CINCINNATI, OH (January 29, 2020) – The official groundbreaking for the new Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance on Tuesday, February 4 from 11 am to noon. City of Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and Council Member Greg Landsman, along with Hamilton County Commissioners Denise Driehaus and Stephanie Summerow Dumas, will help mark this momentous occasion. Mayor Cranley will also share remarks about the importance of the project to the city. List of speakers includes Cincinnati Ballet President + CEO Scott Altman, Artistic Director Victoria Morgan, as well as significant donors Margaret Valentine, Rhonda Sheakley, and Otto M. Budig. After remarks, a ceremonial groundbreaking will take place.
The new center for dance will be built on vacant land purchased by Cincinnati Ballet at 1801 Gilbert Avenue. Cincinnati Ballet is currently engaged in a building capital campaign to fund the $30 million project. Longtime Cincinnati Ballet patrons and supporters Margaret and Michael Valentine have committed $10 million dollars, the largest one-time gift in Cincinnati Ballet history, to name and memorialize the Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance.
“The Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance will dramatically expand Cincinnati Ballet’s mission to enrich, expand, and excel in the art of dance through performance, a high-caliber academy, and impactful education and community engagement programs,” said Scott Altman, President + CEO. “Cincinnati Ballet has expanded its professional mainstage productions and experienced record-setting growth in enrollment at our Otto M. Budig Academy over the last few years. In fact, we cannot accommodate demand due to full classes. Quite simply, the organization has outgrown its current space. The new ballet center will be an integral arts destination for the community and the region.”
The size of the new ballet center will be dramatically larger, providing ample space for the Company, as well as the Academy and specialized programming. The 57,000-square-foot building will house nine studios. Cincinnati Ballet’s current 36,000-square-foot building, which houses four studios, was built in 1994 and expanded in 2005. Designed by world-renowned architecture firm GBBN, the Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance features a sleek, innovative exterior that boasts panoramic views of downtown Cincinnati from its two largest studios. Messer Construction Co. will serve as construction manager for Cincinnati Ballet, building off its experience with other high-profile arts projects in the region. The new ballet center will be developed in partnership with Neyer Properties. Cincinnati Ballet will continue to stage and perform its professional productions at Cincinnati Music Hall and the Aronoff Center for the Arts.
“This is a huge step forward for Cincinnati Ballet,” said Victoria Morgan, longtime Artistic Director. “The Valentines’ generous gift is so significant and meaningful to the organization. They have a deep commitment to elevating the artistry of dance and its impact on Cincinnati and the region. This generous gift will take our world-class company to even greater heights.” Previously, the Valentines have funded world-premiere, full-length ballets including The Nutcracker, King Arthur’s Camelot, and a recent co-production with Ballet West of Nicolo Fonte’s Carmina Burana. The couple also established a Cincinnati Ballet touring endowment, as well as financial support of Cincinnati Ballet’s Live Music Fund for professional productions.
Cincinnati Ballet is also grateful for a significant gift to the project from Rhonda Sheakley and her husband Larry A. Sheakley. As a permanent commemoration of the Sheakley family’s generosity, the largest Company studio will be named the Rhonda and Larry A. Sheakley Premier Studio. With iconic views of downtown Cincinnati, the impressive, 3,650-square-foot studio will offer ample space for main Company rehearsals and seating for up to 125 guests to view educational demonstrations and Otto M. Budig Academy presentations. The studio may also include performance enhancements such special lighting and sound capabilities. We are honored that Rhonda, an Emeritus Trustee, now co-chairs the building capital campaign, Move With Us. A Campaign for Cincinnati Ballet’s New Home, with fellow Emeritus Trustee Larry Kellar. “This is a huge win for Cincinnati,” said Cincinnati Ballet Board Chair Debbie Brant. “The new ballet center is a significant addition to our region’s rich arts community. It will be a destination for dance lovers from around the world.”
The Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance will also feature:
- Physical Therapy and Training Services — Mercy Heath – Orthopedics and Sports Rehabilitation at Cincinnati Ballet, a roughly 2,500-square-foot space for performing artists, as well as members of the public
- Dedicated Spaces – A dedicated dancer lounge for Company dancers adjacent to an upgraded dressing and changing area and an Academy lounge area, which will feature a quiet space to study and relax between classes
- Expanded Parking – More than 150 parking spaces, doubling parking capacity
- Easier Access — Streamlined drop-off and pick-up for Academy students and guests
More on Cincinnati Ballet’s Record Growth:
In recent years, Cincinnati Ballet has experienced growth organization-wide. Attendance numbers for our professional, mainstage productions have grown from 58,000 during the 2015-2016 Season to 70,400 in the 2018-2019 Season. Cincinnati Ballet also increased the number of performances offerings each season, with added Thursday evening performances and the annual Family Series. During fiscal year 2018-2019, the Otto M. Budig Academy saw a nearly 21% growth in school year enrollment. Enrollment for fiscal year 2019-2020 is already pacing ahead of last year. Enrollment that includes adult and summer programming has seen a steady increase during the last five years. From fiscal year 2017-2018 to 2018-2019, the Academy saw a 17% increase, a number expected to accelerate in a new, larger space as students have been consistently shut-out of sold-out programming. Currently, 92% of children’s division classes are at capacity or have waiting lists. Cincinnati Ballet also expects to greatly expand education and community engagement programming at the new center. Ballet Moves – specialized, on-site classes for students with unique abilities, developed in partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center – would offer expanded classes. The program currently serves students with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism. With more dedicated space, Ballet Moves would grow to serve students in at least 10 populations including the senior community, those with dementia, depression and anxiety, and other physical impairments.
What our Building Partners Are Saying:
Matthew Schottelkotte, GBBN Chief Executive Officer
“The building’s transparency celebrates the activity within. People outside can see what’s going on in the studios. Inside, dancers look out at tremendous views of city. From the lightweight steel and slender columns of the studios, to the way light enters the building, the project captures the strength, grace, and sheer delight of dance. The project’s prominent site along a major city artery is accessible and visible. It sends a clear message to the community, and people passing through the city, about the strength and importance of the arts in Cincinnati.”
Greg Herrin, Vice President and head of Messer’s Cincinnati region
“Messer, and our partner TriVersity Construction, is honored to continue our long-standing relationship with the Cincinnati Ballet and the arts community. This highly visible, iconic building will not only raise the already revered status of the Cincinnati Ballet, but also transform the way our Arts community and, by extension our region, is viewed throughout the country.”
Chris Dobrozsi, Neyer Vice President of Real Estate Development
“Neyer Properties feels this is the right place and the ideal use for the land and compliments the historic Baldwin development. Eden Park and the arts organizations within the park are gems of Cincinnati and deserve a grand entrance. Right now, it’s hard to know the beauty and culture that is there until you are in the thick of it. Adding the Ballet at this site will help establish that sense of arrival to all the arts in the area.”
About Cincinnati Ballet
Since 1963, Cincinnati Ballet has been the cornerstone professional ballet company of the region, presenting a bold and adventurous array of classical, full-length ballets and contemporary works. Under the artistic direction of Victoria Morgan, Cincinnati Ballet has become a creative force within the larger dance community, commissioning world premiere works and exploring unique collaborations. With a mission to inspire hope and joy in our community and beyond through the power and passion of dance, Cincinnati Ballet reaches beyond the stage in programs that allow every person in the region to be part of the continued evolution of dance through exhilarating performances, extensive education outreach programs and top-level professional ballet training at Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy.
Cincinnati Ballet 2019-2020 Season Sponsors: Rhonda & Larry A. Sheakley, ArtsWave, Mercy Health, Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund, Ohio Arts Council, John A. Schroth Family Charitable Trust, Frisch’s Big Boy, Knowlton