Orlando Ballet just published a 'fact sheet' on their failed negotiations with the Dr. Phillips Center and it pulls no punches


  • Photo courtesy of Orlando Ballet
  • Zero chill.
Orlando Ballet has taken the lead on public communications regarding the breakdown of recent negotiations between the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the three flagship performing arts orgs: Orlando Ballet, Orlando Opera and Orlando Philharmonic – and hoo-boy, they are taking a tone.

In a nutshell, the arts center is setting the terms for use of Steinmetz Hall, the "acoustic hall" that's supposed to be the new home for these three groups, and these three groups feel they're getting a bum deal. It's fair to say that the DPC would not have been funded or built without the support of the existing arts groups in town. And Steinmetz has been delayed multiple times, so it's easy to see why these groups are losing patience.

Late last week the Ballet's executive director and board president sent out an email that began: "As you have seen in the media, yesterday was a culmination of two years of discussions that has reached an impasse. Public spats are regrettable, and this was entirely avoidable."

The missive went on to declare, "We are not going back to the days where Orlando Ballet had no choice but to accept whatever terms were dictated because of our weak position."

OOOOKKKKK, pass the popcorn!

The Ballet leadership is definitely playing offense here. Rather than direct their side of the story to favored reporters or even just the media, these emails are going out to everyone on their mailing lists. And today's communique makes us think they've been listening to Lizzo because it turns out they are 100% THAT BITCH. We're not even going to parse it; you can read the whole thing for yourself below.
In light of overwhelming public interest regarding negotiations with the Dr. Phillips Center, Orlando Ballet, Opera Orlando and Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra have collaborated and created this FACT SHEET to provide an information source about the issue. We will update this document when necessary.

• Orlando Ballet (OB), Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra (OPO) and Opera Orlando (OO) have spent the past two years working with the Dr. Phillips Center (DPC) to reach agreement on fees and other expenses to be applied upon the opening of the new Steinmetz Hall at DPC.
• Last week, DPC suspended negotiations unexpectedly, leaving all three performing arts groups with no ability to plan budgets or schedule performances for future seasons as is necessary in our industry.
• OB, OPO and OO seek fair, reasonable and long-term agreements for up to five years, but every attempt has been delayed. Multi-year agreements are common practice and a necessary industry standard so that talent, staging, costumes and the other complexities can be confirmed and planned for in plenty of time.
• All three groups seek reasonable rates, priority dates for performances, and reasonable control over routine activities such as lobby setup, labor and parking. Currently, the Broadway series and the Dr. Phillips Presents are given scheduling priority, preventing local groups from scheduling top level guest artists and other elements required in the performing arts.
• While we are non-profit organizations in the arts culture, we are business leaders trying to negotiate an agreement that protects our respective budgets and sustainability.
• Specifically, the primary issues include:
- Current theater costs for the Disney Theater and Bob Carr Theatre exceed averages for comparable ballets and orchestras in similar theaters and cities; we have documentation validating this.
- Although initially committed to be an 1,800-seat house, Steinmetz Hall will likely seat only 1,500 for ballet, orchestra, and opera performances, significantly reducing our ability to generate sales revenue. We simply will have fewer seats.
- All parties involved agreed to reach agreement by July 31, but DPC unexpectedly suspended negotiations last week.

- Rate freeze for five years from 2018-19 rentals, patron facility and box office fees, along with front of house costs such as cleaning, ushers and security personnel.
- Priority for dates in Steinmetz Hall for the next 5 years; and secured Nutcracker dates in Disney Theater.
- Reasonable terms for lobby usage.
- Resident Company status.

- OB – Over the past two years, rental rates have gone up 50 percent and are projected to increase by an additional 26 percent over the next two years.
- OPO – The Philharmonic has experienced a 123 percent increase over the past five years in the Bob Carr Theatre.
- In typical orchestra configuration, Steinmetz Hall capacity is a 37 percent reduction from Bob Carr Theater capacity, requiring OPO to add Classical Concerts in order to serve its existing patron base.
- OPO – In relation to additional concerts, DPC’s proposed direct facility costs – rental and labor rates – constitute a 95 percent increase in venue expenses from Bob Carr Theatre to the first season in Steinmetz Hall.
- OO – The Opera would experience an increase from the $16.30 per seat rate it pays to DPC in the Pugh Theater to a cost of $33.17 per seat in Steinmetz Hall, monies that go to DPC before anything goes to artists, the orchestra, etc. With the non-profit rate and additional a la carte expenses offered to OO by DPC, this would rise to a 203 percent increase.
- Front of House – In one year costs will increase anywhere from 22-55 percent based on capacity to run a hall that is 44 percent smaller than the Disney Theater and 37 percent smaller than the Bob Carr Theatre.
- OPO – Of the three groups, the Philharmonic is the only group that seeks to maintain management of individual and subscription ticket sales. DPC indicates it will allow OPO to sell only 10 percent of available single tickets while DPC maintains control of the remaining 90 percent. Additionally, DPC seeks to provide priority ticket sale access to their donors and board above our own patrons. OPO seeks equal access; whoever sells tickets first.
- DPC’s claims of having given $2 million in rent and services is misleading and theoretical. According to DPC’s theory, IF they rented the Hall at FULL commercial rate for every week that we are in it that they could make that much more money.
- DPC statements that theirs is the least expensive hall in the state are misleading:
• They are comparing halls that do not have resident companies.
• All have 2,000 plus seats.
• They are comparing rental fees only and not including additional costs such as staffing, etc.
• DPC refuses “resident” status to Opera Orlando.
• DPC was established and construction approved by Orange County, the City of Orlando, and significant public funding.
• DPC made a commitment to local nonprofit arts organizations and assured the community that Orlando’s fine arts would be able to call DPC “home” for the majority of regular season productions. Under their new requirements, we simply won’t be able to afford to use Steinmetz Hall, the crown jewel of our community.
• OB, OPO, and OO are community-driven organizations committed to keeping costs for our patrons at a fair price, and making the fine arts within reach for EVERYONE in Central Florida.
• We are negotiating not just for ourselves but on behalf of donors, ticket-purchasers, and the amazing community which made this arts center possible.

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