With $60 Million Gift, San Francisco Ballet Plans Focus on New Works

San Francisco Ballet has a vibrant new artistic director: the celebrated Spanish dancer Tamara Rojo. And the company has had a relatively strong recovery from the pandemic, with ticket sales recently approaching pre-Covid levels.

Now San Francisco Ballet has received a groundbreaking gift: It announced on Thursday that it had secured a $60 million contribution from an anonymous donor, the largest in the company’s 91-year history and one of the biggest ever to an American dance company.

“It was, for me, an enormous surprise,” Rojo, who joined the company in 2022, said in an interview. “The impact is immeasurable.”

The vast majority of the gift, $50 million, will be used to bolster the company’s endowment, currently valued at about $108 million, and to help finance the creation and acquisition of new works. The remaining $10 million will be used to help cover operating costs in Rojo’s first few seasons.

Rojo said the donation would allow the company to achieve its aim of creating modern classics.

“It’s a gift of new creativity — a gift of the lifeblood of what a ballet company is and has always been,” she said.

San Francisco Ballet, with a budget of about $55 million, hopes the gift will help the company move beyond a series of challenges. The pandemic brought financial strains — ticket sales fell to about $18 million in the fiscal year that ended in June 2022, down from about $22 million in the year that ended in June 2019. Sales have recovered more recently, reaching about $21 million in the fiscal year that ended in June.

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