Dance Kaleidoscope's $100K+ budget deficit 

Dance Kaleidoscopes 2012 Cole! was its best attended production in its 40-year history.
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  • Dance Kaleidoscope's 2012 Cole! was its best attended production in its 40-year history.
"Dance Kaleidoscope is in the red by $137,000! Help keep DK dancing. Every gift, no matter how small or large, will help to narrow this gap."

Those lines led off a recent email to DK supporters from Jan Virgin, DK's executive director, who's taking the deficit personally: "In my years with DK, since 1996-97, this is a first for me." Fresh infusions of cash have started to pour in since Virgin reached out, and the deficit was $126,000 as of June 28.

Obviously, expenditures exceeded income for the 2011-12 season, so what happened this year to break Virgin's 15-year run of balancing lean budgets? Virgin describes a perfect deficit storm swirling around unprecedented increases in line items including insurance, renting studio, storage and performance spaces and touring. Add all that to DK's largest expenditure - the costs associated with mounting each production.

Meanwhile DK received less contributions this year than expected. Individual giving and special projects came in under 33 percent of what was anticipated; corporate and sponsorships were 28 percent less; the annual gala brought in 15 percent less; and foundation grants were down 12 percent.

"In spite of multiple successes, including the highest attended production in DK's 40 years [Cole!], largest ticket revenue for one production [two weekends of Super Soul] and largest number of students reached in our educational programs [15,000, representing an increase of 6000 over 2010-2011] and "Conversations With David" programs drawing capacity audiences, DK still recognizes a shortfall," Virgin says. "So much is out of our control - interest rates and personal income are down, some of our past biggest individual donors have moved elsewhere, in-kind giving is harder to come by. Everyone else has to meet their expenses so we can't ask for special breaks. It's a domino effect."

Virgin explains everyone connected with DK is "addressing every aspect of the budget while not harming the artistic product. We are small and we are close to each other. We all are doing this together to reach more supporters and gain more audience while making our usual lean operation even leaner."

Yet there are realities - a dance company can't be too small. A season has to introduce challenging new work to stretch audiences beyond name recognition pieces. Touring, which at best breaks even and most often causes a deficit, is a necessary for maintaining a professional year-round company.

"Touring keeps dancers dancing beyond the four-production season; with every performance, every new community, every new audience dancers learn and grow," she explains. "They renew energy, gain increasing synergy through different partnerships."

While going public was painful, Virgin says it has shown her "the worst of times can be the best. It's heartbreaking and heartwarming. Trimming is a reality - 10% across the board: no new hires, stay with what we have for production elements, be even more inventive with marketing."

She reports individuals are responding, making their own sacrifices to ensure DK remains viable. Directors of other non-profits are offering ideas and possible collaborations to widen DK's audience base. "It's a combination of people being a family sharing a feeling of empowerment through love and support."

Donate via the web, by calling 317-940-6555 or by the post (Dance Kaleidoscope, 4603 Clarendon Rd, Suite 32, Indianapolis, IN, 46208).

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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