How did it all start?
American Midwest Ballet began as Ballet Nebraska, a grassroots organization in 2009, and has steadily grown into a key cultural asset in the region. The people behind American Midwest Ballet have given their lifeblood for the past decade, and have created a wonderful professional company that the community can be proud of.
Why did you change your name?
As a reflection of the company’s increasing stature as a regional asset, the company rebranded under the new name American Midwest Ballet during its 2018-2019 Season. We’ve always been a presence in both Omaha and Council Bluffs, and this name more fully reflects our identity.
What is the latest big news?
We have moved into our stunning new home! American Midwest Ballet is thrilled to be the resident dance company of the Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center.
For the past three years, the company has been running an operating support campaign to strengthen core operations by investing in staff and dancer infrastructure. The company is grateful to its many supporters who are making this possible, including major operating gifts from the Iowa West Foundation, the Fred and Eve Simon Charitable Foundation, the Richard Brooke Foundation, the Holland Foundation, the Peter Kiewit Foundation, and the Nebraska Arts Council.
Who is making this possible?
Pottawattamie Arts, Culture and Entertainment (PACE) is an Iowa West Foundation Initiative. In partnership with the nonprofit organization PACE, the Iowa West Foundation announced plans for the new arts center in August 2016. The initiative has transformed the empty Harvester II Building into a destination for art, theater, and entertainment.
Leadership gifts for this $26.8M project include a $9M gift from the Iowa West Foundation, a $2M gift from Ted and Polly Hoff, a $1M gift from Polina and Bob Schlott, a $1M grant from Enhance Iowa and additional major gifts from regional foundations along with the generous support of many community members.
What’s the benefit for American Midwest Ballet?
The new arts center provides a state-of-the-art facility that allows the ballet to consolidate its rehearsal, costume and scenic construction, and administrative functions under one roof. It also gives the company access to a fully-equipped onsite theater, the Polina and Bob Schlott Performing Arts Center. This creates a number of logistical efficiencies for the company, which until recently juggled the challenges of working in various borrowed spaces.
All of these improvements help us be more efficient and productive. They will let us concentrate even more of our energy on our primary mission: bringing high-quality ballet to the region.
Does this mean you are leaving Omaha?
Not at all! We’ll still be performing at the Orpheum Theater, collaborating with Joslyn Art Museum, and working with our community partners including Omaha Performing Arts, Omaha Symphony, Opera Omaha, Omaha Public Schools, and numerous social service agencies. We’ve been active in both Nebraska and Iowa from the very beginning, and the new center helps us maintain and strengthen our activities on both sides of the river..
What changes can audiences expect to see?
Any changes you’ll see are positive. You can expect to see even more beautiful costumes and sets at our performances in both Omaha and Council Bluffs. And we are able to be part of the exciting interdisciplinary and community programs that the center will host with us, other partners, and the community..
Who else is involved?
In addition to the ballet, other residents of the Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center include: PACE, which will operate the facility and provide arts programming, as well as lend expertise and support to other arts and culture organizations in the areas of marketing, fundraising, and administration; Chanticleer Theater, a long-established community theater offering musicals, plays, and children’s theater workshops; and Kitchen Council, a kitchen incubator for food startups to grow their business, spearheaded by the Iowa West Foundation and the Greater Omaha Chamber under the umbrella of its regional economic development partnership.
The facility will also feature art exhibitions, a large event space with a cafe and bar, music lessons, visual art classes, and performances by Kanesville Symphony, as well as archival storage for several area museums.
How can I keep up with what’s happening?
We look forward to having all of our supporters with us as we take this exciting next step into the next decade as the region’s resident professional dance company.