PITTSBURGH, PA – As part of Pennsylvania’s 2013 Economic Growth Initiative grants, Governor Tom Corbett announced today that Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will receive $1 million to fund the construction of a new annex building at the company’s Strip District campus.
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The $1 million Economic Growth grant will bring PBT to 43% of its total $14 million goal for the PBT School Expansion Project, a four-phase plan to accommodate rising enrollment trends in the company’s official training institution. The grant will advance the fourth phase of the project this spring when PBT breaks ground at its recently-purchased adjoining lot – 2930 Liberty Ave. – to begin significant site improvements, including leveling and retaining projects, for the future footprint of the annex building. Under Phase IV, PBT will construct a 17,000 square foot building, which will house three new dance studios to expand PBT School’s four training divisions, grow community-based programs and generate at least 13 permanent artistic and administrative jobs. PBT has retained IKM Architects, which has developed a preliminary design for the $10 million Phase IV building project based on input from stakeholders.
With a total enrollment of 1,000 students across its Children’s, Student, Pre-Professional and Adult divisions, PBT School conducts classes six days a week at PBT Studios in the Strip District, which sees more than 2,000 weekly visits from employee, student and family commuters through the school and company. In the past five years, PBT School has increased Children’s Division enrollment by 92 percent while Student Division enrollment has grown by 53 percent in the past two years. Overall, the new building would allow PBT School to increase enrollment by nearly 60 percent to 1,590 students.
The Economic Growth Initiative program provides grants to local communities for the construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. PBT’s School Expansion project is among 58 projects state-wide to receive Commonwealth funding through the program. PBT has raised $6 million to date for the four-phase project, and will be matching the RACP award at a ratio of at least 4 to 1 through other funding sources.
“In addition to our full-time company dancers, a significant number of PBT School students from around the country and world move to Pittsburgh to take part in our training program. This new space will allow us to continue accepting and recruiting the next generation of professional dancers to Pittsburgh, and it will also help us to broaden our community programs to increase accessibility to the art form,” said PBT Executive Director Harris Ferris. “We see this surge in enrollment as promising not only for the future of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, but also as a positive trend for the city’s thriving cultural community. Our full-time artists and professional-track students not only make Pittsburgh their home, but they also bring hundreds of friends and family members to the city each year to contribute to the downtown and Strip District economies while visiting Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.”
PBT launched its four-phase School Expansion Plan in 2009 with the opening of PBT School’s first student residence, Byham House, which houses up to 21 full-time Pre-Professional Division students and helps to draw aspiring young dancers to Pittsburgh each year. Phase I also included the installation of five new Harlequin floors in the PBT Studios to benefit the safety and health of PBT company and student dancers. In 2012, PBT completed Phase II by opening a renovated lobby with expanded family waiting areas and student study space to accommodate rising enrollment and the need for more public space in the building. Also in 2012, PBT purchased its neighboring lot at 2930 Liberty Avenue, increased its campus footprint to 60,000 square feet and constructed a new parking lot to improve traffic flow and reduce the need for families and students to cross traffic-heavy Liberty Avenue from PBT’s overflow parking lot. The new building will mark the fourth and final phase in the PBT School Expansion Project.
In addition to PBT School, the PBT’s Strip District Studios currently house five fully-equipped studios for PBT’s professional company of 29 full-time dancers – including eight international dancers – who live and work in Pittsburgh year-round. Throughout the season, PBT also hosts a number of community engagement events at the Studios for patrons, educators, community organizations and supporters.
PBT School’s 2013-2014 enrollment includes 61 out-of-state students and 14 international students, who have relocated to Pittsburgh to enroll in the full-time high school and graduate programs of PBT School’s Pre-Professional Division. In addition to the regular school year, PBT School brings 165 to 200 students to Pittsburgh each summer to participate in its five-week Intensive Summer Program, an immersive training program taught by PBT faculty and prominent guest artists.
About Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is a community based and internationally recognized professional ballet company that performs traditional and contemporary ballets and develops innovative works. It seeks to perpetuate excellence in the art of ballet through performances, superior training of student dancers and community engagement initiatives. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 2013-2014 Season continues with Swan Lake with the Orchestra, Feb. 13-16 at the Benedum Center; 3×3, March 7-16, at the August Wilson Center; and Don Quixote with the Orchestra, April 11-13, at the Benedum Center. Tickets start at $25.75 and are available online at www.pbt.org, by calling 412-456-6666 or visiting the Box Office at Theater Square.
About Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School
As the official training institution of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School is recognized as one of the nation’s finest schools for dance education and training. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr and School Directors Marjorie Grundvig and Dennis Marshall, PBT School offers classical ballet training and a diverse dance curriculum to more than 1,000 students of all ages, levels and degrees of interest taught by faculty and guest teachers of international acclaim. Strengthened by daily exposure to PBT’s professional company of dancers, PBT School provides dance training through Children’s, Student, Pre-Professional and Adult Open divisions.