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Published on February 18, 2024
San Francisco Ballet Receives Record-Breaking $60 Million Anonymous Donation to Propel Artistic VenturesSource: Google Street View

In a move that's got the world of pirouettes and grand jetés buzzing, the San Francisco Ballet has pirouetted into the spotlight with a jaw-dropping $60 million donation given anonymously. According to SFist, this eye-watering sum shatters all previous records, becoming the most significant financial windfall in the dance company’s narrative.

The cash infusion, as reported by San Francisco Ballet, is earmarked with a vision – $50 million will be pirouetting its way to the organization's endowment, with a robust $108 million already sitting pretty. The remaining $10 million will be stepping up to cover the operating costs over the next few years, helping to keep the lights on and the tulle twirling.

Artistic Director Tamara Rojo, who's already made waves with her ambitious programming, including the world premieres of "Mere Mortals" and "Carmen," spoke of the sheer magnitude of the donor's generosity. "The impact is immeasurable," Rojo told the New York Times, "It’s a gift of new creativity — a gift of the lifeblood of what a ballet company is, and has always been."

Interim Executive Director Arturo Jacobus also couldn't contain his excitement, hastily telling KTVU, "Thrilled, being awed and humbled," as he attempted to express the enormous significance of the donation. Jacobus continued, saying, "The donor would like to see this historical gift raise the sights and inspire other donors to give bigger gifts to this company and other ballet companies." He emphasizes the donation's strategic aim of welcoming new audience members to the fold.

The ballet troop was not immune to the financial pirouettes caused by the pandemic, with ticket sales plummeting from $22 million in 2019 to a not-so-grandé $18 million in 2022. Last year, they leaped back up to $21 million, but the War Memorial Opera House, where SF Ballet strut their stuff, only fills about half of its 3,100 seats on some nights, as mentioned by SFist.

Nonetheless, this financial round of applause could be just the encore SF Ballet needs to keep stepping to the forefront of cultural innovation. The recent premiere of "Mere Mortals" saw a surge in attendance, hinting at a bright future for the organization under the limelight. With this historic backing, SF Ballet is poised to leap higher than before, pushing the boundaries of ballet to new and dizzying heights.