The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and Madison Ballet have been awarded a $30,000 Community Impact grant from Madison Community Foundation to explore an innovative shared resource business model for the two organizations. The award will fund a comprehensive feasibility study that will assess the resources of each organization and identify opportunities for efficiency and growth.

Madison Ballet and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, both well-established arts organizations, have long been providing world-class performances and creative programming in the community. But as competition for non-profit funding increases, these two organizations are looking for creative business solutions to maintain excellence, support program growth, and ensure long-term sustainability.

“We are so pleased that Madison Community Foundation is supporting this project,” says Madison Ballet’s General Manager Gretchen Bourg. “All businesses—especially those in the non-profit sector—are realizing the need for new models for success and sustainability. This study is an exciting first step toward a truly innovative way of serving our community.”

The feasibility study represents Phase 1 of a larger project that could result in a business model in which the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and Madison Ballet share key administrative functions, minimizing redundant costs and leveraging each organization’s unique strengths. Each would retain the signature artistic and outreach programs for which they are known.

Mark Cantrell, CEO of the WCO says “This grant provides a wonderful opportunity to explore ways for our two organizations to come together to help build a better community.”

“I have worked together with Earle [Smith] for the past 16 years. We arrived in Madison within a year of each other and have always maintained an excellent artistic and working relationship”, says Andrew Sewell, music director of the WCO. “Our two organizations have performed together for their annual Nutcracker performances, as well as collaborated on special projects such as the Halloween concert, Concerts on the Square® and most recently the Tenth Anniversary concert of Overture Center. I’m excited to explore the benefits this unique arts organizational model may represent for both groups.”

Madison Ballet’s Artistic Director, W. Earle Smith, echoes support for the project: “I am very grateful to the Madison Community Foundation for this opportunity to find better ways to engage our audiences and support our artists.”

The boards of directors of Madison Ballet and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra expect to select a consulting firm to conduct the study by the end of May. Data from the study will be used to identify next steps in strategic planning for long-term sustainability.

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, led by Maestro Andrew Sewell, is a vibrant and thriving professional orchestra dedicated to advancing Wisconsin communities through the transformative power of music.  The WCO performs for over 240,000 people per year, including Concerts on the Square®, Masterworks, Holiday Pops, Handel’s Messiah, Youth Concerts, and other performances across the state.  For more information, visit wcoconcerts.org.

Madison Ballet touches the lives of 50,000 individuals in the community each year through engaging outreach programs and unforgettable performances. Their annual presentation of The Nutcracker remains an essential part of many families’ holiday traditions, and they have broken new ground with innovative productions like the original rock ballet, Dracula. The School of Madison Ballet is one of the premier training academies in the Midwest, providing quality dance education for dancers of all ages. For more information, visit madisonballet.org.