Thank you to Josh Neckels, Executive Director of the Eugene Ballet, for his presentation on the progress of the Eugene Ballet and Midtown Arts Center through 2020. The Midtown facility will open in February 2021. 

Eugene Ballet Adapts During the Pandemic

The Eugene Ballet has been managing as best as possible through the pandemic during 2020. The first impact was that they closed the academy and canceled the Northwest Dance Festival and community outreach programs they scheduled for the spring. They also postponed and then canceled their Heaven & Earth show. 

In April, instructors learned how to Zoom, and students joined online learning as best they could. 

In May, they offered free online streaming of archived broadcasts.

Transitioning During Summer

In June, phase 2 arrived, and the academy reopened for in-person classes (10 students at a time). Zoom classes expanded too (over 30 classes offered online).

In July, they looked at different scenarios for how to survive. They observed other industries and considered artists’ health and well-being. They successfully applied for funding (PPP, EIDL). Additionally, they canceled planned venues and tours.

In July, Tony Pimble received the 2020 Governor’s Arts Award. She is the founding artistic director, having started Eugene Ballet in 1978. Tony has choreographed over 70 ballets that have been performed internationally. She designs many of the costumes and, during 2020, built costumes for shows that are 2-3 seasons out. 

Eugene Ballet Adjusts During Fall and Into Spring

As Eugene Ballet looked for a return to the stage, they explored a pod approach with studio time combined with at-home workouts as well as COVID testing and protocols. 

In October, they returned to the stage for the first time and performed a ballet on Halloween as a one performance only live stream fundraiser. It was the longest period off stage in the company’s existence. 

Due to the extreme freeze, they closed the Nutcracker and re-broadcast the 2018 performance online. They scheduled the next performance, provided restrictions are lifted, for March 2021.

Opening the Midtown Arts Center

The new Midtown Arts Center, located at 16th and Pearl, is scheduled to open this February. Opening the center has been a hope-filled, shining, and positive goal for students and staff for many years. 

The center will increase our community’s access to the arts and provide practice rooms comparable to performance areas at the Hult Center. Company rehearsals will begin late January and other classes in February (or once we are out of the current extreme designation for Lane County). Students, our community, and the arts will benefit from the center.

Midtown Arts Benefits for Students

  • increases the capacity to serve students 
  • provides access to high-quality, professional-level studios
  • conveniently located for students

Midtown Arts Benefits for the Community

  • will enhance the neighborhood and greater Eugene 
  • provides new opportunities for expanded arts and cultural education 
  • strengthens the city’s reputation as an arts-rich community

Midtown Arts Center Benefits for the Arts

  • will be home to many local arts organizations 
  • will support new and growing organizations 
  • provides a total of seven rehearsal studios

Watch the video here to see more about the Arts Center and what it means to the dancers in the Eugene Ballet Company. 

Fundraising for the New Arts Center

Funding the new Arts Center has been a major commitment. Funding is divided between government support, individual support, foundation support, and selling the Eugene Ballet’s former property (currently on the market).

Fundraising had to change dramatically because of COVID, so long-term financing has been incorporated to bridge gaps. Almost $3 of the $6.8 million needed has been raised. Once the former property is sold, $1.3 million will be needed to be debt-free.

The Midtown Luxury Living

The new center will be located inside The Midtown, which will host several other non-profits. It will also have 39 residential units with incredible views, flats, townhouses, and penthouses from 678-1980 square feet.

For more on the latest news about the organizations and people in our community, view our other blogs.