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Casey Herd for Ballet Rising

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Ballet Rising — Grant Report #2 (Final)

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Project Update

The past year has provided a unique opportunity for Ballet Rising to accomplish our goal of bridging the arts world and the digital world. With the onset of the pandemic, arts performances were suddenly forced to take place online--audience members quickly turned to the web to keep up with their favorite art forms and performers. Since our founding, Ballet Rising has been an advocate for using digital technologies to increase arts access to new potential dance audience members, to boost potential revenues for companies and performers, and to connect disbursed dance communities around the world. The pandemic gave us an opportunity to accelerate this work.

During this grant period, we launched a new website with Coil monetization features that is more user-friendly and simplified and allows our readers to quickly view our film and written content, as well as bonus content. In addition to our already existing content, we have published 11 new videocasts, 3 new films, and 7 articles. These films and articles explore ballet around the world in locations like Syria, Nigeria, Brazil, Tunisia, and elsewhere. We are proud to have used our voice to bring new audiences to ballet communities in “non-ballet-centric” parts of the world.

Progress on objectives

Objective One: Create exciting content about global ballet

Ballet Rising has successfully published a wide variety of films and written content about global ballet, including articles on ballet leaders, teachers, performers, and students in places like Nigeria, South Africa, Syria, Israel, Tunisia, Switzerland, Brazil, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and others. We've also published several pieces of bonus content to continue to introduce our audience to web monetization.

We filmed video content remotely, but we hope in the future, beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, to film this work on site.

Objective Two: Connect “peripheral” ballet communities to “central” communities

Through our reporting and with the extensive network of our founder Casey Herd, a well-known former principal dancer with the Dutch National Ballet, we are supporting and assisting the various leaders and ballet community members we have met by providing them access to our connections and resources to “central” ballet communities. We have been especially successful in working with Brazilian, Central American, and Nigeria ballet leaders to help provide access and much-needed publicity. For example, our close partner Esther Oladipupo, the founder of the Association of Ballet Teachers of Nigeria was able to run a successful book and DVD donation campaign (soliciting donations from global ballet leaders and fans) to support her students and fellow teachers in part because of the publicity we were able to bring her in advance of the campaign.

Objective Three: Advocate for diversity in the ballet world

At Ballet Rising, we believe that people of all body types, skin colors, and backgrounds should be able to be part of the ballet community in a full-fledged way. Our ballet content has demonstrated a constant commitment to this principle, both through the diversity of people we interview, but also through the actual content we discuss through the written word and film. For example, see this article about Nigerian dance leader Nikhita Winkler for a discussion about the “ideal ballet body” and how that shapes young Nigerian students’ perspectives on their own bodies. Or, view this interview of Syrian ballet dancer Ahmad Joudeh, who discusses how a difficult political situation and massive social unrest challenged his ability to gain access to training and teachers in the ballet community.

Objective Four: Advocate for a new monetization strategy for the performing arts.

As discussed in our project update above, the pandemic provides an unexpected opportunity for Ballet Rising to make progress on this objective since millions of dance fans were forced out of necessity to turn to the web in mass to get new dance content. We capitalized on this opportunity by attracting new fans through free content and then educating our fan base about the potential of web monetization. We published an extensive article explaining our views and aspirations for growing the performing arts sector via new monetization strategies on Coil. We also produced a special videocast on the subject with fellow grantees Briana Stuart and Greg Hannam to encourage more people from the arts to get involved.

Key activities

Since our last report we have continued to publish articles and videocasts; increased our social media communications on Instagram, with the goal of significantly growing our following; marketed our bonus (paid) content and ramped up the amount of Ballet Rising bonus content available; completed and produced in-person interviews and written articles; and written an article about web monetization for the arts. We have also continued our email outreach through newsletters and accompanying monthly quizzes and growing our social media followers.

What’s next?

First, we will meet as a team to assess our work during the grant period to identify what was most successful and what requires more work or a new strategy. Our goal will be to adjust our strategy where necessary in order to increase our number of readers and followers.

With these changes in place, we will continue to produce free and monetized film and written content. Our writer will likely begin to focus more time on ballet developments in South America and the Middle East. We also hope to begin filming content on site soon as vaccinations become more widespread globally.

Finally, we will continue to be active members in the web monetization community and to encourage ballet leaders, dancers, and artists around the world to take advantage of web monetization and other digital tools to expand their reach. Part and parcel of this goal is to use our voice to advocate for communities who lack access in the ballet world to help them in particular take advantage of these tools to increase their reach.

What community support would benefit your project?

We are so grateful for the opportunity provided by Grant for the Web funding. As we move forward, we hope to connect with leaders in the arts industry beyond dance alone. We would love to develop relationships with leaders in visual arts, music, theater, literature, and other artistic communities in order to strengthen and support the artistic sector’s ability to benefit from digital and web monetization strategies. We welcome any connection and collaboration with members of the arts community and in general.
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Top comments (3)

chrislarry profile image
Chris Lawrence

What a journey from Amsterdam 2019 to you filing this report!!!

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Casey Herd

Man its been a wild ride! I first saw the announcement about the grant when I was in Brazil filming the first videocast. From meeting you, Dees and Stefan at ViewSource 19 to now has been an incredible experience! Thank you so much @chrislarry @erikad @ayeshaware @cyberdees and everybody on the grant team and in the community! Let's keep on BUILDING!

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Erica Hargreave

Love what you are doing with all of this, Casey. Looking forward to editing and publishing your interview in the month ahead.