Friday, March 15, 2013

Young Soon Kim replies to Matthew Westerby's open letter

Reply from Young Soon Kim 
(Artistic Director, WHITE WAVE)
to Matthew Westerby's OPEN LETTER TO THE DANCE COMMUNITY 
(See March 2, 2013 post here.)

Dear Matthew,
Your Open Letter was brought to our attention. Although we emailed, offered to meet, or speak on our studio and cell phones, you declined. There is was only one actual attempt at contacting us in your alleged “numerous attempts,” indicated in the Open Letter and your email dated February 28th. We emailed you November 3rd to coordinate a costume pick-up, which you made and retrieved in December. The white shirts used as props in your piece My Heart is Breaking had been shifted in our preparative measures for Hurricane Sandy, and we were not able to locate them in the midst of the disaster and construction. As soon as we found the black bag containing the shirts once renovations were completed, we immediately informed you. It was disappointing to see your false claims.
As you know from picking up the costumes yourself and eye-witnessing the water-damaged basement, molded walls and destroyed furniture, the storm hit us hard. We were devastated with being forced to cancel eight WAVE RISING SERIES performances (and several workshops/classes), including your final performance the day Sandy made landfall. With our basement six feet under water, we had no choice.
Regarding your performance agreement, a contract signed June 5, 2012, the Wednesday Preview Night is separate from the box office. Per paragraph 7 of the agreement, “Net proceeds of box office revenue (receipts from ticket sales minus payments to tech personnel) for Thursday through Sunday performances will be distributed among participating companies.”
Our total budget for producing the SERIES exceeds $80,000. We were thrilled our outreach efforts led to the SERIES being featured in The New York Times Dance Listing and a video episode of PBS-NYC/Arts. We also made best efforts to collaborate on marketing the production and raise ticket sales together, as the performance agreement also states. We spent a Saturday providing a marketing workshop on how to promote shows, gave your company a spotlight on our website and sent several emails leading up to Preview Night, suggesting numerous tips to lift sales.
As we communicated on various occasions, ticket sales were down. This year’s WAVE RISING SERIES (Programs A-D plus the special show on Sunday, November 4th) generated $3,136.72 in total revenue, a 63% decrease from the six-year average sales total. Program C’s entire ticket sales amounted to $698.72. Per the performance agreement, actual production costs for tech personnel are deducted. The production cost for four tech personnel including a lighting designer, stage manager and backstage managers was $1,325 in Week 2, which was divided between Programs C and D ($662.50 each). Net proceeds for Program C, the split bill with Matthew Westerby Company, Alexandra Elliott, Jessica DiMauro/DiMauro Dance and Flexicurve, totaled $36.22 and Matthew Westerby Company’s share of the box office is $9.05.
Despite our staff’s dedication, we regret that last year’s ticket sales fell short of expectations. We’re sorry that a natural disaster forced the cancellation of shows and created a loss in revenue of approximately $10,000 – both to our organization and the artists whom we serve.
In WHITE WAVE’s role as a resource to the dance community, when a past program in the WAVE RISING SERIES makes less than $100 as determined by the contract, we gave artists a small honorarium from our available operating funds. As a choreographer myself, I wish I had such an honorarium for you today. Sadly, we do not. Ticket sales for Week 2 Preview Night, for instance, were only $172.08. Several hundred dollars went towards preparing food and drinks for you, your dancers, other performers and audience members that evening, and came at my company’s expense.
We have exhausted every avenue for emergency relief – we have rebuilt our walls, we have replaced our floors, we have restored our dressing room and warm-up areas for our artists. However, there is one more avenue of emergency assistance we are pursuing, and we would gladly consider allocating awarded funds to you and fellow 2012 participants. While emergency funding to-date has been designed for structural damage, debris and other direct costs, a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) is the only program of its kind available to cover economic losses from the storm – in our case the cancellation of eight WAVE RISING SERIES performances. The application is extremely involved, and we are in the final stages of the process. The status of any disbursements will be made public, and we are expecting an SBA loan determination within 2-3 months. We will be in contact with choreographers affected by the storm at that time.
Our hearts go out to all communities, and our dance community especially, who’ve suffered as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Our commitment to these communities remains, and as a presenter of thousands of international dancemakers, we sincerely strive to create an environment that supports these remarkable, emerging and established artists.
Best Regards, 
Young Soon Kim, Artistic Director (WHITE WAVE)

1 comment:

Catherine A Peila said...

Thank you both Matthew Westerby and Young Soon Kim for your public honesty. this dialogue must continue but submitted to the foundations - our non-profit system is broken. The answer is not to behave like for profit businesses and clients but create a balance and greater equity among the diverse spectrum of cultural groups and forms. I am terribly familiar with both sides of the argument and the poverty is real and devastating for all. Know that many of us are working endlessly to end this cycle, making sure the conversation stays positive and the change happens from the big picture not by destroying any individual group or idea. all of us can participate in change.

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