Mayor urges support of Ballet Kelowna

Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray hopes a knight in shining armour can ride up and save Ballet Kelowna.

During a lengthy, impassioned, election type soliloquy, Grey called a decision by Ballet Kelowna's board to close up shop was a shame - but understandable.

"It's tragic to think that such a fine professional organization is going to have to fold because in its own town, at its own gate at the Community Theatre, it can't get enough bums in the seats," says Gray who told council the ballet troupe attracts more people to performances in Revelstoke, Golden and Williams Lake than it does in its own community with a market area of 180,000 people.

"It's no wonder the very business-like board has concluded it's not sustainable. The community isn't prepared to support it so, before it goes bankrupt they are better to simply liquidate."

The mayor applauded that approach.

"They realize that at the end of the season they will be able to pay off their bills, fold their tent and disappear into the sunset," says Gray.

"That will make Ballet Kelowna probably better than most organizations, including Regatta and Snofest and those other organizations where a city is, at some point in time, approached to bail them out. Bailing out something that has already failed is very difficult for us at this table to justify to the taxpayer."

Gray says he hopes there is still time - pointing to the struggles suffered in recent years by Ballet BC.

"They (Ballet BC) simply went to the public and said if you are not going to come and see our shows we can't afford to put them on and the public in the Vancouver area rallied. Ballet BC was saved," says Gray.

"Maybe, maybe, and it's an off chance, it (Ballet Kelowna) could be saved if enough people showed up March 15."

That's the date of the last scheduled performance of Ballet Kelowna at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

"Save something happening at, or on, or immediately after March 15, we can say goodbye to a very important part of our arts community," concluded Gray.

"That's a shame because that's an area of our community that we are trying to develop."

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