Covid-19 leads to Cape Town City Ballet retrenchments

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On 17 September 2020 the Cape Town City Ballet announced the retrenchment of some of its dancers.(Photo: Thomas Barwick/ Getty images)
On 17 September 2020 the Cape Town City Ballet announced the retrenchment of some of its dancers.(Photo: Thomas Barwick/ Getty images)
  • As a result of the state-imposed lockdown, 2020 has seen Cape Town based cultural institutions like The Fugard, Artscape, The Baxter and District Six Museum facing financial difficulties. 
  • Last week the Cape Town City Ballet followed suit, announcing the retrenchment of some of its dancers in order to subsidise the money made from across the board salary cuts.
  • Chairperson of the board of Cape Town City Ballet, Suzette Raymond hopes to one day soon be able to welcome the retrenched staff back. 

During the six month period from level five to level two of the state imposed Covid-19 lockdown, gatherings of more than 50 people were prohibited. This has had dire effects on various arts and culture industries because facilities cancelled their programmes for the better part of 2020, resulting in no box office income. 

On 17 September 2020 the Cape Town City Ballet announced the retrenchment of some of its dancers.

Commenting on the decision to retrench dancers, chairperson of the board of Cape Town City Ballet, Suzette Raymond said the following: 

Our entire planned programme for 2020 has been cancelled, having a significant financial impact on the organisation… Unfortunately, like many companies nationally and internationally, we were left with no other option than to make the difficult decision to enter into a comprehensive consultative process to retrench some of our dancers.

This comes after the indefinite closure of The Fugard, the Artscape theatre complex cancelling all its performances until 2021 and The Baxter theatre’s call for donations to stay afloat.

For the first five months of lockdown, City Ballet managed to sustain itself for five months without its usual ticket sale income. During that time the company explored alternative streams of income that were meant to append what the City Ballet had saved from implementing salary cuts for the board, admin staff and dancers.

In addition to urging the public to help keep City Ballet going through donations and investments, Raymond is also hopeful that the retrenchments are a temporary means saying: 

The dancers are immensely talented artists and we hope to be able to welcome them back at some point in the future. These are incredibly challenging times for arts and culture companies around the world.

For more information visit www.capetowncityballet.org.za 

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