Dear Friends,

Welcome to PNB’s 20/21 Season! While we’ve known for some time that this would be largely a virtual season, it is still disappointing not to be welcoming all of you back into McCaw Hall. But there will absolutely come a day when we can do that, so keep the faith, and keep us close. And in the meantime, we can be grateful that dance can happen anywhere.

We have not been together in our performance venue, McCaw Hall, since our February run of Cinderella. The very abrupt halt in March to our anxiously awaited performance of Cerrudo and Dawson ballets was heart-breaking for all. It was to be a gloriously exciting rep for our company and our audience. We filmed the dress rehearsal on that surreal Thursday evening, said our good-byes, and went home to stay.

While we sheltered in place alone, we took time to look inward and turned to our perpetual, unwavering strengths as an organization: the visceral need to create, move and express; the support from our patrons; and our staunch loyalty and responsibility to the community we serve. As McCaw Hall and the Phelps Center sat vacant we went home to strategize, implement and advocate, so we could continue to give the community what they very much needed during this difficult time. We did what needed to be done with vastly changed resources — PNB company dancers began taking company classes from kitchen counters in their apartments, PNB students took Zoom classes from their garages, and staff went home to revise budgets, cut expenses in the face of vastly reduced revenue, and, of course, fundraise and advocate.

With every advancing repertory that we were unable to bring to the stage last season our hearts sank a bit more.  As you know, the pandemic also forced cancellation of our long-awaited New York City performances at Lincoln Center. Again, another huge heartbreak for our company. For ballet companies around the world, this is a year and a season like no other. We feel your commitment, loyalty and gratitude–to dance as an essential art form and to the important role that Pacific Northwest Ballet plays in your lives and in our community.

We’ve all been reminded to look for the silver linings of the pandemic and so I share with you three of them. PNB’s annual members meeting we held in September welcomed over 100 members to our Zoom call where we shared both the challenges of cutting our 19/20 season short as well as the significant impact this season has on earned revenue. Our reach is also further given our ability to present our work digitally, and across time zones at a convenient time for viewers. We currently have season subscribers from 6 countries including Austria, Ireland, and Japan. Lastly, our gala, which we will be held Friday, November 20, 2020, has no cost to attend and so we would love for you to mark your calendars and join us. We are excited to be able to host many more patrons than the normal 300 diners we can typically host at McCaw Hall.

Like all brilliant ballet, the effort of putting on this season may appear effortless to our patrons. But that is so far from the reality. I’m incredibly proud and grateful for our leadership team, staff, teachers, artists and board who have worked so very, very hard to continue to bring the highest caliber of art to our community in this hyper-constrained environment. But our work in a vacuum can take us only so far. I want each of you reading this to know that truly it is your enthusiasm, encouragement, gratefulness, and financial support that made our return to the virtual stage possible this season. PNB’s Relief Fund, which so many of you generously supported, raised $1.75M in FY20. That effort has now become the PNB Fund for the Future and funding our future is vitally important. PNB has gone from a $25M revenue company in FY19 to what will be a $13M company for FY21. It will take our whole community’s support, and a Nutcracker in McCaw Hall, to restore our organization to a $25M company and it will not happen overnight and it will take an immense amount of work, dedication and support. With each of you by our side, we are up for the challenge, and we know we will get there.

PNB is a very big family. We know if our family of artists, staff, volunteers, and patrons lock arms and work diligently to prepare to move forward in both old and new ways, we will all unite again for another beautiful season at McCaw Hall. We are immeasurably grateful for every member of our vast PNB family and the many ways you have helped sustain us during these difficult months. You have sent us encouragement, gratitude, suggestions, praise, and your resources. We appreciate them all. This is your company. Stay close to us this season and enjoy the show!

With heartfelt gratitude,

Aya Hamilton
Chairman, PNB Board of Trustees

Featured photo: PNB dancer Elizabeth Murphy in George Balanchine’s Emeralds. Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust. Photo © Angela Sterling.