The crisis-torn American Ballet Theater tonight secured enough loan pledges from its board members so that the company can proceed with its scheduled season. It fell short, however, of raising all of the $2 million it needs.
ABT's season begins in Washington in December with a $1.1 million world premiere production of "Cinderella" at the Kennedy Center.
Also last night, ABT artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov agreed to stay on through the end of the upcoming season. He is no longer under contract to the company, but the board issued a statement saying ABT is "totally committed to all of Baryshnikov's artistic policies . . . "
Funds for next week's payroll were privately secured, officials said.
In five hours of emergency meetings, dissidents on the board and the other members agreed to put aside their differences in light of the prospect that a showdown might force ABT to cancel its season.
Board chairman Donald Kendall, who is also chairman of Pepsico, didn't show up for the meetings. He resigned and notified the board by letter, officials said.
The board said it will ask Kendall to reconsider his departure. Meanwhile, Melville Straus, chairman of the executive committee, was chosen as the acting chairman.
ABT executive director Herman E. Krawitz, who had been under strong pressure from the dissident members to resign, also did not attend the emergency sessions, but learned afterward that he continues to hold his position. Earlier, Krawitz had told friends he anticipated he might have to withdraw.
No other management changes were announced.
One board member tonight called ABT's announcement of its suppport for Baryshnikov's policies "a bloody public show of unity to buy us time."
Personal guarantees for a substantial portion of ABT's urgently needed $2 million bank loan were secured, although some were not in writing; ABT said it is continuing to seek additional loan guarantees and funds.
Krawitz declined to comment, but ABT general manager Charles Dillingham said "Baryshnikov's agreement is, for the very least, through the end of the Met season" here in June. "It's an agreement but there is no contract."
The board's statement acknowledged that "the company has not dissolved all of its financial problems . . . but Baryshnikov has promised to see the company through its difficult times . . . "
"In doing so," according to the board statement, Baryshnikov told ABT, "My first consideration is this great American institution . . . I will try to do everything possible to help the company over the present hurdle . . . "
But at the Metropolitan Opera, general manager Anthony A. Bliss seemed to indicate the Met may have lost some confidence in ABT's ability to guarantee its upcoming season.
"In light of what has been going on, we'd have to be satisfied that they could produce" on what ABT promised for its eight-week spring season in Manhattan.
"We want ABT to pull themselves out of this" and return solid and solvent to the Met, Bliss said. He said the Met had been surprised by the severity of ABT's problems.