The American Ballet Theatre currently does not have the funds to present its upcoming season, an ABT spokesman confirmed today.
As a result, some board members privately have been calling for severe financial cutbacks and the resignations of some key employes--including the company's highest-ranking salaried official, Executive Director Herman E. Krawitz--before they obtain bank loans to finance the season, ABT sources added.
Thus, for the second year in a row, ABT's Kennedy Center season could be in jeopardy.
As a result of these internal disputes, ABT officials who asked not to be named said the ballet's board chairman, Donald Kendall has stated he will offer to resign next week. The decision, however, was not characterized as "final."
ABT general manager Charles Dillingham confirmed that a special meeting of the ballet's board has been called for Thursday.
ABT Executive Director Krawitz has been contacted by some board members and asked to give up his position, sources close to both Krawitz and his opposition said.
The board members "felt this is one of the solutions" to ABT's problems, Dillingham said. But Dillingham added today that Krawitz continued to hold the position.
Krawitz declined to comment on the ABT crisis, on the group of board members who want him to resign or on his future with the ballet.
Kendall did not respond today to efforts to reach him at the headquarters of Pepsico, where he is chairman. He has publicly said he must devote more time to Pepsico operations, and he is believed to have no great desire to become embroiled in a fight at ABT.
ABT's financial crisis, ironically, stems from its past strength--box office revenues in previous years, which had been relied upon to help provide adequate income. The ballet's board, therefore, had not been under great pressure to raise ever-increasing sums to offset increasing expenses.
But this past season, ABT acknowledged it had suffered a decline in box office business in most cities on its annual cross-country tour. In addition, ABT lost money during its exceptionally long 11-week spring-summer engagement at Lincoln Center.
In previous seasons the company's Lincoln Center and Los Angeles engagements generated such strong box office business that ABT made a profit on both engagements.
The New York season was simply "a disaster," one board member said, and the company's reserve fund was depleted to cover the unexpected losses.
An ABT official said that now, with little cash on hand and a need for approximately $2 million to present its 1983-84 season--rehearsals are scheduled to begin Sept. 20--either ABT's board must quickly raise the money or board members must personally guarantee bank loans to the company.
Such personal loan guarantees are common in the often deficit-financed world of major, nonprofit performing arts organizations.
The artistic decisions and leadership of ABT have come under enormous criticism recently in such publications as Ballet News, the New York Post and the Los Angeles Times.
This past season ABT lost three of its scheduled four weeks at the Kennedy Center because of a labor dispute with its dancers. The dancers eventually forced the ballet company to grant them wage increases averaging 54 percent over a four-year period. The settlement has angered a number of board members.
Also, because of the labor dispute, ABT canceled its long-awaited visit to Paris and postponed its new, full-evening $1.1 million production of the ballet "Cinderella," which is now being choreographed by ABT artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov and Peter Anastos.
This new work is expected to run at the Kennedy Center--if the company solves its crisis--for two weeks in December, replacing the annual presentation of "The Nutcracker" in ABT's four-week Washington visit.