet Company and oaklandballet.org)

(Photo courtesy of: The Oakland Ballet Company and oaklandballet.org)

After canceling its spring dance program amid financial troubles, the Oakland Ballet Company plans to host its annual gala fundraiser on May 5 in the Kaiser Center Auditorium.

The event will feature OBC dancers performing duets choreographed by Artistic Director Graham Lustig, as well as both silent and live auctions and a reception with drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Proceeds from the gala will benefit OBC production and program expenses.

In December, the ballet company postponed its performance of Diaghilev Imagery, a reimagining of works commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev in the early 20th Century, when its December run of The Nutcracker and fundraising efforts did not bring in enough cash. The decrease in ticket sales and donations contributed to a budget deficit of 15 percent of the company’s $600,000 annual budget for 2011.

The theme of this year’s gala is “The Power of Many,” which OBC Board Chair and President Roz Perazzo said in an email “drives their spring fundraising campaign, emphasizing that many smaller contributions can make a huge impact.”
Already, some of this year’s OBC fundraising efforts have paid off, she said.

“Since its launch in January, our ‘1,000 gifts of $50’ campaign has raised over $11,000 toward our goal of $50,000,” Perazzo said.

The May gala will include some unique opportunities for guests, like eating dessert with the Oakland Ballet dancers. Those interested in the auction can bid on lunch with Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan or with Oakland Fire Chief Theresa Reed, get-away weekend packages and an opportunity to make a cameo appearance in Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker in December.

“This is a great opportunity for the community to meet Mr. Lustig and OBC dancers, and enjoy the ballet in the intimate Kaiser Center Auditorium,” Perazzo said.

This event is one of the OBC’s biggest fundraisers of the year. This year’s gala is the second held by the OBC since the 47-year-old company closed in 2006 and then reopened in 2007.

Perazzo said the success of the OBC’s spring fundraising activities, which also includes grant writing and seeking partners in the business community, will determine how many shows the company puts on for their 2012-13 season. Diaghilev Imagery will be produced in the spring of 2013 if the organization is financially able to support the performance, Perazzo said.

The Kaiser Center Auditorium at 300 Lakeside Drive can hold up to 350 guests. Tickets to the gala cost $125 each, which includes parking. $75 of the ticket is a donation. Those interested in attending can email info@oaklandballet.org, call (510) 893-3132 or can purchase tickets on the OBC site at oaklandballet.org.

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