San Francisco Ballet: On "Pointe" for the Future
The SF Ballet was regarded as one of the top ballet companies in the world. It had an enviable earned revenue percentage of almost 50% and had an internationally recognized ballet school. However, by 2019 the Ballet faced a number of challenges. Ballet was a European art form that had gained popularity in the U.S. a century ago, but the demographics of the U.S. no longer reflected those European roots. In San Francisco, the Ballet had been a favorite pastime of the older, monied set, but the city's demographics had changed over the last few decades as young Millennials had flocked to San Francisco to join the burgeoning tech industry. The Ballet struggled to attract younger audiences and found itself competing with digital alternatives for how people spent their leisure time. Moreover, to make changes in programming, accessibility, and the Opera House venue to appeal to younger audiences, the Ballet risked alienating its loyal, older donors, who were the lifeblood of the Ballet's revenue model. Kelly Tweeddale, the newly hired Executive Director, had to consider the interests of various stakeholders--dancers, donors, audience, staff, board, and the local community--which often were at odds with one another. With limited resources, the Ballet needed to choose which changes to tackle first and those decisions were tied to how the organization prioritized its various constituents.