Ballet San Jose says it may fold if it can’t raise $550,000 by the end of next week.
The ballet company is calling the fundraising a "must-do" campaign that’s “vital for continued operations.”
Ballet San Jose has had financial problems for years, but CEO Alan Hineline says he had the budget in balance until he started finding unexpected debts left by former managers.
“And that’s across a wide variety of vendors.”
For instance, Hineline said when he contacted the trusts controlling the work of three choreographers on Ballet San Jose’s last program, they all told him that Ballet San Jose had unpaid bills from licensing previous dances.
“You will not be able to do any of these ballets,” Hineline said they told him, “until you clear up the accounts payable."
“So what we started with was a budget, and what we ended up with was a different animal.”
The company is also clearing up a half-million-dollar bill with the IRS.
“It’s been an enormous drain on cash," Hineline said
Ballet San Jose has had a tough few years, since forming a partnership with New York's American Ballet Theatre in 2012. It has canceled some performances and given up live music at others. The dance company’s budget is now $5.6 million, down 30 percent from four years ago.
Artistic Director Jose Manuel Carreno said he is continuing to plan the company’s next season.
“I’m optimistic and I haven’t lost my faith,” he said.
Ballet San Jose’s problems are nothing new in the South Bay, where a number of arts groups have struggled to find donors despite the overflowing wealth of Silicon Valley companies and employees.
“I’m not scared. We've done remarkable things,” said Ballet San Jose board chair Millicent Powers. “It would have been scary to do the same old thing and hope for a different outcome."
Ballet San Jose has already raised $500,000 since January, with a goal of $3.5 million by October to keep the company solvent.
The emergency fundraising is part of a long-term effort to rebrand the dance company as Silicon Valley Ballet and develop new audiences with performances at venues on the Peninsula.