A Year for The History Books!
Resilience, innovation and unparalleled artistry propel IMC forward!
The afternoon of March 13, 2020 everything changed. A statewide stay-at-home order was issued. Rhode Island had now joined many other states throughout the U.S. Fear, uncertainty, anger, annoyance, helplessness, denial and so many other emotions surfaced. A question remained, “How can IMC help?”
This question tested the creativity and flexibility of our organization, staff & artists. Thankfully, years of perseverance prevailed. We found that the answer to our question was, “IMC can help in many ways.” In fact, months later IMC would find itself advancing its mission and connecting with audience members using media never imagined before.
What IMC did:
Expanded Access: IMC focused first on our NAB students. Our intention was to offer more classes to more people, so a virtual element was added through Facebook Live, Instagram, and YouTube. We created “Climb the Walls and Dance” – an appropriately named complimentary, virtual series offering our community stimulating content, and ways to connect with each other, as well as to help them stay fit & healthy. It also allowed us to minimize staff furloughs and provided company dancers and our teaching artists with some of their teaching income.
When the weather turned warmer IMC hosted free, outdoor salsa classes every Saturday in addition to its pop-up performance series, “Where in Newport is IMC?” which offered free, weekly performances in Newport’s beautiful public parks., July- Sep.
When the Governors’ phase 3 reopen plan was implemented, IMC pivoted again, developing an original, innovative short dance film Out Of Ruin. The film was shot at multiple locations across Newport County and premiered at Cardines Field in a unique outdoor screening. IMC produced eMerge!, a breathtaking selection of new and restaged dances at Blithewold Gardens & Arboretum in Bristol, in October.
Finally, IMC’s beloved holiday favorite, was reimagined as a short Feature Film. Through Her Eyes – A Newport Nutcracker Reimagined Premiered on Rhode Island PBS-TV 36, through a new partnership that broadened IMC’s Statewide profile.
Other Notable Organizational developments
- Presented the first-ever, virtual– Annual Gala: Nuit Blanche; Tous Reunis, which netted $70K and reached new viewers from around the country.
- A Virtual Curator’s Circle Luncheon attracted over 30 patrons—our largest ever for the annual meeting!
- Adopted new Sep-Aug FY cycle, beginning Sep. 2021to realign contract & production seasons.
- Succession planning for AD underway, Miki to retire 2022.
- New 3-yr strategic plan process deployed in 2021.
Operations & Fiscal:
- Completed first-ever comprehensive Audit which produced a clean review by auditors.
- Hired new School Director.
- Ended FY-20 with significant net- retained earnings.
- Increased foundation grants by over 89% ($255K) over 2019 (does not include Covid grants)
- Exceeded annual fund goals.
- FY 21 & 22 planning (40th Anniversary/New Building opening)
Among the most gratifying outcomes of what would otherwise would have been a difficult year, was hearing from our patrons, parents, and students on what IMC meant to them. The following letter in particular was a highlight!
I cannot say enough about what the IMC and NAB community has meant to our daughters (16 and 18) and our family during the covid pandemic. When things were abruptly shut down in March, NAB very quickly shifted to remote dance classes which was not an easy task. While dancing via Zoom is not anyone’s first choice, everyone made the very best out of a non-ideal situation. It meant so much to our girls to have some amount of continuity and human interaction during such an unsure time. I would often be in the background and would overhear the classes and I was so moved by how excited the teachers were to see and interact with their students and genuinely missed them. I also loved at the beginning or end of each class when most of them took a few minutes to check in with the students and give them a chance to say how they are doing and just share and connect. This level of care was so invaluable at a time when the world was in such an unsure state. As has always been the case in the 10+ years that our girls have been a part of this amazing community, IMC and NAB are not just there to teach them to dance (although they do this beautifully), but the company and teachers are all interested in being mentors and a support system to these young dancers. It has always been their mission along with instilling in them a love of dancing to also teach them about how to be wonderful and caring members of a community as well.
We also attended the premiere of the amazing film Out of Ruin. I cannot fully express what it meant after months of being isolated in our homes to be back amongst this community and enjoying a beautiful work of art. As the dancers came out into the open sunshine and reconnected on the big screen, I had tears in my eyes as this art spoke to all of us about our shared experience of quarantining. The next weekend we enjoyed the eMerge performance outdoors at the beautiful Blithewold Mansion. We have always appreciated IMC’s unique artistry and creativity in choosing performance spaces, but at this moment in time, it was such a gift to be able to share in the art that was happening on the stage. Between these performances and the Where in Newport is IMC daytime performances throughout the summer, we were so thankful for the incredible efforts that IMC put into figuring out create ways to continue to share the beauty of art with a community that was sorely in need of it.
By the summer, NAB had worked hard to work out how to reopen classes in a safe way given all of the COVID restrictions. I was constantly impressed with how much thought and work went into sanitizing, working out how to have enough social distanced space between students, and setting up a system of complete transparency so that parents and students could feel completely safe. We always knew that if they were offering classes, that they would be carried out with the utmost caution and precision.
As we moved into Fall, IMC pleasantly surprised us once again by coming up with a way to still include these young dancers in the Nutcracker tradition, which for our girls is one of the foremost memories of their childhood. For over ten years, we have spent two intense weeks in beautiful Rosecliff Mansion in rehearsals and performances, our girls as dancers moving up the ranks of parts from mice to sugarplums and myself as a volunteer. I have often relayed to Miki Olsen, the artistic director, that the ability to share this amazing experience with our daughters is one of the true joys of my life and I am so thankful to IMC for allowing us to be a part of this most magical performance. We were all feeling a bit sad when we heard that it would not be happening, though not surprised as the kids are quite close to each other as they get ready together in the basement of Rosecliff. And then, once again, IMC came through for us when a couple of weeks later we got the news that there would be a Nutcracker film and our girls would be able to be a part of it. As always, every precaution was put in place to have everyone social distancing as much as possible and wearing masks during rehearsals and then getting tested right before filming so that they can perform without masks. Our girls have been so thrilled to still have Nutcracker be a part of their year and in a year when so many life events have been missed, we could not be more grateful to IMC for thinking about how to continue to give these young dancers an opportunity to perform and be valued members of this artistic community.