1961-2021 – Celebrating 60 Years!
July 29, 2020
From the Desk of William Starrett:
Sixty years, can you believe it? Columbia City Ballet is proudly celebrating our 60th Anniversary Performance Season. It is my distinct honor to be entering my 34th year as Artistic Director, and in my dual role as Executive Director, I couldn’t possibly be any prouder of the incredible accomplishments of this organization.
Most of you know that I began my association with Columbia City Ballet as a guest artist, in the days that we performed in venues like the Keenan High School Auditorium. It is both awe inspiring and humbling to know that today we are a fully professional company, employing professional dancers from across the globe. We now maintain a touring schedule which is the envy of much larger professional companies, and we have had the pleasure of performing to audiences in cities, such as Washington, D.C. and Chicago, garnering critical acclaim at every juncture of our path.
I cannot begin to express my joy at the prestige Columbia City Ballet has attained over the years without acknowledging the current situation we all find ourselves in due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. These are strange and unprecedented times for all of us. The constantly changing landscape forced upon us by the pandemic may require us to make adjustments throughout our Performance Season, but I want you to know that I, and my staff, are prepared to do whatever is necessary to make this anniversary year a reflection of our commitment to excellence and to our community. I want to personally thank all of you who have stood firmly by our side thus far, and to encourage you to continue to support us as we bring our art to the public this season.
I want to briefly reflect upon some of the incredible milestones we have marked over the past 60 years. When I became Artistic Director, our annual budget was $125,000; today it averages around $1.5 million dollars each year. We are now the largest performing arts organization in the State of South Carolina, and we tour to an average of fifteen cities each performance season. One of the things I am most proud of is our Educational Outreach Series. Through these performances, designed specifically as educational components, we present our art to more than 15,000 South Carolina students each season. All these achievements are made possible by the financial support of our season members, corporate partners, foundation grants, and public funding. I want to personally thank you for your contributions to our work and assure you that every dollar invested in Columbia City Ballet is deeply appreciated.
I cannot possibly adequately express my gratitude to all of you for allowing us to speak loudly and conscientiously through the presentation of our art.
This year, you are going to see the same high artistic and production standards now synonymous with Columbia City Ballet whether we are performing at the Koger Center or somewhere in a vacant lot. I am continually amazed and inspired by the phenomenal wealth of talent Columbia City Ballet attracts, and I am exceedingly proud of the accomplishments of all Columbia City Ballet Alumni. I want to, again, thank you from the very depths of my heart for being my source of strength, inspiration, and for sustaining Columbia City Ballet for the past 60 years.
To every current and past patron, volunteer, board member, dancer, and staff member, I want to say thank you for 60 years of being a part of our family. I’m certain you’ll unite with me in saying, “Here’s to the next 60 years!” Now, join me in the celebration of our 60th Year Anniversary, already in progress.
With Devotion and Affection,
Artistic and Executive Director