New Bedford Ballet Needs a New Home
Letter to the Editor of the New Bedford Standard-Times by Shirley Kayne and DR. Jo-Ann B. Bier
Ms. Kayne is artistic director and president of the New Bedford Ballet Foundation. Dr. Bier is the foundation’s secretary.
For more than 20 years, the School of the New Bedford Ballet and the New Bedford Ballet Foundation have served the Greater New Bedford community by introducing children to the magical world of ballet. Over 1,500 children have taken ballet classes with us during that time, some of them going on to professional dance careers and all of them enriched through the experience of beauty and hard work that is ballet.
We currently have 135 students enrolled in classes and just presented “The Door Beyond the Sun” at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center earlier this month.
The New Bedford Ballet Foundation (NBBF) is the nonprofit arm of the school and has the mission of promoting and presenting classical ballets, granting scholarships and educating the community in the value of the performing arts. As a result of private and corporate contributions, as well as grants from the United Way and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the NBBF presents a broad range of outreach programs throughout the year. These include a ballet program for at-risk children at elementary schools, a Dance Arts Camp for preschool children whose families would otherwise be unable to afford this type of program, a Bringing Books to Life Through Movement school program, dance classes for children with hearing impairments, and a multicultural dance program in schools and Head Start programs.
The NBBF is proud of its strong record of partnering with local organizations. We present Youth Ballet performances for PACE Child Care Works Program and the Community Partnerships for Children. We have presented Youth Ballet performances at local schools, St. Luke’s Hospital, New Bedford First Night and AHA! We also participate in the Mentoring through Movement programs in elementary schools and the PACE Headstart program. This summer we are collaborating with the New Bedford Council on Aging, bringing a senior dance/movement program to seniors.
The NBBF also is an ambassador for New Bedford, providing holiday season performances at Boston’s Children Hospital and Providence’s Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
We feel that the School of the New Bedford Ballet and the NBBF have made valuable contributions to the community, and we are committed to continuing our mission of serving children and supporting the performing arts in this community.
However, we are now faced with a challenge that requires us to ask the community for help. We recently learned that we must relocate. Our home on County Street has a new owner that needs the space we formerly rented. We have therefore started a search for a new location, but so far have not been successful.
The search has been difficult because of the special needs of a ballet school. We need approximately 4,000 to 5,000 square feet that can be split into three studios that have 35-by-20-foot areas with no columns and nine-foot ceilings.
We also have come to realize that the cost of leasing has risen significantly beyond the rent we had been paying, so we must find a place with affordable rent! In order to begin classes in the fall, we need to find a new home quickly to do the work necessary to make the space suitable for dance classes.
For more than 20 years the School of the New Bedford Ballet and the NBBF have brought the thrill and joy of ballet performance to countless young dancers, their proud families, and the broader community. We now hope that someone in the community can help us continue this important work.
To reach the New Bedford Ballet, call (508) 993-1387.
July 03, 2008
New Bedford Ballet Needs a New Home