Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Chief Executive Christopher Barron writes about the past 12 months for the Company:

The 2009-10 season has been a magnificent year for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s touring activity.

Two visits to London ensured the Company’s quality was well and truly noticed – the opportunity to perform at the Coliseum shows the Company in its full glory. I was taken aback (!) to discover that our Sleeping Beauty has not been seen in London for over 20 years and delighted to find that it is now properly recognised to be simply the best in the land (no bias!).

We were sorry to see the Northcott Theatre go into administration this spring but wish Exeter University all the best in getting it up and running again. We also look forward to working more closely with Rosemary, Howard and team at the Ambassador’s Theatre Group as they take on the Live Nation theatres including the Sunderland Empire.

Not to be missed was the return visit to the Virginia Arts Festival in sunny Norfolk, USA, this May. The performances of Swan Lake were exceptional and wonderfully received. The Learning team gave an impressive number of workshops to a wide mix of participants strengthening the Company’s relationship in the Norfolk community. The company was given an extremely warm welcome – Rob Cross and team were the epitome of generosity and made the visit particularly enjoyable including selected tours of the harbour to see the fleet amongst other interests. Did you know that the USS Enterprise has 6000 personnel and costs $1m a day to run – that’s half of the annual UK arts spend via Arts Council England!

Birmingham’s Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, Cllr Michael and Mrs Vivienne Wilkes, graciously accompanied us on the visit following a visit by Norfolk’s Mayor Paul Frame to Birmingham the previous December. At the welcome dinner, we saw probably the best exchange of presents I’ve ever seen between dignitaries (forget pandas…for now…). Michael Wilkes presented a beautiful set of crafted silver spoons and historic buttons, made in Birmingham. Mayor Frame produced a large model railway train to appeal to the Lord Mayor’s engineering interest. And we have the invitation to make a third visit in 2013 – Whoopee!

I am pleased to say that we traded just ahead of budget in financial year 2009-10 as we face what appears to be a long period of public funding reduction. After the years of bounty we face a tough regime as the UK fights to come round from the banking crisis and recession. Many current assumptions will change for good, that is clear. However, we will find new ways of making sure Birmingham Royal Ballet continues to create first-class ballet, that it pushes the art form forward and takes its productions to audiences around the country and abroad.

On with the future full of aspiration and opportunity…

Christopher Barron

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