• December 21, 2014

Recovering From Year-End Setbacks, an Arts Group Puts Supporters on Stage

122013 nutcracker

Stephen Baranovics

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Stephen Baranovics

To jump-start year-end giving, Maryland Youth Ballet is putting its best supporters front and center—and on stage.

This Sunday and Monday, Carol Trawick, a longtime donor, and a pair of Maryland politicians, state Sen. Jamie Raskin and Del. Sheila Hixson, will join the cast of “The Nutcracker,” the organization’s holiday fundraising event. The ballet hopes the special appearance will help sell more tickets and make up for fundraising setbacks this month.

“From a fundraising perspective, if you have a little bit out of the ordinary, people are more willing to give,” says Alyce Jenkins, the ballet’s executive director.

For the past four years, the group has staged 10 full-length two-hour performances of “The Nutcracker” and six 50-minute mini-versions to raise money during the crucial year-end giving season.

But bad weather in the region forced the cancellation of a sold-out performance of the shorter version of “The Nutcracker” and classes at the ballet school. The scrapped performance and classes due to snow cost the organization more than $10,000 in revenue.

The cameo-performance concept had been percolating in the minds of the organization’s leaders, but they didn’t move forward until weather problems got in the way. The school, which provides ballet training to more than 900 youths and 700 adults, hopes to net $50,000 from ticket sales for all the performances in the next two weeks. So far, the two shows in which the guests will appear are nearly sold out.

Guest Stars

All three of the guest performers will be encouraging their supporters to buy tickets, Ms. Jenkins says.

Ms. Trawick has given $60,000 to start and expand the ballet school’s JumpStart Program, which offers classical ballet training to kids under 10 whose families can’t afford the tuition. The foundation has also continued to give a $2,500 scholarship tuition for one student in the past few years.

The two Maryland lawmakers aren’t donors to the ballet school, but they do lend their names as honorary co-chairs to the organization’s annual fundraising galas. The supporters will appear in the party scene of Act 1. The women will play the favorite aunt of the show’s lead character, Clara. (Ms. Hixson is performing Sunday, Ms. Trawick on Monday.) Mr. Raskin, performing on Sunday, will play Clara’s favorite uncle. They’ll be outfitted in period costume and will mime and act as well as do some dancing.

“They’re professionals,” Ms. Jenkins says. “They’re used to being in the public eye. We’re confident that they’ll probably steal the scene.”

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