Durham, N.C. — American Dance Festival organizers are trying not to lose a step despite the loss of government grants and corporate donations in a down economy.
"Funding has been incredibly difficult," said Jodee Nimerichter, co-director of the six-week annual festival that mixes performances by professional companies with training for dance students.
The festival has lost $500,000 to $1 million in government and corporate funding, Nimerichter said.
"On a $3.3 (million) or $3.5 million budget, that is a huge hit. So we are really concerned," she said.
Fewer performances have been scheduled this year to cut expenses, but organizers held the line on ticket prices – some are even discounted more than in the past – to help attract audiences.
"We are going to really examine everything after this season – ticket sales, funding – before we move forward and do any planning for the following year," Nimerichter said.
Ticket sales are about the same as in 2008, she said, and a benefit performance to provide scholarships for the school is almost sold out. Tickets for performances for the final three weeks of the 2009 festival are still available.
"I think, maybe the consciousness of, in bad times, people do turn towards the arts," she said.
Many festival participants said they are confident the event will endure.
"Dance will always continue," said Shani Collins, an American Dance Festival faculty member.
"There's really no other place where you have this many fabulous artists coming together," student Alia Roberts said. "It's a really great growing environment."