Securing the future of one of the world’s greatest ballet companies

[Image: Guiliano Contadini, Hannah Bateman & Northern Ballet dancers in The Great Gatsby. Photo by Bill Cooper]


In 2015, Northern Ballet will be celebrating its 45th anniversary after years of continued success. The company has recently been awarded additional Arts Council funding for the next three years (2015-2018) and will continue to play its important role on the touring circuit, reaching large audiences across the country.

Over its past 45 years, Northern Ballet has become a renowned and well-respected dance organisation, moving from Manchester to Leeds in 2010 and establishing itself as ‘Northern Ballet’ – losing its previous name ‘Northern Ballet Theatre’. Under its current Artistic Director David Nixon and Chief Exec. Mark Skipper, the company has gone from strength to strength. In recent reviews, Arts Council England state that Northern Ballet is excellent value for money and exemplary in its efficiency and use of resources.

Travel back three years however, and it was a different story. In 2011, funding cuts declared that Northern Ballet see a 15% deduction in its funding for the 2012-2015 period. This threatened the loss of approximately 10 dancers from the company as the pressure mounted for the company to generate higher levels of sponsorship.

As a result, the Sponsor a Dancer campaign was born in October 2011. Still going strong today, individuals and organisations can donate anything from £30 to £10,000 to sponsor a dancer within the company. The campaign set out to guarantee a positive future for the company’s dancers and to ensure Northern Ballet retained its 40-strong company.


The campaign aims to nurture and maintain a continued development programme for young talented dancers. Fewer dancers would have meant fewer shows of poorer quality – something Northern Ballet certainly don’t stand for. Fundraising events and activities for the campaign have helped considerably: The Big Give in Christmas 2012 helped double donations.

London-based Arts organisations are those most often aided by private investment and the Sponsor a Dancer campaign has been seen to encourage donations to Northern Ballet, helping the company to generate their own income through private investment. Between its launch in October 2011 and June 2013, the Sponsor a Dancer campaign raised more than £500,000 in private investment.

Trusts and Foundations have been much more open to supporting a range of activities, including dancers’ salaries, touring costs and new work.Mark Skipper, Chief Exec.

Individuals can also donate. For as little as a £30 sponsor, you will receive a signed picture of a dancer of your choice, a letter from your chosen dancer and an invitation to a sponsors’ event to meet the dancers.


CINDERELLA; NORTHERN BALLET,Cinderella; Martha Leebolt,Prince Mikhail;	Tobias Batley ,Young Cinderella;	Antoinette Brooks-Daw, Nikolai; Giuliano Contadini,Katya; Dreda Blow,                            Count Serebrenishka, Cinderella’s Father; Hironao Takahashi,                             Countess Serebrenishka, Cinderella’s Step-Mother;	Pippa Moore,  Natasha and Sofia, Cinderella’s Step-Sisters; Hannah Bateman, Michela Paolacci,                           Young Prince Mikhail;	Kevin Poeung                      Prince and Princess Mulakov, Mikhail’s Mother & Father; Jessica Morgan, Darren Goldsmith The Magician;	Hironao Takahashi ,

Northern Ballet dancers Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley in David Nixon’s Cinderella. Photo Bill Cooper


The creative and interactive nature of the Sponsor a Dancer campaign has helped raise the profile of Northern Ballet and has allowed the company to successfully adapt to the various challenges it has faced. It actively interacts with its audience to ensure longevity into the 21st century and to continue nurturing the talents of the company’s current and future dancers.

Learning from its success, Northern Ballet continues to implement other creative ways of securing the company’s future. Their recently launched Graduate Programme offers 10 inspiring young dancers a year’s training with the company – acting as a link between full-time training and professional performance; Take a Seat allows you to have a personalised inscription etched on to one of the Studio Theatre’s seats as well as an invitation to take a tour around the impressive building; becoming a Friend of the company offers behind-the-scenes insights, a day at the studios, access to rehearsals and a complimentary programme; and becoming a member of the Director’s Circle provides an opportunity to engage with the company on a more personal level, working with the dancers and creative team.

Northern Ballet is truly an ambitious world-class organisation and continues to thrive as one of the world’s greatest ballet companies.

There are various ways to donate to the Sponsor a Dancer campaign. You can email [email protected] or phone 0113 220 8000 for more information, but alternatively, visit the Northern Ballet website for more details on this and other ways in which to support the company –

Amanda Lynsdale

Filed under: Theatre & Dance

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