Updated March 25 at 6:26pm

Management change at the Festival Ballet of Rhode Island; eight resign from board


PROVIDENCE – Hopes are high that the Festival Ballet of Rhode Island will stay afloat despite a sudden shake-up at the management level and a “fragile” financial state that has the board of directors restructuring the organization to avoid entering receivership.

Former Executive Director Alison Cariati suddenly resigned Monday due to what published reports describe as differences over the creative direction of the company and unspecified personnel issues. Seven board members also resigned at the same time.

Don E. Wineberg, a board member who is now Festival spokesman, today provided an update for Providence Business News. He said the financial state of Festival Ballet is “fragile” and the board is taking various steps to avoid entering receivership. “The best thing the community can do to help,” he said, “is to come out and see this company of excellent dancers that we’ve put together.”

The group tried to work with an expanded budget this year in what Wineberg called “an aggressive, risk-taking” spending proposal that “we now realize we won’t be able to meet,” he said. The group’s budget is $1.8 million, Wineberg said.

An interim management committee has been formed to oversee operations, Wineberg said, and to work on restructuring the budget and other financial considerations. The interim committee will remain in charge until a managing director is found to replace Cariati, who had just finished her first year at Festival. New board members also will be recruited, Wineberg said, and the show will go on.

The ballet group is scheduled to do more performances than last year’s 36 shows, Wineberg said, and ongoing plans to contract with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra to be Festival’s house orchestra continue, needing only to be finalized. The satellite schools that Festival opened early this month in East Greenwich and the Rumford section of East Providence are open and operating, he said. A performance of “Carmen,” slated for next month, has been postponed to February.

“I can’t promise anything,” Wineberg said when asked about the possibility of receivership. “But our hope and our expectation is very positive and we are confident that Festival Ballet will continue.”


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