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Nutcracker cancellation upsetting to ballet company [Letter to the editor]

DanceCredit and Debt

Editor:

The Board of Directors of Harford Ballet Company (HBC) is deeply saddened by the news that Harford County Public Schools chose to cancel all weekend activities for Dec. 14/15 and therefore forced HBC to cancel the much anticipated Harford Ballet Company Nutcracker. Harford Ballet Company was not consulted nor did the Company have any input to the decision.

Out of concern for our patrons, our dancers and supporters, as well as to address a number of inquiries we would like to provide some additional information.

It was not HBC's decision to cancel the show dates, but rather the decision of the Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) to close all schools and cancel all scheduled events in case of inclement weather. Too little lead time is available to identify alternate venues, and since most other venues in Harford County suitable for having the production are also public schools, these venues will also be closed due to HCPS's decision.

Upon receiving the news, HBC had two options: try to reschedule the shows or cancel entirely.  HBC chose to reschedule the shows, as it is essential to our mission to provide our company members and the other cast members the opportunity to perform. Without question, each dancer, as well as his or her family, has contributed greatly to the preparation of this show

The only available date was Friday, Dec. 20, which in itself created an additional challenge. With tickets sold for two nights of performance, there was a need to hold two performances on Friday to be able to allow all current ticket holders to have seats at the rescheduled performance. Due to the restrictions on the hours we can use the venue, the time it takes to perform both shows, and the time between shows necessary to clear the house and seat the next audience, the earlier show time must be scheduled earlier than would be ideal—at 5 p.m. HBC understands that this time may cause inconvenience and schedule conflict for some patrons, but it is the only available option if HBC is going to hold two performances in a single evening.

Some patrons have questioned why HBC's policy is to allow no refunds, and why the terms and conditions on the ticket purchases state that the tickets are non-refundable.

After a ticket has been purchased, there will be no refunds or exchanges for any reason, even for lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed tickets or canceled performances. You agree that you will not attempt to evade, avoid, or circumvent these prohibitions in any manner with regard to tickets that you purchased. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, You will not cancel a payment made by check, nor will You dispute or otherwise seek a "chargeback" from the company whose credit card You used to purchase tickets. Should You do so, your tickets may be canceled, and Harford Ballet Company may, in its sole discretion, refuse to honor pending and future ticket purchases made from all bank accounts, credit card accounts or online accounts on which such cancellation or chargebacks (regardless of chargeback outcome) have been sought. Further, Harford Ballet Company may prohibit use of its website by all persons in whose name the credit card accounts exist and any person who accesses any associated online account or credit card or who otherwise breaches this provision. In the event of chargebacks, Harford Ballet Company reserves the right to pursue collection of the ticket purchase price through other legal means, in which case the costs of collection will be paid by You. 

HBC has this policy because the great majority of the costs of production are expended before a show is actually held (and are expended whether or not there is a show). These costs represent professional contractors, sets, props, backdrops, costumes, advertisement, rehearsal time, etc. As these costs are not recoverable for HBC itself, HBC cannot have a policy to allow refunds when shows are canceled due to circumstances outside of its control.

The Board of Directors, on behalf of all of HBC, wish to thank you for the support you have shown over the years and hope that you will continue to support us through this understandably frustrating time. These shows are the result of so many hours of hard work and dedication of so many dancers, parents, volunteers, instructors, and tech crew that we, as a community, do everything in our power to make them successful. We appreciate your understanding and hope you will be able to attend the rescheduled performance of the Nutcracker. Thank you!

The Board of Directors

Harford Ballet Company

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